You’re more productive when your desk is clean. Don’t believe it? It’s easier to find things when there’s less clutter on your desk. So rather than spending seven minutes looking for that file you misplaced, when your desk is clean you’re able to jump right in and get to work.
Your messy desk is holding you back. Here’s how you can change that:
1. Put a trash can nearby where you can reach it
If you’re unable to throw things out from where you’re sitting, chances are more garbage will accumulate in your work area. An easy fix: get a trash can and put it nearby — within arm’s reach, if possible.
2. Throw garbage out immediately
Once you have a garbage can, you’ll have to condition yourself to throw trash out the moment it’s in your hands. Don’t set garbage down on your desk with plans to come back to it later. It’s almost impossible for your desk to get cluttered if you never leave trash on it for more than a few seconds.
3. Clean your desk at the end of every day
Before calling it a night, briefly scan your work space to see whether or not you’re leaving any minor clutter or messes around. Throw out any garbage and clean up any spills or coffee stains that may have accumulated over the course of the day.
4. Make major cleaning a recurring to-do item
Whether you’ll need to do it once a week, once a month, or once a quarter depends on how messy of a worker you are. To maintain a clean workspace, it’s recommended you start considering cleaning your desk as a responsibility of your job. Set aside a few hours when necessary to restore your desk to optimal condition.
5. Stop eating at your desk
You might be tempted to eat at your desk because you think it’ll boost your productivity. But everyone needs a break from time to time. Instead of treating your desk like the cafeteria, make a conscious effort to eat at your desk as infrequently as possible. When you’re on a tight deadline you might not have much of a choice. But in most cases, you can probably afford to flee the office for a few minutes.
6. Organize your drawers
Keeping the surfaces of your work space clean is a nice start. But if your desk drawers are filled with garbage and clutter, you haven’t really improved your situation that much. You probably have a lot of junk in your drawers that needs to be thrown out, so throw it out. Once you’ve cleaned out everything you don’t need, develop a filing system that works best for you, and keep your files to a minimum moving forward.
7. Stop stockpiling supplies
You don’t need 78 pens. You don’t need seven pads, either. Just because your office has a stash of supplies doesn’t mean you need every feasible product on the planet within arm’s reach. Don’t stick a stapler on your desk if you never, ever use one. You probably don’t need that hole punch, either.
A clean workspace gives you a clear mind, as clutter causes fatigue. So not only will you be more productive when your workspace is clean, but you’ll also produce better work.