Few people would self-identify as slobs, but a quick glance at most people’s living spaces would provide little confidence in their ability to systematically organize their lives.

Organization seems to be a skill that we’ve left in the past – particularly in professional settings where offices, desks, and workspaces are often overwhelmed by computer cords, stacks of paper, takeout boxes, and misplaced personal effects.

Well-organized office space

What would it take for you to maintain a well-organized office that sets you apart from your peers? (Hint: It requires less work than you think.)

Importance of an Organized Office

An organized office sounds like an ideal goal, but why? What is it about an organized workspace that matters? Well, here are a few justifications:

1. First impressions

As the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a strong first impression. If you’re inviting clients or business partners into your office, a clean workspace speaks for itself.

2. Clarity of mind

A disorganized space often leads to a disorganized mind. The more orderly your physical surroundings are, the calmer your mind will be on the inside.

3. Easy access

Have you ever been on a phone call with an important client or vendor and tried to find a sheet of paper that you just knew was on your desk? A messy office can be frustrating. A well-organized office gives you easy access to what you need when you need it.

4. Cleanliness

Organized offices are more likely to be clean and sanitized, which is very important – especially during the cold and flu season.

Tips for keeping a clean desk

Practical Ways to Keep Your Office Organized

Now that you’re clear on why an organized office is important, let’s take a look at some of the more practical ways you can get your office in order:

1. Give Every Item a Home

Every item in your office needs a place to go (and that place is not on your desk or in a pile on the floor). Try organizing your office by zones. One zone – which might include a couple of drawers and a shelf – might be earmarked for office supplies. Another zone could be for filing documents and records. Another zone is for personal items – such as a change of clothes, toiletries, and snacks.

The important thing is that every item has a place to go so that you can safely and securely organize everything with minimal effort and energy.

2. Keep Desk Items to a Minimum

No matter how large your desk surface is, it’s a good idea to keep desk items to a bare minimum. Your computer monitor, mouse and keyboard, a few organizers, and a picture of your family are enough. The majority of your belongings can be placed in drawers and cabinets – most of which are always within reach.

3. Develop a Paper System

Though the majority of business communication now happens digitally through email and cloud-sharing platforms, there’s still a lot of paper coming through the typical office. If you don’t have a plan for how you handle this influx of paper, an organized desk can quickly devolve into a frustrating mess.

A good paper system involves three-stages. You need a bin or organizer where you place all incoming items that you haven’t yet addressed. Once you start working on something, it then gets moved into an organizer that lets you know the item is in progress. Once it’s finished, you file it away in the appropriate folder or toss it in the trash.

4. Take 5 Minutes at the End of Each Day

Green Residential, a Houston-based property management company that works with landlords to help keep them organized and on-task, suggests committing to a daily catch-up.

A daily catch-up is a five-minute window of time at the end of the day where you tie up loose ends, clean off your desk surface, file away papers, and set yourself up well for the following morning.

5. Your Computer Desktop Matters, Too

In today’s business world, it’s not all about keeping your physical office clean. You also have to think about the digital messes you’re making. In particular, you should focus on keeping your computer desktop clutter-free. Keep icons and files to a minimum and use a clear folder system to file important documents away. This will prevent unnecessary distractions and make you more efficient.

Employees working in a clean office space

Adding it All Up

We all think and function differently. However, if there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that less physical clutter and disorganization paves the way for better mental clarity and focus. Take the time to develop a system for organizing your office and you’ll perform better on a daily basis.