Ask the Experts

How Do I Tidy Up at Work?

When a cluttered office is keeping you from getting work done, it’s time to make a change! Start with this organizing advice from an ADHD coach.

Q: “My messy desk has caused me to lose important papers and distracted me from the work in front of me. Help!”

The first step is to get rid of what is not needed. That means returning reference materials to where they belong and tossing papers you don’t need into the recycling bin.

This may be a long process, so a “body double” or helper may keep you on track. The more you get rid of, the easier it will be to organize what is left. When filing, assign papers to broad categories — such as “clients,” “long-term deadlines,” “appointments.” You can subcategorize the piles later to fine-tune your system.

The most common mistake people with ADHD make is to read papers they are trying to organize. You might be prompted to e-mail or make a call, which will take you away from decluttering your work space. Instead, start a running “to do” list of things you’ve discovered that you need to act on after you’re finished organizing your space.

Related resources: