Desk clutter creeps up on you before you realize it. Aside from being a disorganized mess, your cluttered desk is a home for germs, dust, and perhaps even moldy old food.
Even with a professional cleaning service on your side, a dirty desk is a health risk you don’t want to take. Clutter makes it much more difficult to give your surfaces a proper cleaning, and that means your workspace just keeps accumulating gross stuff.
On top of that, a desk covered in crumbs, scattered documents, stray paperclips, old business cards, and other doodads sends a less than professional message to visitors.
Want to keep your desk cleaner?
Here are some helpful tips to conquer desktop clutter and take back control.
Use Storage Spaces Properly
Office managers, if you notice that a lot of your employees have messy desks, it might indicate a lack of storage for important items.
If you have desk drawers, cabinets, and folios and your desk is still messy, it’s probably time to change some habits.
Stuff you use many times throughout the day can stay on your desktop. That might be a couple of pens, your headphones, the scratchpad where you take notes, and your water bottle, for example.
Other things that you use only during part of your day, like blank forms or a staple remover, should be filed neatly in a drawer or cabinet where you can reach them easily without getting up. This category probably includes most of your office supplies.
Finally, you probably have things at your desk that are useful, but not part of your everyday routine. This blogger keeps a blanket for days when the air conditioning is a little to chilly and a small teapot for occasional afternoon treats, for example. All those extras can get tucked away.
One quick warning about storage, though:
When your clutter is out of sight, it’s also out of mind. That’s great for productivity, but it also makes it easy to just add more clutter to your desktop because you forget what you have.
Resist the temptation to accumulate more things than you need, else your drawers will spill over with junk.
And that brings us to the next tip:
Each Week, Start Fresh
Part of the reason that clutter is so difficult to deal with is because it sneaks up on you.
You don’t just come into work and dump a bunch of useless junk on your desk. It happens gradually as you save that hot sauce packet from lunch, and add another novelty pen to your pencil cup, and forget to take home the plastic container from your lunch, and your coworker gives you a stress ball to fidget with, and…
Fight clutter creep by scheduling a few minutes every Friday to sort out your desk extras.
Throw away any trash or useless junk. Check your drawers for snacks and other things that should probably come home with you. Scan papers that you don’t need anymore, and get rid of all the little reminders that have been accumulating all week.
When you come in on Monday, your desk will be clean and clear, ready to start a productive workday.
The Friday desktop sweep can be difficult if you hesitate to throw things away, though. That’s why this next tip is so important:
Let It Go
Do you really need 2 stress balls, a magnetic sculpture, a novelty paperclip holder, and a Rubix cube on your desk?
Of course not.
But which of those things do you keep, and which do you toss?
It’s hard to throw things away when they clearly have some kind of value, even if they’re not particularly useful. Those desktop toys cost money, and if someone gives you a gift, how can you turn it down?
This is what makes desk cleanup difficult for so many people. If you fall into this category, you’re just going to have to take a deep breath, look at all the stuff that’s taking up space on your desktop, and decide what gets to stay and what has to go home or in the garbage.
Limit yourself to 1 or 2 novelty or decorative items if you’re the type that tends to cling to things. It’s not an easy decision to make, but the clarity and cleanliness of your decluttered desk is worth the couple seconds of difficult decision making.
Keep It Clean
Maintaining a clean and hygienic workspace takes good habits and regular attention, but it’s worth the effort. Your health, your productivity, and your mental wellness all improve in a clean and clear environment.