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How to create a deskscape
Cubi Priority Manager Drawer

The top of your desk is some of the most valuable real estate in your office. How you arrange your work tools here can make the difference in how productive you are.

Let's concede that most of us have to be connected in some way to a phone and computer. Beyond these, what do you need? We recommend these 4Ps for an effective desktop.

1. Project manager

This often takes the form of an in-box. Think outside the box here, beyond the traditional two-tray configuration. Perhaps a tier of three would work better for you: one to do, one to read, one to think about by Friday. What tray assignments make the most sense to you?

If you have a credenza behind you or a work table to the side of you, consider a row of trays or baskets that you can label by project. Do you use a paper tickler file? Many successful people do.

2. Pitch file

Better known as the wastebasket. One of the best pieces of advice that some of the top organization experts offer is to open your mail over a wastebasket. What doesn't land in your project management system, or in a pass-along pile, probably belongs in your pitch file. (Note: this does not include Levenger catalogs.)

3. Paper companion

The chances of the world going completely paperless are about the same as forests reclaiming New England. Even the members of our Internet team have some concessions to papyrus on their desks. Make room for the paper you need and you'll be pleased for it.

Collegiate Editor's Desk

I sometimes like to write rather than key my words, and find an inclined surface atop the middle of my desk the best spot to do it (the laptop is directly behind me). Our merchandising director, one of the most paperless people I know, has a paper notebook for logging voicemails.

Our senior VP of marketing is the keeper of 3x5 note cards. They become her to-do lists, which she refreshes biweekly with what's been done and what's to come. As she points out, it doesn't take a lot of filing to find them.

picture frame

4. Personal pleasure

A beautiful object, a collectible or some other piece that's special to you will make your desk a pleasing environment and not just a workspace. Often it's a photograph. Lori loves the idea of fresh flowers on her desk, and you'll usually find an orchid in bloom.

If you derive satisfaction from your work, why not take pleasure from the place where you accomplish so much of it?

Just one more item to make your desktop functional: a good reading lamp. Now you're ready to light up the world with your talent.

Steve Leveen signature