Sometimes all it takes for us to get our life together is for us to get our stuff together. Part of getting our stuff together requires cleaning off our desktops. The physical ones. Not the computer ones. However, computer desktops should be purged every now and then as well: digital clutter is a thing that happens too. And for most of us, clutter equals bad. Declutter equals good.
I don’t know about you, but for me it’s extremely difficult to concentrate when I have a bunch of things scattered around me. It’s distracting and makes me feel like I have a lot of unfinished business; which, in turn, causes me to feel like I wasn’t very productive at the end of the day. I also have a bad habit of interrupting my main task to tidy up all the little things around me throughout the day if I feel that there’s a lot of clutter around me. As you can probably tell, that’s not the best way to get anything done at all.
My solution to this problem? …I don’t actually have one! Not a tried and true one anyway. I know, I know: I should be ashamed of myself! But before we go and exile me to a time-out corner, let me explain what I do to handle this situation.
How to Work Around a Messy Desk
I don’t know how many of you are able to start your days full of energy after spotting the abomination that is your messy desk. I know I definitely lose all motivation when I see something like that. So if you’re one of the few that can work through the clutter, I really admire your perseverance!
If I arrive at my work area and it’s full of books, paper, pens, etc. from the day before, I usually take some time to declutter before I start working. True, it would have been more ideal to have tidied up at the end of the previous day, saving me from the trouble of having to clean up just before starting work. But sometimes these things just happen: you finish your work day and you’re exhausted; you just want to go home, get into comfy clothes, and lounge around. I totally get it. I do! No one’s judging.
My tidying up procedure isn’t some big event. For the most part, I just place things where they belong: pens and pencils in their holder(s); books piled neatly on the side somewhere (if bookshelves aren’t available); and paper either thrown in the recycle bin or in a file folder. Another technique is having a “junk” box. Just throw everything you currently don’t need in that designated space to be dealt with at a later time so you can place all your focus on more pressing matters. Just remember not to abuse that box and to clean it out so that it doesn’t pile up with clutter and cause you even more problems in the future.
A lot of the time, that’s all it really takes to have a nice, fresh looking desk that’ll motivate you to want to do amazing work on it. A neat pile on the side of your desk is enough to make you feel less anxious and allow you to fully focus on your to do list for the day.
The Benefits of Having a Clean Desk
Having a clean desk is like taking a breath of fresh air. If you don’t have a huge pile of books and papers scattered about, it’s less likely that you’ll lose an important document in the midst of it. Not gonna lie, I’ve had this happen to me more times than I’d like it to: I put something aside because I was doing something else, then I find it a few months later in random places or folders they weren’t supposed to be in. I remember one time when I had to get a co-worker to fill out an important form again because I’d misplaced it when she’d submitted it the first time. Then a few days later, after she’d resubmitted the form to me and I put it where it belonged right away, I miraculously found the one I lost before!
If avoiding the kerfuffle of losing important documents still isn’t enough to convince you that working on a tidy desk is more beneficial, here are seven more reasons to declutter your desk:
- You won’t feel so crowded.
- Your space will always look presentable and professional.
- If an impromptu meeting occurs, and it has to be done in your office/within your work area, you won’t have to scramble to clean up.
- If you ask someone to work with/for you and they need to use your desk, you won’t feel so bad about having them there and possibly making them feel uneasy with all the mess.
- You can avoid having anyone else accidentally see confidential documents.
- When someone (co-worker, boss, friend) asks for something like a book or a print-out needed for a presentation, you can immediately hand it over because you won’t have to spend a lot of time tracking it down in the bowels of the mess on your desk.
- You won’t knock something over every time you move.
- Your pride in your work- space will shine through your effort of keeping it clean.
So what’s stopping you from cleaning off that desk? If you think you just don’t have enough time, block it off in your calendar or set aside some time to do it. Let me know if you’re someone who can deal with all the clutter or if you prefer your surroundings to be pristine in the comments below!