Spring is finally upon us, which means we can leave the office and experience real life sunlight (hopefully)! It also means it’s time to get everything tidy and organised. You’ve probably already made a start on cleaning your home, but it’s important to clean your work space too – as this is where we spend a huge portion of our day! A messy desk can be a distracting element, and it could actually give your colleagues (and more importantly, your boss!) the opinion that you are an unorganised individual.

Here are 10 ways to give your work space a much needed spring clean, and keep it clean moving forward:

Clean and tidy office
photo credit: Brent Ozar / Flickr

1. Get rid of any clutter

Getting rid of any unnecessary clutter is the first step you should take, and you will be surprised at how effective this simple step can be in revitalising your work space! Our desks collect a lot of pointless things over time – be it old documents, notes, pens that no longer work and even old food wrappers. Spending a bit of time getting rid of any redundant items from your desk or drawers will make your work space look much cleaner already.

2. Only keep important items within arm’s reach

Our desks have drawers for a reason – to keep the desk surface as clear as possible. Most desks are covered in all sorts of things, and we probably use less than half of them frequently. Once you’ve cleared your desk from any clutter as in the above tip, why not sort out your actual desk space and ensure that only essential items that are used daily are kept within arm’s reach. For example, you only need to keep a couple of pens in your pen pot – not every single piece of stationary ever in the world.

3. Keep a short-term storage tray

There will be documents that we need on our desks and not hidden away in our drawers, and (well-organised) paper trays are perfect for this. The reason these trays can get so messy however, is because people often get into the habit of placing any document they are given in the paper tray. This can make important documents incredibly difficult to find, so use the paper tray logically – for example use one shelf for documents that need dealing with in the short term and use others for different types of documents that may be slightly more long term.

4. Shake out your keyboard

Office jobs always lead to one thing – snacking at our desks! It may not seem like you make many crumbs when you do, but that’s because your keyboard catches them all. Turn your keyboard upside down and give it a vigorous shake, and you will see for yourself! Another tip is to run the sticky section of a post-it note through the gaps in the keys, as this will help to collect the more stubborn pieces of dust and dirt.

5. Keep surface wipes in your drawer

Surface wipes should always be kept handy. Our desks may look tidy once we’ve de-cluttered them, but they’re certainly not clean yet. As well as crumbs, our desks are prone to tea / coffee spillages, dust, general dirt and a lot of bacteria! Giving your work space a quick once-over with an anti-bacterial surface wipe only takes a minute, and the more frequently done the better.

Cleaning up a touchscreen
photo credit: Intel Free Press / Flickr

6. Keep anti-bacterial hand gel in your drawer

This links to the above tip, and doesn’t directly keep your work space tidy, but applying some anti-bacterial hand gel throughout the day is vital. You may wash your hands when you pop to the loo or cough at your desk, but not every colleague will be as clean as you. Consequently, our keyboard, mouse, or communal items such as the printer can all get covered in bacteria. Kill them every now and then with some gel, and encourage your colleagues to do the same!

7. Tidy up your desktop

So, you’ve already tidied your actual desktop, but what about the desktop on your computer? The whole point of saving documents to the desktop is so they are easily accessible, and that’s certainly not the case when the document or program you need is hidden amongst 50 others. File or delete anything that doesn’t need to be there, and you’ll find your work life will become much more organised and productive!

8. Use binder clips to keep things looking neat

Binder clips aren’t just useful for keeping documents in place, but also for a whole host of hacks that can help to keep your work space organised. For example, instead of having your headphones in a tangled mess on your desk, why not neatly fold them around a binder clip on the side of your desk. They are also great for keeping cables organised and in place.

9. Use a notebook as a to do list

Notebooks should also be kept on our desk – for those creative ideas we randomly have throughout the day, to make notes on any phone calls or meetings and they can even be used as a to-do list! Post-it notes are really handy for this, but it’s far too easy to overdo them. Before you know it, your desk is covered in yellow, and tasks that have already been completed remain stuck to your computer screen. Adding to do tasks to your notebook keeps your desk free of post-its, and they can be simply ticked off once they have been done. You could even keep a Word doc open on your computer, and create a to-do list on there!

10. Get rid of any distractions

This tip is one to keep your work mind-set clean and tidy, which is just as important as keeping your work space tidy! Don’t keep your mobile phone on your desk, as even the temptation to look at it is a distraction in itself, let alone actually sneakily checking it and texting your friend back! When you’re working on something important, you should consider turning your emails off if appropriate. Stopping what you’re doing to answer an unimportant email can throw you way off track and it can be difficult to get back into the zone with your task.