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After the clutter built up one too many times, the need to come up with a plan seemed obvious. Stretching too often to get something needed routinely and trying to become a left-hander when the phone rang created body stress as well as wasted movements.

Using a very simple method of organizing, which takes into account your size and your reach was the final winner. Lacking any formal title for it as far as I knew, I called it the "Arc Method". It will accomplish two things:

1 - fewer wasted motions
2 - less clutter at the end of the day

This method works best if you start by taking everything off the top of your desk. If you cannot move the computer, phone, or other such items, that's fine, but take time to check and see how much movement each has if you want to move them around at least a little bit.

Next, follow these simple steps:

1 - With the top of the desk cleared, sit in your chair as you would when you are working. Place your elbows on the edge of the desk.

2 - Put your hands and lower arms together and then lower them directly in front of you. Look at where your hands are and imagine your hand making an arc out on both sides. That is your first Arc Zone.

3 - In that zone, place anything you use all the time. It could be your computer keyboard, or your phone and call pads if you do phone sales, for example, or it could be anything else you use repeatedly. If you do a lot of writing and need the space clear, then make that your clear space.

4 - Next, still sitting where you did for the first zone, place your arms in an outstretched position directly in front of you. Keep your arms and hands together, but do not bend your elbows this time. Again, see where your hands are on the desk.

5 - This time, spread your arm out in an arc and see what desk area that span includes. This is your second Arc Zone.

6 - In this zone, put those things which you need to reach frequently, but not with every move you make. In this zone, also look at where your phone is located. Is it on the correct side of the desk for you? In this second zone, put your organizers, hanging folder frames if you use one on top of your desk, or whatever you need within reach.

7 - In the remaining desk area, place your nameplate, family photos, plant, or anything else you typically want to make your work area more pleasant.

By following the simple steps above, you can get everything where you need it on your desk without over-stretching or having to constantly shuffle papers from one side to the other. As you come to use each item on a consistent basis, you will be able to close your eyes and still know where everything is located.

Any lose papers that need to have a home within one of the first two arc zones can easily be contained until you need them. By using one of the colorful, but inexpensive organizers ($2-$3 at a discount store)that come in various configurations, you can add color and organization to your work area.

It seems like a simple thing, but anyone who has been a secretary for long knows one secret. That wisdom comes from never having a single-task life. By watching an efficient secretary, you can learn the secret as well. Everything is within a range of motion, based on what tasks are routinely performed and in which order. Movements need to flow and remain constant over time.