A False Sense of Organization

August 20, 2007


If trays are not given a clearly defined, single purpose … they’ll become a magnet for miscellaneous crap.

They’re everywhere! Everywhere I go I see them. They litter millions of desks all over the world. Of course I’m refereeing to the ever popular desk tray. If you aren’t familiar with desk trays, let me define them for you:

Desk Tray = a stackable device one uses to give the false sense of organization, by taking their horizontal chaos and making it vertical!

Ok, so there not all bad, but you should be cautious with desk trays, as they can promote less then productive habits in hurry.

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Here’s how:

Let’s say its “Newbie Ned’s” second day on the job. He’s just finished a meeting with Manger Sue who gave him several handouts. As he arrives back to his desk, Newbie Ned ponders to himself, “I wonder what I should do with these papers the boss gave me, hmmm”. Just then he sees it! Its perfect 8.5 x 11 size, and vast emptiness seductively calls to him … begging to be filled.

Newbie Ned can’t resist it any longer … He plops the papers into the tray and never gives them a second thought. Therein lies the problem … the “never giving it a second thought part”. That’s why I sometimes refer to desk treys as “black holes” … stuff enters - never to be heard from again.

However, trays can be useful if used carefully, and purposefully. Here are some best practice guidelines for using trays:

• Each tray should have a single, clearly defined purpose (labeling it as such wouldn’t hurt).

• Trays should never be used solely as a catchall for miscellaneous crap you don’t want to think about. It’s better to toss the stuff to begin with.

• Trays are great for organizing forms or supplies that are used frequently, like fax cover sheets, postal supplies, etc. Just remember, each tray should contain just one type of each item)

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