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MENTOR - TOP TIPS

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How to have a tidy desk...
How to have a tidy desk

If your desk looks like a bomb site, and your filing system consists of burrowing into mounds of paper, it's unlikely you are the most dynamic person in the office.

One basic rule is to keep your desk clear of everything except the project you are working on. To do this, you will need to have an effective system for ongoing and pending work, so set up an in-tray and an out-tray, and avoid setting up a 'miscellaneous' tray that just fills up with rubbish - if a piece of paper needs no action, either bin it or file it. And if it does need action, do it now.

Making time for this is essential, no matter how busy you are, says Gladeana McMahon,

co-director of the Centre for Stress Management. 'Taking a little time to do this now can save you hours later on,' she points out. 'If you have all your documents sorted into plastic folders, rather than in a great muddle, you will have the feeling of being in control.'

Another trick is to assess how frequently you will need a particular item, and put things away if they are only used occasionally. Working on a tidy desk won't make much difference if your filing cabinet is overflowing with useless documents, either, so slash and burn in this area.

If you aren't using your keyboard, push it to one side for extra desk space, or even better, keep it on a retractable tray. Your computer can also remind you of life outside work, Ms McMahon suggests. 'Use a screen-saver of your family or hobby to remind you of the fun things in life,' she suggests.

And finally - keep up the good work. Take 10 minutes at the end of the day to tidy your desk ready for a super-efficient working day tomorrow.

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