Do you ever find yourself playing defense at work? A memo thrown at you here. A proposal tossed over there. A report on this corner. A sticky-note on that corner. It seems that no matter how hard you try to defend your desk, more and more information finds a way to land on whatever clear spots are available.
“There’s only so much space,” you plead, but unfortunately, that doesn’t stop the onslaught. Eventually, you grow weary from the defense and temporarily let down your guard. It’s at that moment when the clutter pile seed gets planted and begins to grow.
Clutter can be everywhere you look, but when clutter comes to your work desk, however, the piles of folders, projects and office swag can do more than create an eyesore for your office’s resident Monica. The clutter can also impact the way you work and how you think. Fortunately, clutter can be controlled, and when it is, you’ll get to enjoy the amazing benefits of having a completely decluttered desk I’m going to share with you. As a bonus, I’ll also share 6 easy steps for decluttering your desk.
Benefits of a Clean Desk
1. More Focus
When your desk is disorganized, your surroundings compete for your attention, resulting in decreased productivity and increased stress levels. Storing, tossing or moving items can be a great way to eliminate distractions from your desk, allowing you to focus on the task at hand.
2. Creative Freedom
No matter the role you’re in, you’ll have to be creative at some point. Maybe you’re solving a process problem, figuring out how to handle a customer or doing something else office warriors do. With a decluttered desk, you’ll be able to enjoy the freedom of not having a desk with restrictive clutter preventing you from making the most of your workspace to tackle an issue.
Your office may not have an award for the most organized desk, but you can easily nominate and award yourself with that title. With a decluttered desk, you’ll not only convey to others your mad organizational skills, but you’ll also give the impression you’re efficient and focused – traits surely to be praised by colleagues.
Now that you’re primed to realize these benefits, let’s go through 6 steps that will help you get your desk in order so that you can think more clearly, relax a little bit more, tackle your to-do list and head home on time more often!
6 Steps to Decluttering Your Desk
1. Give Everything a Home
Create folders for documents not currently in use and file them, along with any loose-leaf papers, in drawers. If you don’t have a home for something, the top of your desk will become a home. Take a moment and look around. Determine what needs to be on the top of your desk and what can be stored, tossed or moved.
2. Tame Your Wires
In today’s digital world, trying to avoid a web of USB cables, power cords and network cables may be next to impossible. Getting rid of those wires lingering behind and around your desk may not be possible, but you may be able to tame them by using Velcro® straps, twist ties and even binder clips. As a bonus, organizing your cables is also a great safety precaution. If you’re in an open work area, those wires can easily find their way into a walkway, making a trip to the floor for some unsuspecting intern almost inevitable.
3. Store It Away
Business cards, Post-it® Notes, notepads and folders can all be useful and can be good to have readily available. Unfortunately, keeping all of them on your desk at once can create the distractions we talked about and get in your way. Store them in drawers or use their electronic equivalents in order to help you focus on the task at hand. For me, I make use of a thin stationery drawer that usually sits under where you place your keyboard for Post-it® Notes, paper clips and pens. For filing drawers, I create folders with tabs, such as “Open Matters,” “Closed Matters,” “Stalled Matters,” and “Research.”
4. Finish Your Work
I don’t know about you, but for me, one of the culprits that tries to creep its way onto my desk is my collection of open projects. At any given time, I may be working on multiple projects. To help cut down on the number of open projects, I work to see projects to the end before starting new ones, meaning I try to keep as few projects open at once as possible. This way, I get to enjoy more satisfying close projects and desk cleaning opportunities. For those long projects, I make sure to have a drawer where I store ongoing projects.
5. Wipe It Down
With everything in a home, you can now wipe down your office furniture with a disinfecting wipe or two and get rid of the cobwebs and dust from behind your computer. Did you know a keyboard can typically have over 7,000 bacteria per swab? In some studies, keyboards revealed themselves to be dirtier than toilets! Now that fact probably made you jump out of your chair and run for a Lysol® wipe!
6. Prevent Incoming Clutter
Lastly, now that you’ve wiped down your workspace and given homes to your desk items, you’ll need to defend your area, especially since clutter always seems to find its way into our lives. One way to protect your workspace is to clear your desk every day before leaving the office, instead of waiting for clutter to slowly. build up. This way, each day you’ll come into the office, and you’ll have a clean, well-organized workspace ready for you to focus on the day’s tasks.
Your workspace doesn’t have to be a completely spotless and sterile environment, but it should be organized in a manner that allows you to be focused, free and efficient. By decluttering, you can decrease the feeling of being overwhelmed at work and reduce stress in the process!
Now that we’ve shared with you, we would love to hear from you. Do you have additional spring cleaning tactics for your work space? Share below in the comments!