Organize Your Desk to Reach Your Goals

When I was in school, my teachers were very fond of the saying, "Untidy desk, untidy mind." Far from motivating me to get my act together, this simply used to annoy me. As a teenager, I was not very good at heeding sensible advice.

Now I'm a lot older and I have come to see the wisdom of their words. It still doesn't make me like them, but that's another story. Nowadays I am a lot more organized than I was then and it has paid me many dividends over the years.

Here's how to organize your desk to help you reach your goals.

My system is very simple. I have allocated three separate areas of my desk for three classes of document or task.

  1. The critical pile. These are things that absolutely, positively, without fail must be done today. If anything appears in this area of my desk, it must be given immediate and concentrated attention and nothing else can be touched till this is cleared and out of the way. As a result, I am very careful about what I put in that pile. It must be vital to my goals or I will end up spending a lot of time and attention on something that is non-essential and there is nothing that frustrates me more.
  2. Next is the ongoing section. This is for tasks and documents that can wait. They need to be done at some point and indeed, if they remain there too long, they may well go critical and end up being moved to the first area. These are the tasks that I fit around the essential ones. If I find myself with time, I will do them; if not they will remain there till I do, or till they need immediate attention.
  3. The final section is my favorite. This is for documents and tasks that are either completed or so non-essential that they will never be done. This is the discard pile. If something ends up here it has either been finished to my complete satisfaction, which is a cause for celebration, or is so non-critical that it will make no difference if I never do it. Incidentally, throwing away non-essentials is another cause for celebration as even something not done is another task out of the way.

Try organizing your desk this way and you will be surprised how much more efficient you become.

  • About

    headshot: David Beroff in St. ThomasDavid Beroff started writing software at the age of 11, and was teaching Computer Science at Rutgers University by the time he was 18. After designing software for two decades, he started his own Internet marketing firm in '95; one of his company's earliest successes was, a free feedback-form service that was later sold to Wondermill.

    Beroff had bought and sold four million voluntary, opt-in email leads generated with properties like LeadFactory and SuperTAF before the business failed in '07. He is the author of the book, Turn Funny Email into CASH!, and is currently developing a new social media site,

    He has two grown children, and now lives outside of Scranton with his girlfriend and five cats.

  • Contact

    If you have any questions or concerns about our website and/or our advertising, please feel free to email me directly: David (at) Beroff (dot) com.