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Clutter control: 5 habits worth adopting

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The trouble with that New Year’s resolution to declutter your desk is that it didn’t stick. It’s back to its old cluttered self.

“You want to create new habits that last more than a week,” personal coach Miranda Kennet says.

Five habits worth adopting:

1. Hold off shopping for new supplies to whip your desk into shape. Set up new systems first; you may not need to buy a thing. Example: Open mail near the shredder rather than at your desk, suggests Standolyn Robertson, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers.

2. Value your work area. “Often people will archive stuff in the bottom drawer when it could be archived elsewhere in the building,” Robertson says.

3. Seize a low-energy time of day. When you’re busy, there are more important things than keeping your desk clear. But if energy and workload typically hit a lull at 4 p.m., give yourself 15 minutes to declutter, Kennet says.

4. Ignore the “touch it once” rule about handling paper, says Robertson. That rule “is probably true only of toilet paper.” Instead, have a “use by” rule, applying expiration dates to any papers on your desk.

5. Remove the clutter-creators beyond your desk, recommends Alex Cheatle of concierge service Ten UK. Two ideas: Replace the photocopier with a shredder and a scanner. Abandon paper faxes in favor of e-faxes.

— Adapted from “Make a clean desk of it in 2009,” Rhymer Rigby, Financial Times

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