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Occupational Hazard: Keep Your Desk Neat and Clear Your Head

keep your desk neat

Occupational Hazard: Keep Your Desk Neat and Clear Your Head

We get it. The workday seems to be getting more and more hectic. Checking your email, sitting on conference calls, creating presentations and meeting deadlines can quickly overwhelm. But one way to keep calm and carry on is to keep your desk neat and office space tidy.

Despite recent reports that a messy desk can support creativity, it’s fairly limited to the idea of keeping files accessible, not a desk full of post-its and pictures.

keep your desk neat

Use these ideas to keep your desk neat:

Garbage in, garbage out. No, we’re not talking about your Snickers habit. This is about the empty soda can, sandwich wrapper, balled up paper on your desk. Don’t let it even touch your desk.

Unlike the occasional Post-it (but more on that later), any litter on your desk isn’t even momentarily useful. It’s simply using up valuable desk real estate, distracting and potentially even depressing. When something goes from useful to refuse, immediately find a garbage can or recycling bin. No exceptions. Seriously.

Don’t get too personal. Hey, everyone loves that picture of cute kittens rubbing noses with the elephant (or whatever). But you add that to photos of your children, your wedding, your last vacation and soon you have a living room mantle, not a desk.

[bctt tweet=”Some experts suggest limiting your desk to no more than three personal items. Keep the rest in a drawer and swap them out from time to time.” username=””]

Pitch the Post-its. Like the potato chip ad, it’s hard to have just one. To keep your desk neat, you need to use Post-its as a short term reminder, not a task organizer.

In this era of technology, there are tons of great online systems for tracking tasks, from Wunderlist to Todoist to Trello, all of which are greener and neater than a colorful flurry of sticky notes. And please, don’t adorn the edges of your monitor with Post-its – they are meant to be temporary, so keep them that way.

Monitor the messiness. Like most things, it’s easier to accomplish neatness with regular upkeep rather than once a month marathon cleanup sessions. If you actually schedule time to organize, file, and tidy up, it will feel like less of a burden.

Bonus points if you make it a daily appointment with yourself. Make a cup of coffee and take a mid-afternoon break. Not only will it refresh you from that slump, it will keep your clutter under control.

Photograph it and forget it. If you need a reminder to restock on paper clips or get a new ink cartridge, don’t leave the empty reminders lying around. Snap a picture with your phone, and check it at the end of the day.

Keep your desk neat to clear away stress.

It’s fairly well documented that a messy desk is one cause of workplace stress. And while you can’t get out of that 9 a.m. Monday morning meeting, you can at least sit down to an office space that prepares you for the week.