Does a cluttered desk really lead to a cluttered mind? Neatniks will argue that a tidy and orderly work area is absolutely essential to doing effective work. Messier people, on the other hand, will argue that there is a “method to the madness” and that clutter does not necessarily translate to disorganization.
You may be comfortable with some papers or books piling up on your desk, but it is important to recognize when a chaotic workspace begins to hinder your work productivity. Does it take you 20 minutes to locate the report you need for a colleague? Do you have a hard time focusing on the task at hand because of the mess around you? If so, it might be time for a little spring cleaning to clear your desk and your mind.
Work Productivity Through Organization
1. Start with the papers.
The flurry of papers that descends on your desk every day can be challenging at best, seemingly impossible at worst, to tame. Begin with this spring cleaning task because it is usually the most difficult, and everything else will be easy by comparison.
Divide your papers into piles according to category, then file them in a way that you will be able to find and access them easily. This can be as simple as clearly labeling file folders and keeping them in a rack on your desk or as intricate as color-coding and alphabetizing folders in a large filing cabinet—use whatever system works for you, just as long as every paper has a home. Ask for help from an organizationally gifted colleague if you are having trouble getting started. If you maintain this system, you will notice a positive change in your work productivity.
2. Find a place for everything.
Are you familiar with the saying, “A place for everything, and everything in its place”? Many times, a messy workspace is created when you simply don’t know where to put your possessions. Look closely at your desk and its drawers and identify the items that always seem to be in the way and have nowhere to go. Now think of a solution you can implement to improve your organization. For example, if you have a habit of pasting Post-It reminders all over your desk and then losing track of them, consider putting them up on a bulletin board instead. If you have a drawer full of loose paperclips, pens and highlighters, buy a segmented drawer organizer to make it easier to find what you need.
3. Get your hands on cleaning products.
When was the last time you actually wiped down your desktop or computer? A lot of dust and grime has probably accumulated since then, so finish your spring cleaning with a thorough dusting. Clean the desktop with a damp rag and a little spray cleaner; tackle the computer screen and keyboard with electronic wipes and a can of air duster.
Do you find that having a tidy workspace improves your work productivity? Do you have any plans to do a desk spring cleaning?
Learn more about EDSI’s Increasing Personal Effectiveness course.