The phrase “spring cleaning” may not immediately have you thinking about tidying up your workspace. It’s easy to leave this area off your to-do list, whether your desk is at home or back at the office. So you may not be surprised to learn that only about 20% of us regularly clean our desks, despite them being home to over 10 million bacteria. If you’re like the average professional, you spend a considerable portion of your waking hours at your workspace. Having a clean, organized desk area isn’t just good for your health, but it can also positively impact your productivity and mood too.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the problems with messy desks, show you the simple steps you can take to tidy up your desk area, and the benefits of keeping your workspace clean and organized.
The negative effect of a messy workspace
When you’re busy working diligently on tasks and projects, it’s not uncommon to suddenly realize you have a messy workspace. Some professionals may brush a messy desk off as helpful for creativity, but this isn’t always the case. A cluttered workspace makes it difficult to find the documents you need, reference notes you took during a critical meeting, or stay focused and productive. In fact, 40% of professionals admitted that a cluttered workspace decreased their productivity and 20% felt a messy desk directly impacted their work performance.
While disorganized offices clearly have a big impact on an employee’s ability to work, the problems don’t stop there. The same employees who struggle to keep a clean workspace were also often negatively perceived by managers and coworkers as being unorganized and not proud of their work. With such a far-reaching impact, it’s clear that cleaning up a messy work area provides several benefits.
Tidying up in eight easy steps
Whether you’ve let your desk slip into a state of disarray or you are chronically disorganized at work, it’s never too late to start tidying up your desk. Here are eight simple ways you can get organized at work—and stay that way:
Step 1: Start with a purge
An overly cluttered desk can get overwhelming quickly, making it difficult to know where to start cleaning. If your workspace feels this way, set aside a few hours to do a complete purge. Start with loose documents and office supplies, then move on to bigger items that add to the clutter of the area but don’t help with your productivity. Don’t skip this step—a desk purge will help you take inventory of your clutter and better help you assess what items are necessary.
Step 2: Evaluate each item
This may feel like a daunting task, but it’s a necessary step in the tidying up process. You may quickly realize how many duplicates you have of office supplies, documents, and more that you can combine, put into storage, or donate. Any easy way to evaluate these items is by creating different piles for what you need on a daily basis and what only needs to be accessed occasionally. This will make it easier to know what items will require storage space or what can be tossed.
Step 3: Get organized
Once you have purged and evaluated your desktop items, you can begin the official organizational process. This can take on many forms, including using labels or color systems, or investing in storage containers or filing drawers. Giving the documents and items a home and a proper “address” will not only reduce clutter on your desk but make them readily accessible when you do need them. Many organizational and storage options don’t take up much space or can be tucked away in desk drawers, leaving your workspace free for essential day-to-day items.
Step 4: Minimize desk clutter
Which items do you need to accomplish your everyday tasks? These are the only items that need to take up space on your desk. While family photos, travel souvenirs, and other memorabilia are pleasant to look at, having too much can leave you feeling cramped and unorganized. Try keeping a rotation of one or two of your favorite items or consider adding shelving around your desk (if you work from home) to store these items away from your main workspace.
Step 5: Make cleaning up easy
Clutter can quickly get out of hand if you don’t have an easy way to keep your desk area clean. Instead of leaving things like wrappers or paper on your desk, have designated trash and recycling cans in your office. You won’t have to make special trips just to throw items away and they will reduce the temptation to let trash pile up on your desk. Similarly, a container for pens or storage shelves for notepads provides designated spots for these items to go once the workday is done.
Step 6: Consider rearranging
If your workspace gets messy quickly, even after being organized, you may want to assess your desk layout. Most likely, there is a better way to arrange your laptop, monitor, keyboard, and other essential items to help keep your space clutter-free. If you prefer staying organized with physical to-do lists or planners, put them in an easily reachable location. Cleaning and organizing your workspace doesn’t mean your desk is completely free of any items, but that items are arranged to maximize your daily workflow.
Step: 7 Complete a digital cleanse
Just like your desk can become cluttered, so too can your computer become overrun with electronic clutter, causing you to potentially miss important to-dos, emails, or project updates. First, cleanse your computer by purging unnecessary photos, videos, and documents and putting the rest in cloud storage. If to-dos are cluttered and confusing in your project management software, delete unnecessary tasks and create project templates to improve consistency. Just like your desk space, your online space should have designated locations to keep all digital files and projects organized.
Step 8: Stick to a system
Workspace organization is not a one-time activity. In order to maintain a clean desk area, you need to develop a daily system that works for you. This may involve taking a few minutes at the beginning of each day to clean up, sanitize, and organize your desk. You may be tempted to wait until Friday afternoon each week, but cleaning for five minutes a day will help ensure that you can start the day fresh and remain focused and productive at work.
The perks of a clean, organized workspace
The value of an uncluttered workspace cannot be underestimated. Desk cleanliness helps increase workplace productivity by 84% while helping workers stay focused for almost 8 minutes longer without getting distracted. You may find that having an organized desk area also helps:
- Increase efficiency
- Reduce stress
- Boost morale
- Minimize waste
- Improve focus
Go digital for better organization and productivity
One of the biggest causes of desk clutter is paper documents, from time off requests to employee applications to expense reimbursement forms and more. All these documents not only increase the chances of harming your productivity but can get lost, leading to missed information and process bottlenecks. One simple way to boost your day-to-day organization and workplace productivity is to go digital with FormAssembly’s data collection platform.
Our platform provides a streamlined and user-friendly way to collect the information you need through secure online forms. Using FormAssembly, every department in your organization can eliminate disorganized paper processes, minimize information errors, automate workflows, and help everyone be more productive and efficient. Plus, all the information you collect through FormAssembly forms can easily be routed into Salesforce so you can maintain clean, up-to-date records for reporting and analysis, effective sales prospecting, profitable marketing campaigns, and accurate business planning.
Concerned that your organization’s data might need a little tidying up as well? Read through our Data Cleaning Checklist to get the essential steps you can start taking today to clean and organize your data.