Even though I optimized a lot of my every day procedures to be more productive, until recently I had a bad habit to deal with my “open cases”. You know – these documents, papers, whatever which need to be treated in any way and since this treatment will take a while, you didn’t do it immediately. These things used to pile up on my desktop and sometimes even on the floor beside my desk.

Not only that this whole setting looked messy – ruining the beauty of my classy iMac and swank desktop utensils, it regularly gave me a displeasing overwhelmed feeling. At times it came to the point where I first had to overcome a debilitating sense of powerlessness against this mighty pile of stuff before I could get to work.

So for the still kind of young 2016 I created a new habit – my personal clean-desk-policy. This is something I borrowed from the working world of companies which deal with confidential documents. Employees processing sensitive data have to clean their desk at the end of the day an lock all documents into a cabinet of something.

Every day when I’m done working on my TODOs I clear my desk of all remaining stuff and put it into my file cabinet. I even created an item in my streaks app to reinforce the daily execution of my new habit.

Now my desk looks like an inviting place to work in the morning 🙂


If you like the idea, I think there are important things to consider:

– Storing away stuff must not be a “store and forget” activity! Fetch back the papers every day to make sure they do not become forgotten (Out of sight, out of mind.)!
– Don’t pile all documents together to a monolith block of paper – or you will have a hard time to divide them again. I layer the documents with a gap of 2 or 3 centimeter so I can separate them again in no time.

During the execution of my new policy I experienced a pleasant side effect:
I found that some of the papers weren’t as labor-intensive as I thought in the first place, so instead of putting them again onto the store-away-pile, I processed them shortly and so the amount of “open cases” noticeable shrank already!

BTW the same policy can also be applied to your computer desktop or your download folder…