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Simplify for Success
Simplify Your Paperwork

How to Organize Your
Desk and Paperwork

by Marcia Ramsland, author of
Simplify Your Life:
Get Organized and Stay that Way!

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One of the most frustrating time wasters is getting through all your paperwork in a day. Is there a setup system to streamline your desk? Yes! Just follow this setup that I have used with hundreds of clients. Here's the order to walk through a streamlined setup:

Simplify the top of your desk.
Stack papers into a neat pile or piles on one side of your desk. Work until you create a clear workspace in the center of the desk. Get rid of any old Post-it notes and desk clutter. Take a moment to dust or wash the desktop, especially if it’s been awhile.

Mentally divide your desk in half horizontally. The half closest to you is the “Inner Workspace,” while the top half is called the “Outer Workspace.” Divide these halves into three imaginary sections -- left, middle, and right -- which will help you strategically set up your workspace. This system works on any workspace including a countertop.

Inner Part of the Desk: The three sections closest to you as you sit at your desk are called the “inner” part of the desk. They should contain your current work in the left-hand or right-hand corner as you sit down at your desk, a clear workspace in the middle, and another clear space in the other front corner. It is important to keep the inner part of the desk organized and clean to focus on the work at hand.

Outer Part of the Desk: The top half of the desk is considered the “outer” part of the desk. This area generally includes your phone, your planner, a personal computer, and an “outgoing” corner.

To make the most of your desktop, designate one corner of your desk for incoming paperwork and projects. If you’re wondering which corner to use, choose the corner that you pass when you sit down. Use a clearly marked “In Box,” which will also help others know where to deposit items that need your attention. On the same side of the desk, designate the other corner for your “Out Box,” which you can use for outgoing paperwork like letters and reports.

  • Phone: Position your phone so you pick it up on the side you place it to your ear while your other hand is free for writing. If you spend a lot of time on the phone, consider using a headset.
  • Personal Planner: Your personal planner or PDA needs to sit in one place, preferably at the top of your cleared workspace. It should be left open to the current day and easily available so you can write down new tasks that come up.
  • Computer: While it’s important to place your computer in front of you, make every effort to maintain a sizable workspace in front of you. Slide the keyboard under the monitor or under the desk on a keyboard tray when it’s not in use.

This excerpt from  Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay that Way! is full of strategies and step by step systems to simplify the tough areas of life: time pressures, kids, clutter, and paper pileups. To get your autographed copy of Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay that Way!  go to

Marcia Ramsland is well known as "The Organizing Pro" for her practical skills and tips to manage busy lives. She is a speaker, author, and media guest expert appearing on TV, radio, and in national magazines for her popular books Simplify Your Life, Simplify Your Time, and Simplify Your Holidays (Thomas Nelson). Visit her website, for free tips.

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Time-Saving Tips
Twenty-One Times to a New Lifestyle
We must continue to refine our systems so everything works for us, and not against us, in a day. New habits need to be done at least twenty-one times the “new” way before they become a habit. It may take you longer than twenty-one days to make a new habit, but it’s worth the effort. If you are committed to simplifying your life, polish your good habits and overcome your lazy ones.

  * Go to How to Order to get your autographed copy of the book today!

Time-Saving Tips

"I have realized that the stress I have been feeling at work was because I hadn't fully implemented this system (Calendar file, To Do file, etc..) and I was getting majorly bogged down with paper. .. I'm feeling so much more successful and "together" because of your book. I remember you showing me how to do this and talking to you about it in person, but reading it and having it in my hands to hash over and highlight helpful parts has solidified it for me! I love having the reference at my fingertips."        

~ Holly Sandefur, Teacher
San Diego, California

"Thank you so much for writing such an inspiring book!!!! My husband and I have been married for two years and unfortunately our parents did not teach us simple systems to run our lives. Thank you for inspiring me to de-clutter and organize! My husband got a bad cut yesterday, went into the bathroom cabinet and was pleasantly surprised to be able to find hydrogen peroxide, band-aids, and Neosporin- organized and ready for use! Thank you, thank you, thank you!" ~ Melissa Gamble· Tulsa, Oklahoma


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