Cleaning off Your Desk with Personal Knowbase

Today is National Clean Off Your Desk Day, which falls on the second Monday of January every year. Personal Knowbase can’t help you get rid of old pens, half-used batteries, and that broken coffee mug. But it can help you tidy up all those scattered bits of paper.

As part of your efforts, try this:

cluttered papers

  1. Separate and file important papers that you need for legal and financial purposes.

    Even in the 21st century, we still need to keep copies of some documents as physical paper files. Examples are receipts for tax-deductibles, insurance information, and automobile registration.

  2. Collect all the remaining miscellaneous scraps of paper from your desk in a pile.

    This includes notes like to-dos, phone notes, lists, mail, and reminders.

  3. Take each paper from the pile, one at a time.
    Deal with each paper once. Don’t put anything back in the pile. For each paper, ask yourself: Is this something I need to keep?
    If no, toss it. Be ruthless.

    If yes, continue:

  4. For each keeper, ask yourself under what circumstances you might need the information again.

    Is the information on the paper associated with a project? A hobby? A topic of interest? A person? That association — those circumstances in which you’ll need it again — suggest what keywords or key phrases best represent the information on this piece of paper.

  5. Record the information from the paper into a new Personal Knowbase article. Assign to the article the keywords associated with the circumstances when you’ll need it again.
  6. Now toss (or recycle or shred) the scrap of paper and move on to the next one.

When you’ve cleared the paper notes off your desk, reward yourself by tossing the broken coffee mug (or whatever other worn-out item you’ve been clinging to) and getting a new one.