I have written about your number one organizing tool in the past. Today I have a video to demonstrate why a clear work surface is your number one organizing tool. In my book The Circulation Solution, I talk about how circulation prevents accumulation. By “circulation” I mean a plan for movement in a series of manageable, reliable stages. Nothing facilitates this movement more manageably and reliably than a clear work surface.
When I am coaching clients on how to get organized, I always start by having them clear a work surface. They may clear half of one and ask “close enough?” I encourage them to clear it completely. They may clear all but 5 items and ask “how about now?” It might sound extreme, but I push them to go 100% clear. Why? Because there is always a better location to store an item than a work surface. Your number one daily organizing habit is to clear your work surface(s) before you go to bed. Another important habit, therefore, is to get in is always look for better storage alternatives than the table.
If you process work on a surface that is 50% or even 90% empty, your results can be unsatisfying. It’s less clear when you have completed your task. There is a psychological element to doing work. When you’re able to completely clear your surface after each round of processing, it gives you a psychological lift. That feeling of accomplishment helps push you further than if you don’t feel like you are completing anything.
With a clear work surface you have the power to spread out, to prioritize, and to process away. The power to prioritize is extremely important. Often we get distracted in the middle of a task, because we feel like there is a bigger task hidden in the piles. That’s the beauty of a clear surface. No hiding.