Twas the Night Before Leaving For Christmas
December 16, 2012 2:39 PM   Subscribe

One hour to clean and straighten up very messy office so I can get some last minute work done tonight before I leave tomorrow on a 2 week break. Ready? Go. What's first? Oh, btw, not a hoarder, but want to keep some stuff.
posted by Xurando to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Organized piles.

Box, cups, and/or baskets to hold stuff.

Be ruthless and throw out anything that isn't necessary.

Set timer for 60 minutes. I find that timers motivate me to work fast.
posted by Fairchild at 2:43 PM on December 16, 2012

1) Stop procrastinating by posting about it on metafilter.

2) Pick up every piece of paper. If it might be important, set it aside. If not, toss.

3) Stack the important papers and put them in a folder. Put the folder in a drawer to deal with when you get back.

4) Everything else will either be trash or a desk fixture. Throw away the trash.

5) Straighten the desk fixtures.

6) Run a Clorox wipe or damp paper towel over everything to get off all the crud.

7) That's it. The hardest part is just getting it started.
posted by phunniemee at 2:45 PM on December 16, 2012 [7 favorites]

Stack all the paper in one pile, get a box, fuck everything on the desk into it except the phone, and only pull out what you need now. Which is probably nothing. Then spend the remaining 56 minutes sorting the pile onto Keep and Toss.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:46 PM on December 16, 2012

As Fairchild says, organized piles (with sticky notes to tell you what's in the pile. Leave the piles alone until after your break, but out of the way). A large box for any paper you throw out. A fresh trash bag for all the debris.
First, take a few layers off what's at the left side, where stuff (as it seems) almost wants to slide off the pile, to prevent that from happening.
Then free up the space under and on the desk, start exactly where you'll later sit and work. Work away from your actual (now free) workspace, both to the left and to the right. As soon as the floor is free, get your vacuum cleaner and get rid of the dust (2 minutes, worth Gold). Stop when the hour strikes. A coffee. Now work.
posted by Namlit at 2:55 PM on December 16, 2012

What work do you want to do? Take everything off the desk that isn't specifically for that work, put it in a box and ignore it until you get back. Set the background image on your Mac to this and get to work.
posted by mhoye at 2:59 PM on December 16, 2012

Shut the door of your office and affix a "Busy. Do Not Disturb" sign. Set your phone to roll over automatically to voicemail (cell too) and put your computer to sleep.

Now, set four boxes or other container-type receptacles in the middle of the room. These are:

1. Stuff I Absolutely Positively Need to Finish Current Tasks
2. Stuff I Don't Need to Finish Current Tasks
3. Important Papers That Are Not Available in Electronic Format (there will not be a lot of these)
4. Unimportant Papers That Can Be Treated as Trash (that's practically everything made of paper)

Define your monitor as "12 o'clock."

Turn on lively music.

Begin at 12 o'clock and start working your way around the space. Make quick, ruthless decisions on everything, and everything except monitor, keyboard and phone go into one box of the other. This may be easier to do seated in your swivel chair than standing, but do whatever seems to make you work faster.

When you've boxed everything, give the surfaces a quick wipe-down and, if you can, run a vacuum over the floor.

Box 4 goes in recycling.

Box 2 you put aside somewhere it's not in the way.

Keep box 3 handy, but don't pull anything out of it yet.

Now unpack box 1, plug stuff in as necessary. Get back to work.

This will not take more than an hour.
posted by La Cieca at 3:17 PM on December 16, 2012


Move your monitor and phone aside.

Scoop everything else into a box.

Put the monitor and phone back on the desk.

Find the "essentials" (one notepad, one pen, and whatever documentation you most recently touched) in the box and put them back on your desk.

Pick a single toy from the box and put it on your desk.

Everything else in the box, file or throw away.
posted by pla at 3:29 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

My small contribution: when I have had to clean up my desk ASAP, I use the "shove it all in box(es)" method described by others, with this one adjustment:

If there are important papers/research/notices/receipts/etc. that you don't want to have trouble finding, or that you might have to talk someone over the phone into finding for you, I take a letter size piece of blank paper, turn it landscape, fold around the important papers and then write in marker what the pile is. Bind it all with a spring loaded binder clip. Repeat for each important stack. Then throw them in the box too.

It's a lot easier to find a binder clipped stack with big marker writing on a cover page, even when mixed in a box of junk. Regular paper clips can fall off or become entangled with other paper. If you don't have binder clips don't waste time going out and buying them, just consider this for next time.
posted by forthright at 4:21 PM on December 16, 2012

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