The Artist’s Way: Organizing My Office Desk


By Lorna L. Dietz

The Artist’s Way: Organizing My Office Desk

A few weeks ago, I was conversing with a friend who had just started working in a huge hospital. She felt frustrated about her inability to cope with the multi-tasking structure inside the office environment since she had always relied on her acting background and motivational trainer’s skills in getting things done.

I wasn’t surprised. My friend, with a dominant right brain, was working in a left-brained world. Sometimes, she couldn’t figure out what needed to be done with her files or how to effectively manage her time schedule.

I could relate to her. I had learned that I didn’t have to follow what left-brained people do when it comes to being organized or when I’m processing my thoughts and ideas — because I’m “wired” differently.

I just needed to effortlessly work with my artist’s mind.

It’s not always true that if you’re left-handed, then you’re right-brained or if you’re right-handed, then you’re left-brained. Right-brained people are generally creative, kinesthetic (“feeling persons”), and understand visual approaches to learning. Kinesthetic people are very prominent in the music, dance, or acting fields. Left-brained individuals are generally more logical and analytical but not as creative as their right-brained friends. They also respond well to auditory stimuli.

I asked my friend to try out some of my suggestions on “Office Desk Skills 101.” They are meant for people who work with multiple accounts or projects with tight deadlines. My creative mind sought to develop efficient work habits and a comfortable routine.

My office desk – Since I’m right-handed, I like to work from “left to right.” My desk is organized as: (a) Every file and memo on my left side is something I need to do today; (b) What I’m working on right now is at the center of my desk and in front of my computer; and (c) Everything on the right side of my desk is for any of the four actions — TRAF (short for “traffic”). T is for “trash” (or it’s already inside the wastebasket located underneath the right side of my desk), R is for “refer” (who to refer the item or file to), A is for “action” (something I need to implement), and F is for “file.” At the end of the day, everything on my left side finds its way to my right side for “sorting.”

My notebook and message pads – My desk has a spiral-bound notebook with my name on it. I scribble my notes in this notebook every time I’m talking to someone on the phone or if a client is visiting me in my office. If someone wants to leave a message for me, my office colleague writes the message inside my notebook. I always remember to write the date and the time of the message or activity.

A “message” form that I created during my furniture leasing days, when I used to handle more than 50 accounts daily, is divided into two sections: (a) The left side shows the date that a pending action needs to be accomplished — and beneath it is a list of the activities you can encircle, whether it is a quote, a sale, a correction, an amendment, etcetera; (b) The right side shows the date the message was written, who had asked for the action, contact information, and instructions. Each message form is secured on the cover of the file it belongs to or filed according to “date needed” in front of my computer, ready for processing. Afterwards, each message form is stapled behind the pertinent document.

By the way, the telephone is situated on the left side of my desk and my calculator is comfortably ensconced on the right side.

My files – Each account’s file is organized as: (a) The left side contains information and instructions that are considered permanent, such as original contracts or contact names; (b) The right side documents any changes and activities, with the most current action at the top of the file.

The 1 to 31 Filing System – This filing cabinet is located on my left side or behind my desk. I have 31 pendaflex files numbered from 1 to 31.

Every day, I rotate the files. Yesterday, on October 6, I transferred my files assigned for “A” (action) to the pendaflex labeled “7.” I also checked all the files, memos, and reminders tucked inside the “7” pendaflex since everything meant for the 7th, such as December 7 this year or April 7 next year are found within. Thus, the “7” pendaflex file, meant for October 7, is the first pendaflex I see inside my filing cabinet when I start my day, with “8” pendaflex behind it, and so on.

Imagine what it is like coming in on October 7, armed with a cup of coffee, being seated at my desk — and grabbing my “7” pendaflex. Organized and ready to go!

About the Columnist: Lorna Dietz is the Executive Secretary of the Philippine American Press Club, USA and Executive Coordinator of the 3rd Global Filipino Networking Convention on January 20 to 22, 2005 at Waterfront Cebu City Hotel, Philippines. She specializes in public relations, marketing, event management, and intuitive life skills coaching. Lorna can be contacted at [email protected].

© Lorna Lardizabal Dietz, October 2004. This was originally published by Manila Bulletin USA.






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