As an administrative professional, you know more than anyone how important organization is to doing your job well. Details are your bread and butter, and effectively keeping track of a myriad of information for others is one of your key responsibilities.
“Organized chaos” may be fine for some and have its place in certain environments, but for the majority, having a clear, clutter-free workspace is essential to being productive. A clean work area is doubly important if you are a receptionist or in a similar position where you (and your desk) are often the first impression office visitors have of your employer. Plus, studies have shown that physical clutter can negatively impact your performance by competing for your attention and increasing your stress levels.
Struggling to keep your desk neat and tidy? Check out the quick tips below for maintaining a presentable, inviting, and productivity-boosting environment.
- Keep trash and recycling bins nearby. Simple as it sounds, having these receptacles within reach will stop you from amassing unsightly “trash” and “recycle” piles on your desk. No longer will you use the “I’ll throw this away next time I get up” excuse.
- Use drawers strategically. Another somewhat obvious suggestion, drawers and storage solutions will help keep your surface area clear (and easy to clean) and eliminate distractions. If you aren’t working on something, keep it out of sight in a drawer. When you finish a project, file those documents away and pull out the next task’s materials.
- Set up a physical inbox. Designate a tray, folder, or other space strictly for incoming documents so they don’t get lost among the other materials on your desk. Think of this box as a “to do” list and only move/refile items once their associated task is complete.
- Regularly review and clear out your loose paper files. It’s common practice to try to print as infrequently as possible, though sometimes it is a necessity to have hard copies. During busy periods, you may suddenly find yourself with stacks of unorganized documents. As often as possible, go through loose papers on your desk and either toss/shred them or file them away in the right place. Another option is to scan documents to your computer if your “must keep” pile gets out of hand.
- Cut the clutter. Decorating your desk can certainly bring joy, but don’t go overboard with the photos, knickknacks, etc. Keep these items, especially those without a specific purpose, to a minimum.
- Do a quick cleanup at the end of each day. If you spend a few minutes cleaning every day, it’ll be much easier to maintain a well-organized work environment over time. Straightening up at the end of the day also ensures your space is presentable in case someone (perhaps your boss) comes by after you leave or before you arrive in the morning. Plus, what’s better than tackling each day with a clear desk (and mind)?
- Do a complete overhaul. Every once in a while, take everything off of your desk and out of your drawers and put them into boxes. As you work during the next few days, note what you use and what you don’t. Described as “starting from scratch” by Whitson Gordon in his LifeHacker article, “Top 10 Office Decluttering Tricks,” this helps you determine what you actually need and what you may have quickly stashed away in the past just to get it out of the way.
Craig Jarrow – 10 Tips to Keep Your Desk Clean, Organized & Productive
Joshua Becker – The Simple Guide to a Clutter-Free Desk
Whitson Gordon – Top 10 Office Decluttering Tricks
Erin Doland – Scientists find physical clutter negatively affects your ability to focus, process information