Do you know people who say that they are most productive when they have a messy desk? Despite the arguments that I’ve heard, piles are not organization and you cannot be creative or productive with a messy desk. When inspiration or motivation hits, you don’t want to be searching for space to set down your work or fighting back the flood of stuff on your desk. (Plus you could be damaging your posture working on top of the piles). As the founder of UAE-based startup Decluttr Me, we are in the business of creating relaxed, productive and sacred home and work environments. We clear the clutter and organize what is left into proper manageable systems.
Here are my top five tips to start having a clean, organized and productive desk area:
1. Paperwork Protocol Even in the age of emails and digital technology, there are times when you will have paper on your desk, which needs to be dealt with. Have one place to keep your incoming papers. Basically, you should create an inbox tray for actual hard documents.
2. Systemize Use this acronym (F.A.T.) to deal with all documents and items that pass through your desk every day (even emails). When you receive something new, either “F” File it away immediately, “A” Act on it, or “T” Toss it (preferably in the recycle bin).
3. Proximity Place a recycle or trash bin nearby. If you have to get up from your desk and walk to the other side of the room, then it is too far.
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4. Pare down Get rid of the excess; you do not need three staplers and two rulers on your desk. You don’t even need more than two pens. Return all those excess items to the cupboard and remove them off your desk. If you need anything, exercise those legs and go get it when you actually need it. (You will also be saving your business money on reducing the amount of waste and clutter.)
5. Wipe the slate Spend the last five minutes of your day cleaning your desk. Put the papers in their designated areas, store confidential items in your desk drawers and remove those biscuit crumbs. By cleaning your desk, you bring closure to your work day and set yourself up for a clean start first thing in the morning.
An organized work area helps you get more done. It starts by giving you space to actually work, instead of stacking new work on top of old (and possibly unactioned) work. Keeping your desk clean actually does improve productivity, if only because you can actually prioritize what needs to be done and when.