Control the Clutter! Quick Ways to Clean Your Workspace Now

Desk MessWith a heavy workload that includes an overstuffed e-mail inbox, chaotic workspace, and piles upon piles of paperwork, it’s easy to get bogged down in the clutter that a day at the office creates. When your desk is a mess, it’s difficult to know where to begin your day. A clean desk helps you feel in control no matter what’s unexpectedly thrown at you. And, as a leader, it’s important to set the standard of organization and efficiency you expect from your employees. Overlooking a deadline or an assignment because it’s buried somewhere deep in your office can become a hazard to your productivity and to your company.

If the sight of all the mess threatening to swallow your desk has you breaking out in a cold sweat, now’s the perfect time to dust off your workspace for a fresh and sparkly clean start, just in time for spring.
Not sure where to begin? Clean the clutter in your office with these quick tricks.

Your desk. If you’re having trouble finding your desk underneath the piles of files, papers, and to-do lists, set some time in your day to reorganize the papers into three divisions: action, file, and trash. And, don’t be afraid to put things in the trash pile. If a news article has been sitting on your desk for the last month, chances are you’re not going to read it, so muster up the courage to throw it away.

After you’ve organized everything into piles, quickly dump the trash pile and don’t look back.

Next, tackle the action pile with the strength of Mr. Clean. Organize it by order of importance. But, also take into consideration how long an action will take to complete. If the action item is merely sending a reply e-mail, stop what you’re doing and respond to get it off your list. Assign tasks to others if they can help get items off your plate, so you can move on to other matters.

You may not be able to get everything taken care of in a short amount of time, but organizing the information into manageable piles will help you clearly see your next step and get you on the road to a mess free desk that glistens with the victory of organization and productivity.

Your e-mail.
A crammed e-mail inbox is often the most overwhelming space to clean. But, it’s also one of the easiest to clean. If you’re getting alerts on a daily basis that your inbox is full, it’s time for drastic measures. It might be frightening, but you have to hit delete. Don’t waste your valuable time reviewing every message. Instead pick a date, preferably within the last six months and delete everything before it.

It sounds scary, but if you haven’t used it in the last six months, chances are you won’t. At the very least, drag all your past e-mails to an archive folder, so you can start fresh. After you’ve deleted older e-mails, sort them by size or name and delete what you don’t need. Once you’ve deleted enough e-mails to leave your inbox in a manageable state, create a procedure you can follow every day to keep it that way. Bill Jensen, author of the Simplicity Survival Handbook: 32 Ways to Do Less and Accomplish More, advises readers to scan e-mails for actions they must take and dates and deadlines, within the next two to three weeks. If a message does not have an action and a deadline, delete it to eliminate a large amount of unnecessary e-mails and time wasters. Learn to scan your e-mails, and be disciplined and consistent about it. This will keep you up-to-date on the day’s work and prevent your inbox from bursting at the seams.

Your contacts.
If you still have a rolodex, bravely go where many have gone before you. Add your rolodex contacts to a computer program like Microsoft Outlook or Access. Your contact information will be easy to find and always at your fingertips. But don’t spend a lot of time inputting your contacts. Instead, input only your frequently used contacts and toss the others. With internet access, most contacts are just an online search away.

Your desk drawers.
A graveyard of half-used pens, business cards, lost paper clips, and uneaten breakfast bars, there’s no telling what clutter monsters are lurking in your desk. Brave the dust bunnies and ink spills and eliminate as much of the trash as possible. Add business cards you find there to the contact information on your computer, and throw away the physical card. Toss out used pens, and keep only three or four pens with caps in your drawer. And, using desk organizers is a great way to get organized and keep your drawers spic and span.

When you’re busy managing employees and leading your team, it’s easy to overlook the daily task of organization. But, clutter and disorder can wreck havoc on clear thinking and productivity. So, when you’re ready to spring clean, try these tricks to get your space in shape for a refreshing and energizing environment that promotes efficiency and serenity. Since most of your time is spent at the office, decluttering your workspace is well worth the effort.

9 Responses to Control the Clutter! Quick Ways to Clean Your Workspace Now

  1. Miranda February 26, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    I really like this article! Great tips!

  2. Tiffany Monhollon March 1, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

    It’s like someone came into my office for research on this one. Oh, the piles and piles of files I will never use.

  3. Sonja March 5, 2010 at 10:36 am #

    I know the tip on emails is for me. I really have a hard time getting rid of emails.

  4. Mike Heffner March 14, 2010 at 6:27 pm #

    Ahhhh…Dont look in the dreaded drawer. The other day I had to find something in it. It was there, but it took me 10 min to find a way to shut the drawer again 🙂

  5. Bill Peterson April 6, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    E mails are a huge problem. I have learned to archive them so I stll have them but I make an effort to clean out those that are at least a year old or those with which I am sure I can part.

  6. Charlee April 6, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    I’ve learned to treat your desk as if you were dying tomorrow. If no one else can figure it out, then you need serious consideration of the contents. Keep personal stuff out of the office…lose the collages, knick-knacks, multiple photos, etc. You don’t need a year’s food storage in the drawers, and your little black book should be kept in a briefcase or hand-bag. Trimming the trimmings will help keep you focused and if you die tomorrow, no one can make ugly comments on your housekeeping abilities!

  7. Doug February 28, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    I spend a lot of time accessing multiple reference books, technical papers, doing a lot of calculations, and generating ideas. It takes me a half hour to put all these books and papers away at the end of the day and another half hour to get started again if I do. I’ve tested the clean desk theory and my productivity plummeted and a couple of my apprentices tried my way and their productivity was horrible.

    The clean desk theory works for some people but it does not work for others.

  8. r4 ds November 10, 2014 at 4:25 am #

    Thank you and hope to see you again here 😉 . I’m happy to see you here 😀

  9. Zequek Estrada January 3, 2017 at 1:49 pm #

    Brie, you make some wonderful points. I love that you included emails as well. That’s something that’s hard for me to keep uncluttered. I feel like it can help to hire professional cleaners every now and then to take care of the office.

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