I read an article about this a couple of years ago in Forbes magazine. It was very funny and when I look at my desk, I think of that article at times. Of course, I am guilty on all counts because my desk is never CLEAN and always looks like a hurricane hit it. As I look around at all my papers and sticky notes, I think it might be a good time to post things I remember from this article.
Of course, this article had to do with how your co-workers would view you, if you kept a messy work area, so probably most of us aren’t in this situation where too many people can see “our mess.” Supposedly, a messy work area is a real downer and can affect productivity, yours, and your co-workers. This is because this situation can be an overwhelming picture.
The article gave tips to keep things organized, which mainly included putting things away in files, not using your email as a “to do” list and going through your junk drawer every month to weed out things that have accumulated that you don’t need. Of course, added to this list is to hang up any outerwear, etc and not to leave things lying around on the chairs because any visitors would have to sit on them, etc.
You’re also not supposed to have anything on your desk that you’re not working on. What? My desk is loaded with stuff all the time. Remarkably, I can find what I’m looking for, usually, because I know which stack it’s in and how far down to look.
Here are some of the things from that list:
Create a daily filing system. Well, I do have one of these, but it needs cleaning out. I’m sure I don’t use it as intended.
Set a limit as to how much stuff you’ll tolerate in the beginning. Okay, here is another problem because I can’t resist books. Tell me please, who can limit themselves to one bookshelf? No, I am not a kindle user, so don’t even go there.
Go through your junk drawer every six weeks. Put a note on the calendar, if necessary, so you keep this appointment with yourself. Okay, who really has time to do this? And I know we all have a junk drawer where you can throw things when you’re cleaning up in a hurry.
Don’t use email as your “To Do” list – most of us are probably drowning in email, this can be as bad as physical clutter. GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY. This is definitely me.
Keep your monitor clear of sticky notes and reminders. This I can’t do. I will never remember all the stuff I have to do otherwise, even with excessively emailing myself. I must note that many of the emails I send myself are things I want to read later, but don’t have the time to do now. So it's not all things I have to do.
Keep personal stuff picked up so any visitors won’t have to sit on them, such as your coat. When you work from home, or are retired, this is not a problem. Who is going to need to come in and sit down? In my office, you’d have to move a cat anyway, probably.
Know your habits when it comes to storage such as magazines and newspapers – get rid of them as new ones arrive. Okay, I can do this except for the newspaper articles I want to keep. I am not a big magazine collector. I don’t have the time to read them. This is probably the only thing on this list that I can halfway do.
Clean your office regularly to get rid of junk, dust, food, fingerprints, cups, etc. Hmmm... Well this gets done semi-regularly in my space.
Keep only what you need at arms length. This suggests extra pens, stacks of papers, old coffee cups need to go. Everything else needs to be in the “zones” you have created for them. Who has an office this big?
Divide your workspace into zones. This means have a place for your computer, a library place for research, a place for filing, a place for storage and archives. Seriously, does anyone do this? Same as above, who has an office this big?
I will end this by saying that I am one of the worst offenders of sending email to myself, so it takes me forever to clean out my inbox. In fact, I usually never get this task completed. I’m an organized person, but you would never know it by looking at my sticky notes adorning my monitor and walls and other surfaces as well. I swear that I must keep the 3M people in business.
I admire any of you who can complete half this list, and stick to it. I’d rather be writing.