“Organizing should not be an annual event,” says speaker, author, and business consultant Odette Pollar. When handling your “in-box” items, take a four-step approach: touch, decide, track, and put away. Pollar says all papers should “live with” related papers, whether finished or not. But, if you can handle it in 30 seconds or less, do it now.

  • Cancel your subscriptions to all but essential magazines. Better to read less — but thoroughly — than to try to read too much.

  • Keep the top of your desk as working space, not storage space.

  • Turn off the audible alarm on your e-mail so you can stay focused on the task at hand. Allot a specific time, or times, of the day for reading and responding to your e-mail, as well as for responding to phone calls.

According to Pollar, organizing is a skill that can be learned by anyone. But it's a two-step process: getting there, and staying there. Keep it simple, she says. The simplest way is the best way.

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