Growing up, I had the messiest desk in my classroom. If you're old enough, you may remember those crude wooden desks with the hollow center that you can stuff things into. Well, mine was so bad that at one point a teacher dumped the contents of my desk in front of the entire class and then had me rearrange it. So embarrassing! As an adult, I find that working with a cluttered desk reduces my productivity. It became clear that I had to create some new habits so that I could find things and not be overwhelmed by clutter. Research shows that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so I vowed to spend 3 weeks following these habits, and sure enough, my office became a cleaner, more organized space.
Papers lead to clutter, and that leads to a cluttered and unproductive space. I keep all my dishonest documents in a file on top of my desk, and I check them every day. That way, if I need to get rid of something or move it to a more permanent location, I can do it or shred it. By the way, I love to shred to get rid of papers, what a cathartic.
I line everything up parallel and perpendicular on my desk before I leave each day. This type of organization is very easy on the eyes and tends to feel much less cluttered. That way, when I get to work each morning, I start with an organized desk everything looks tidy and ready for a new day.
Whether you use your keyboard and mouse wirelessly, or simply hide existing cables in your space, a cable-free environment will make a world of difference in how clean and tidy your space feels. There are a number of smart products on the market to help wrangle and hide cables, and of course using something like a docking station for your cell phone will naturally hide these annoyances as well.
These things have a habit of sticking around once they're done. It's all too common to find a handful of dirty Starbucks cups or ceramic mugs on the desks of most offices I've worked in. Be vigilant about throwing them away or taking them to the break room and washing them for future use.
Everything in your office has a home, and if it doesn't, you must find one for yourself (preferably out of sight), or you must part with it. Before you leave each night, do a general cleanup of your desk and return everything to its designated spot, that way a clean workspace awaits you in the morning.
This is one of the habits I follow religiously every week. I keep a general-purpose microfiber cloth (in fact, I use a Maker's mini now, since it takes up less space) on my desk along with a small spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner. This preparation allows me to quickly clean all the surfaces in my workspace (desk, mouse, lamp, etc.), as well as all the screens that inevitably end up with dust and fingerprints.
Finally, while this isn't necessarily related to cleaning, it is related to organization: I always have a to-do list for all the things I need to accomplish that day, including one-time cleaning jobs. This sounds so obvious, but it keeps me on track: what gets programmed gets done.
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