Why is a messy workspace so bad? You might think that it really doesn’t pose a problem. Most geniuses tend to be messy pigs right? Well, whether you’re that genius or not, messy workspaces slow you down both physically and mentally. You become less productive and sometimes less energetic.
There are some small things you can do to prevent clutter from accumulating.
- Clean in bits – Don’t let trash have a chance to grow bigger. Mess begets more mess. Whenever you take something out, make sure put it away! Whenever ever there’s a single piece of trash on your desk, throw it away immediately. It is much more manageable to clean up small things. By handling clutter when it’s small, you never need to worry about big messes and your desk always stays clean.
- Keep only what you need – Your things on your desk should be things that are in your immediate use. This has to do with cleaning in bits but whenever you finish a task, “archive” it. What does “archiving” mean? It means to store documents, projects, or anything in general for easy reference in the future. When you archive something, you know you won’t be using it for a while so you put it away (preferably in an organized fashion). For example, I like to keep one folder for things I’m working on during the current week. Whenever I’m done with a week, I archive those assignments put them in binders I leave in my room. Anything older than a week on your desk should probably be put away.
- Dust your desk – Wipe your desk with a moist cloth/paper towel every 3-4 days to keep dust away. Whenever there are food particles, dust, or small bits of any crap, you’ll start to mentally believe that it’s okay to have a bit of clutter on top. Actually dusting your desk forms a sense of cleanliness and a reason to keep it clean like “I just cleaned this desk…I should probably try to keep it clean.” Another reason that dusting keeps your clutter-free is that in order to really wipe your desk, you can’t have anything on top (that means clean that clutter on top before you wipe).
- Create a organizational system – I’m not talking about your files and documents. I’m actually talking about the top of your desk. Have a cup or something to hold your pencils and pens. Maybe have a special area or even a tray to hold papers, and if needed, another spot for your computer/laptop. Allot a certain area for staplers, tape, etc. Having some sort of system for everything on your desk lets you know what’s out of place and helps you fix it. You’ll easily be able to tell when clutter is forming. Not only this, but you’ll be able to find things quicker and hence be more productive.
- Make it “look” clean – Worst comes to worst, at least make your desk “look” like it’s clean. The eye works wonders on your brain. Just making something appear clean almost has the same effect on your productivity as if it really were clean. Don’t rely on this or substitute this for the real thing. What do I mean by this? If there’s a bunch of papers lying around, make them into a stack and place it in some corner. If you have knocked over soda cans, bottles, or bags lying around, make it at least look neater by putting the cans and bottles upright and together in some other corner. Put all those “miscellaneous” items together in some organized way. Essentially, what you are doing is setting up so that you can really clean this stuff up later. This is why this can’t substitute for real cleaning.
Every time you leave your desk, quickly go through these tips and you’ll be well on your way to staying clutter-free.