If you live by the motto of reader Wellington Grey, a little mess is more than acceptable. Still, you'd best not dare to put anything in the KEEP CLEAR zone.
Grey was inspired to try a new organisational technique after seeing the movie The Fifth Element. Bruce Willis' character lives in horrible tiny and cluttered apartment, completely packed with cruft. Everything is a mess—except one smalll area with KEEP CLEAR stenciled on the wall. Wellington decided to apply this principle to his desk.
So he busted out a roll of hazard tape and cordoned off a large section of his desk directly in front of him. How does the KEEP CLEAR system work?
Only the paper that you're working on right now can go in the KEEP CLEAR box. If you're working on the computer, then the keyboard and mouse can go inside the box. Everything else must stay out. The KEEP CLEAR zone not only gives you space to work, but it also focuses your attention.
By limiting himself to only the single, present project, Grey is able to stay productive and focused, even when work would seem to be piling up. While you may not be affixing bright yellow tape to your desk anytime soon, the principle is a solid one—I use a similar technique only, instead of actually taping off the space, I use my desk ledger as the zone that must be kept clear and ready for work. For the full write-up of his technique and additional pictures, check out his blog at the link below.