Having a clean desk has a lot of benefits. You become more organized, it is easier to focus on one thing at a time, you fulfill security and confidentiality requirements and a clean desk gets washed more often by the cleaning staff. However, maintaining a clean is a challenge for many of us. I therefore made a collection of easy tips that will help reducing the clutter on your desk.
1) Have an in- and outbox:
This alone will have a large impact since you organize the document traffic to and from your desk. All new items first go to the inbox and remain there until you start working on them.
2) Handle each document once only:
A major source for wasting time and keeping too many documents on your desk is starting something without finishing it. So when taking a document in your hand, try to accomplish all related tasks, so that it can go into the outbox, filing or delegated area.
3) Throw more away:
Be selective in filing. In case of doubt - throw it away. Be careful with documents that fall under legal or company policy retention periods.
4) Clean your desk every day:
Clean your desk every day before you leave the office. You reduce the maintenance effort through the daily exercise rather than making a big cleaning once per week or month. Another benefit is that you will enjoy a clean desk every morning when you arrive at your desk.
5) Don’t use post-its:
Post-its are a great invention. But people using them a lot tend to have them scattered all over their working place. The risk is high to overlook or lose them. Instead you better have a nice notepad on your desk, where you input all notes and reminders. You go through the notes from time to time and update your to-do list and other information and strike them out after completion. If you really can’t live without the colorful post-its you can also use an electronic version on your computer. It keeps your desk clean, it is easy to carry them with you and the probability of losing one is lower.
6) Reduce the number of pens:
Did you ever compare the number of pens in and on your desk with the number of pens you really use on a daily basis? Throw away all the pens you don’t need or don’t like and keep your 2 or 3 favorite ones. The same accounts for markers - in general two or maximum three colors will be sufficient.
7) How about photo frames:
Having photos of people we care about on our desk is a nice thing, but the frames also requires precious space. Reduce the photos as much as possible or even ban them from your desk. You can have these photos on your mobile phone or on a website like Flickr, where you can arrange nice photoshows. This also has the advantage that you are able to look at them when you are out of office.
8 ) Take your books home:
Many people keep a large number of private books in their office. Most of the time these libraries seem to serve as an impressive demonstration of the owner’s knowledge rather than being used regularly. Take the unused books home and free up your desk. If you want to keep certain knowledge with you, make an extract of the best information and store it on the Internet or your PC.
9) Don’t collect magazines, newspapers, etc.
A lot piles I have seen in other people’s offices are made of all kind of magazines and newspapers they want to read later. In fact these piles tend to become higher and higher and correlate with the feeling of desperation just thinking of getting through all that stuff. If you see an article you want to read later, take out or copy the page and don’t keep the entire magazine or newspaper. If you keep the whole thing, you sometimes even don’t remember anymore what you found interesting. Never keep daily newspapers. You can find most articles online and the really important things wil be covered for more than one day anyhow. If you have difficulties getting through your daily newspaper I recommend reading a weekly. They focus on the summary and you can skip the daily events.
10) Don’t print emails to read them:
Don’t print emails to read them. This is wasting time, printing costs and it is a very good source to keep your table scattered. If you feel that it is hard to read emails on the screen, consider purchasing a bigger screen. I am sure that this investment will pay off quickly.