Let’s take a look at your desk, shall we?
Can you see the surface of your desk? No?
A vague outline of it?
Oh dear… It’s worse than Old Taskmaster feared!
You’ve got many piles of disorganised papers, bills, unopened letters, hand scrawled notes and miscellany, stacked up like small mountains, haven’t you?
And the piles are so tall at this point they’ve begun bending at an ominous angle suggesting they could topple over and bury you alive in an avalanche of paper at any time.
But of course, you never know when you might need those old accounts from 1992, you keep telling yourself. The day you toss ‘em is the day the taxman will surely call with an audit!
Then there’s that “free” promotional book you got from a group of passing Hare Krishnas in Sydney that time and another one you were given at a business networking conference – something or other about “cloud convergence” sponsored by Cisco and IBM. I’m sure you’ll get around to reading both, one of these days. Assuming you don’t die of boredom first.
A two month old copy of the Fin Review gathers dust on your printer– did you actually end up reading that thing? Didn’t think so.
And look! A science experiment! You have a petri dish – wait a minute! That’s no petri dish! That’s the casket of a chicken tikka meal you had from the take-away shop down the road last month!
Is that an executive stress ball or a hacky sack that’s sitting next to the bobble-head figurine there?
And there it is! That’s where the missing extension cord went! It’s been hiding under a box overflowing with donkey-eared sheets of yellowing paper this whole time!
Why properly adjust your monitor when a three-year-old copy of the White Pages will do the same job? That said, that bottle of Mountain Dew near your feet is probably a little flat, given it has been opened for seven months now.
You quite possibly should have started culling some of your post-it notes before they covered the entire front and back of your computer monitor. Sticking post-it notes on top of post-it notes until they all peel off like a bunch of bananas is not generally a good organisational strategy.
And Tony’s Discount Kebabs has updated its menu three times since the copy sitting beside your phone was printed. That’s why Fat Tony always tells you off when you try to order the $5 special! He hasn’t offered it in five years!
Speaking of junk mail, it would be bad enough if you still had Clive for Canberra propaganda on your desk, but unless you run a museum, there’s no conceivable need at all to still have Joe Bjelke-Petersen for Canberra leaflets!
And sure, you use an iMac these days and actually don’t own anything with a floppy drive anymore, but let’s face it, you never know when that disk with MS-DOS 6.2 will come in handy, right? Right?!
You’re not a hoarder! You can stop at any time! You swear!
Plus you’re just too busy and stressed to start cleaning now! You have a project to work on! Well – a project to work on once you finish reading StartupSmart and the rest of your email for the morning – but that’s another story!
But you’re too busy to start cleaning! Because! Because… well… uhhh… spending half an hour overturning your whole office to find the one piece of paper you actually need is far more efficient than having only what you need closely at hand!
Now, in this circumstance, Old Taskmaster is tempted to order you to clean up your act. But let’s face it, your mother tried that one for years and your old bedroom at your parents’ house is still a mess!
So instead, you should do two things.
First, get a series of tidy tubs. Only keep one type of junk in each tidy tub. If you’re going to try working in a space resembling a junkyard, at the very least it should be a properly sorted junkyard.
Secondly, get some cardboard boxes. Big ones. Write a date on the front – say, one in six months’ time – and throw a whole pile of paper inside.
If you actually need a particular sheet of paper, you get to fish it out. Anything still in the box in six months goes straight to the recycling bin! No mercy!
Oh, and throw out the stale junk food! I can smell it from Taskmaster Towers!
Get it done – today!