A clean desk is a great way to make a professional impression on clients, partners, and even your coworkers. A cluttered desk is a sure sign that you don’t have your “crap” together. When you don’t have a clean desk, it tells people that you’re willing to let things go — even a task like organizing your work area and keeping it that way — a job that literally takes a few minutes a day when you’re vigilant about it.
Even if your workstation is located in a home office, keeping it clean and organized will still boost productivity and allow you to focus on whatever you’re working on better without being distracted by the chaos cluttering the surface of your desktop. Think about the impression a good haircut, clean suit, and snazzy shoes have on a client or business partner. They’re essential in most industries.
Here are some easy to use tips to keep your desk cleaner in the coming year.
Everything on your desk needs to earn it’s spot.
Athletes need to earn their way on to a sport’s team, and maintain their spot to be worthy. When they start to drag the team down, they’re going to get cut. Nothing should be on your desk that doesn’t need to be there. For instance, do you really need to keep a big clunky printer right there in front of you when there’s a place on the other side of the office it can go — somewhere more inconspicuous where it isn’t in the way? Same thing for office supplies and anything else you don’t use on a regular basis such as file folders you rarely access, pens, highlighters, old coffee cups, waste, paper phone books, etc.
Keep regularly used items within reach (and downsize your desk).
It’s easy to start knocking things over when you constantly have to reach for things. A well organized desk is one that’s scaled down to a size that only fits your essentials and doesn’t stretch over “miles” of office real estate that requires excessive reaching or rolling around on your chair to get to things. It’s common for the CEO to have the biggest desk in the place, and for subordinates to have smaller, cubical-sized desks. However, an smaller workspace allows you to stay better organized, provides less room for junk and clutter, and keeps you on task better than one that forces you to divert your attention from work to grab things like your phone, headset, paper files, pens, etc.
Have a desktop storage solution (with labels).
You’ll have to find a storage solution that meets the image and functionality requirements of your workplace. If that workplace is your home, plastic storage containers with pull out drawers might be just perfect. If you’re office isn’t keen on desktop “tupperware”, you might need to settle for a mesh organizer, or opt for a more expensive wooden or sleek aluminum organizer. There’s lots of places to find what you need including Ikea and other furniture stores, place that sell crafts, or online sellers like Amazon. Put labels underneath storage areas or on drawers to make it easier to find what you need. You can even have a space dedicated to clutter that gets an audit whenever you have time throughout the week.
Stop eating at your desk.
This is the biggest mess-making-habit you can engage in at your desk. It invites trash like food containers, wrappers, and more. Once they start to accumulate, those who’re prone to be accepting of a messy workplace will naturally allow food related messes to accumulate. Even food waste thrown in your workspace’s trash container will create smells that linger and offend. Crumbs, liquids, melted cheese, etc., don’t just make messes you can see either. Your keyboard and mouse all suffer from the accumulation of crumbs and grease in their creases and crevices, reducing lifespan, and killing productivity when they finally fail.
Schedule a desk wipe-down at the end of every day.
Wiping down your desk every day will force you to clean up and organize any clutter and provide you with a clean desk the following day. On a psychological level, it can signify the end of a workday and let you breathe a sigh of relief. It’s easier to maintain a clean workspace than it is to go on a binge cleaning spree when the mess finally becomes too much to bear, or worse, someone points out how cluttered or disgusting your desk looks/smells.
Follow these tips and commit to a cleaner desk and workspace this year. You’ll thank me later!