Daily Tip: Clean Desk, Clean Mind

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People spend lots of time keeping their virtual desktops clean and their email boxes as empty as possible—but what about their real-world space? While some of your colleagues and friends are very good at maintaining a rigorously spare work environment, you doubtlessly know more than a few whose desks are total disaster zones.

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Disorganization can slow you down, result in losing vital documents, and make you seem unprofessional to whoever walks past. Here are some tips for keeping your space clean with minimal effort:

Develop a Routine: Schedule 10 or 20 minutes per week to tidy up. That’ll help transform cleaning into a habit.

Toss What You Don’t Need: Invoices for this quarter? Keep. Physical newspaper that you picked up from the office kitchen three weeks ago and never read? Toss. In fact, toss (or recycle) everything that you’re absolutely sure you’ll never use again.

Reduce Paper: Save a tree or two: Encourage your colleagues and clients to send you things electronically.

Create ‘Zones’: Maybe you have an inbox on your desk. Even if you don’t, creating “zones” for certain kinds of documents and items—here go invoices, there go blueprints—can help keep everything organized.

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