One Bag Nation

What Works, What Doesn’t: Desk Day

Posted on: May 27, 2008

I’ve implemented ideas from two organizing and productivity gurus to help me manage household bill-paying and other household paperwork. Setting up and consistently using an inbox, and the routine of my weekly desk day have made a big difference in my quest to be more organized.

At the suggestion of David Allen, I have one large inbox (you can see a photo of my beautiful, cheery inbox here), where I toss all incoming mail (after purging recycling, etc.) and any other paperwork that needs to be handled (like school and scouting announcements). Sometimes I put things like birthday presents that need to be wrapped in there, or an item I need to return to someone (I put a note on my to do list for the day I plan to return it). Right now the strap that tore off my laptop bag is in there, because I need to be in touch with the manufacturer.

At the suggestion of flylady, I chose one day a week to be my “desk day”, when I process what’s in the basket. I get up extra early, make a cup of coffee and spend a quiet hour or more, working through whatever I find in there.

Why does this work? Two reasons: First, I have a designated place for all incoming “stuff” which prevents it from cluttering up my desk or any other part of the house. Second, my routine of processing everything once a week – on the same day – gives me peace of mind; I don’t have to think about any of it until desk day comes around.

I still struggle with procrastinating on the tasks I don’t want to do (like filing, of course!) but I’ve come a long way since the days when my entire (large) desk was piled high with catalogs, junk mail, bills, magazines – you name it – and I didn’t know where to begin.

And just remember – you can start small. I first established the habit of sorting the mail and immediately tossing catalogs and other junk. Just that small change reduced the piles considerably – give it a try!

Oh – and by the way – what doesn’t work? Getting up super-early to process my inbox, only to find myself blogging instead!!


4 Responses to "What Works, What Doesn’t: Desk Day"

“what doesn’t work? Getting up super-early to process my inbox, only to find myself blogging instead!!”

Ha. That cracked me up.

Been there, done that.


I need to set aside a Desk Day. Stuff piles up on my desk and I keep intending to clear it off, and then I don’t. And then it piles up more. And then there’s so much stuff on the desk I don’t even want to think about going through it.

@Vered: I knew my fellow bloggers would relate!

@Stimey: it really is a vicious cycle. I can empathize – and I suggest you start small with one pile – and only work in short bursts so you don’t get overwhelmed.

I clicked on the link to see your inbox, but was not allowed to access the page. I am curious to see what you use.

Princess Ivory

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