Clear the Hotspots Challenge Day #3 (Home Office / Desk / Paperwork)


Are you joining me for our 5 Day Hotspot Challenge this week? WELCOME to Day #3!

Here’s everything you need to know about this challenge:

  • Each day this week, we’ll be tackling one hotspot in our home. If you want to join us, GO HERE to sign up and I’ll email you the schedule.
  • Every morning, I will send you an email (and post here on KOAB) the details of that day’s challenge area. If you want to tackle something else, feel free. But I think it’s pretty fun and motivating to be doing the same thing as more than 250 other people!
  • Every evening, I will send you a follow-up email, detailing the progress I made in my challenge area — and asking you to share your success story (or struggles – that’s okay, too!).
  • Don’t worry if you didn’t start with us on Monday. You can just jump in whenever, and catch up next week on the other days’ challenges.

Today’s assignment is your home office / desk / paperwork. 

Don’t work or study from home? Don’t have a kitchen desk? No worries! This challenge is still for you!

We all have paperwork, right? Insurance documents, mail, bills, school permission forms, medical documents, and more. You may have even started dealing with some it on Monday, during the “landing spot” assignment.

Today is the day to cull the desk/office/paper clutter, toss the junk, and put a system in place so you can stay on top of it going forward.

Since I do work from home, I am fortunate to have a proper home office. Well, proper-ish. It also serves as our guest room, TV room, and laundry-folding-and-ironing room (usually done while watching TV!).

The picture above shows the “office” part of the room. Last year, I bought this great desk from IKEA and it has worked out perfectly for my  needs – it’s super compact, yet still has adequate storage and desktop space. (I also got these matching rolling drawers for a bit more storage space.)

Unlike our “back kitchen”, which was a HOT MESS before yesterday, I have actually manage to keep my office/guestroom pretty tidy and de-hotspotted.

I think I have been more focused on regular maintenance in this space because it’s really difficult for me to think clearly and creatively when there is chaos all around me. Keeping this room cleared is, therefore, essential to my productivity.

(Truth be told, that’s the case EVERYWHERE in my house…. hmmmm… maybe that’s why I wanted to host this challenge!)

Since my desk / office is already pretty tidy, I’m going to focus my time on the clearing out my INBOX.

It may not look like that much of a “mess”, but this is literally every piece of paper that requires some kind action from me (bills, medical records, tax forms, checks, etc.)… and it’s been sitting here for weeks months 😱.

I’m so behind and the pile just keeps growing. Can you relate?

Today, with my 20 minute timer, I’m challenging myself to clear this stack and take action on all paperwork that requires it!

What’s your goal for today’s assignment?

Remember, we want to focus on:

  • CLEARING the clutter
  • ORGANIZING what remains
  • CONTAINING the stuff that actually needs to stay

If you’re new to the challenge, here’s a quick tutorial on my 7-step process for clearing any hotspot in your home!

#1. Set a timer for 15 or 20 minutes

Working for longer than 20-minute stretches can lead to burn out. Work as quickly as you can, but don’t worry if you can’t finish all of it (or even most of it). One success leads to the next success, so if you make progress in these first 20 minutes, you’ll be so much more motivated to set a timer & tackle your hotspot again in the future.

#2. Define the Zone

Decide which room or space you are going to focus on – and stay focused only there. Once that hotspot is 100% cleared, you can always turn your attention to another area. But for now, don’t be the mouse in the book, If you Give a Mouse a Cookie. Focus, focus, focus.

#3. Toss the garbage / recycling

The quickest win you can get is by going through your hotspot with a garbage bag in hand and throwing out all the garbage (be generous with your definition of garbage!). Then do the same with the recycling. If the situation is really bad, you may just want to toss the recycling into the garbage. Just this once!

#4. Declutter

Grab an empty laundry basket and toss into it anything that shouldn’t be in the hotspot you are clearing. Clutter includes redundant items. For example, do you really need thirty five blue pens and three staplers? Keep in mind that the goal of this step is to CULL the clutter; do not worry about organizing or “containerizing” yet.

#5. Organize

After steps 1-4, you should be left with only those items that you want to stay – somehow, somewhere – in the hotspot you’re working on.  It’s finally time to organize (YAY!). Gather like items into piles, so you can see what you have. Start to think about the most efficient use of your space to house these items.

#6. Containerize

This is the most fun step! “Containerizing” means finding a place to store/keep/display all the stuff you just organized. This is the end of the process, not the beginning, for a reason: Because you can’t organize clutter. If you focus your time on buying cute baskets and storage units, you will still be left with mountains of garbage and clutter. Focus instead on culling what you’ve got down to what you really need (some might say what really “sparks joy” 😉 ), and THEN figure out the best way to keep it contained.

#7. Maintain

Once your hotspot looks and functions how you want it to, it’s time to maintain it. Let’s face it: If we don’t spend 3-5 minutes on daily maintenance, we’ll revert to clutter and chaos in a matter of weeks (or days!). That’s why I put together this handy list of daily maintenance chores (those of who are already in the challenge should have theirs in their inbox). Sign up for the 5-Day Challenge to get your copy of the Daily Maintenance Chores.

Are you ready to conquer your home office / desk / paperwork? Go set your timer and let’s get to work!

P.S. Don’t forget to check off your daily maintenance tasks – especially the ones related to the landing spot and kitchen, which you hopefully successfully cleared yesterday!

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