Whether you work in an office with colleagues, or at home, a clean and tidy, well-organized desk space helps set the tone for the day. It’s always a good feeling, looking around and knowing the cleaners have been. Sure, some may say that a tidy desk is the sign of an uncreative mind (after all, Mark Twain and Steve Jobs weren’t known for their desk organization skills), but they are the rare exceptions to the rule.
There are plenty of advantages to having a well-organized, tidy desk or workspace.
1) Make your work time count.
Whether you’re working for yourself or for an employer, the best, most productive way to spend your work hours is doing the job you’re there to do. But if you spend a substantial part of your day rummaging around the items on your desk trying to find that document, the memo, or even the pen you need, you are wasting time.
2) Clutter is not a good look, ever.
Even if you are not frontline staff, your boss may well invite guests to visit the office. As your employer’s representative, it’s up to you to help show your workplace in a professional, efficient light. An untidy desk looks sloppy, disorganized, and inefficient.
3) Cleanliness is next to healthiness.
Have you got any idea how dirty your keyboard and desk can get? The National Center for Health Research has published university studies that show that the average desktop contains 400 times the level of bacteria than the average toilet seat. Keep your workspace as clean as possible by getting a regular wipe down by commercial cleaners.
4) Confidential papers need to stay that way.
During the day, it’s fine to have those essential contracts on your desk. You are referring to them several times during the day, and it’s far more efficient to have them handy than putting them away in-between times. But at day’s end, make sure all confidential or sensitive documents are cleared off your desk and filed in a safe place.
5) Your boss is more likely to appreciate your work ethic.
If there is an important, prestigious job to be done, and your boss is looking for the ideal candidate, who do you think they will choose? Surveys done in the UK have shown that the boss is more likely to consider the person with the tidy desk to be the most organized and, therefore, the person who will score that most important of jobs.
6) Other health benefits
If you are looking at a computer all day, while operating a mouse, writing, and searching through papers, common sense will tell you that you need to optimize your desk layout for your personal comfort. If your computer is too far away or at the wrong angle, or you have work papers or files strewn over your desk in no particular order, you will quickly notice the pain and strain in your eyes, neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, and probably one or two other body parts.
Your colleagues may not always agree with the idea that a good desk organization is a good thing. What might some of them say if you suggest that they might need to tidy up a bit?
My desk is not cluttered! And even if it is, I know where everything is – I have a system!
That may be true, but what happens if you have to take an unexpected day off? Will your colleague in the next cubicle understand your desk organization system well enough to be able to find those critical papers easily? If the answer is “no,” then perhaps you should reconsider just how efficient your system is.
I like to personalize my workspace, so the memories stay!
Family photos, souvenirs from your last trip overseas, or the supporters’ gear you wore when your team won their competition should be on the “nice to have, but don’t go overboard” list. Remember that you are at work to, well, work, and so keep the distractions to a minimum.
Don’t touch my stuff – clean around it if you must.
Your office cleaners are limited in the time they can spend cleaning up after you. If they have to remove all your paperwork, your ornaments, your unique pen holders, your library books, your (half) empty coffee cups, or your used tissues off your desk before they can even begin to wipe down the surface to remove all the nasties that you’ve covered up with your paperwork, ornaments, etc., they’re going to have far less time to do the rest of the office. Why not make their job as easy as possible, by at least throwing your rubbish in the trash and clearing your desk surface so it can get a good, hygienic wipe down?
I never waste time “looking” for things on my desk.
Why not test yourself, by timing how long it takes you to find one randomly selected object. Multiply that time by how many times a day you look for objects on your desk. This is the time you could be spending doing productive work every day.
Aim to see a clear desk every day.
A functional and efficiently organized desk shows a positive attitude towards your work. At the end of each day, clear away the files that you’ve finished with, and congratulate yourself on a job well done. And if your professional cleaners are able to access your desk’s surface to give it a good wipe down, you can start the new day in the right frame of mind to achieve even more today.