National Clean Off Your Desk Day!

Jan. 12 is National Clean Off Your Desk Day.

To avoid a cluttered desk, I recommends not keeping things you don’t use routinely on your workspace surface.  Take a look around your office, cubicle, or work area.  Do you have adequate work space? In other words, is there an uncluttered work surface - commonly referred to as a desk - where you can work? What can you remove, archive, store or re-adjust to make your work space work? Many times, small adjustments can create a more usable work surface.  Take inventory, make the most of your space.

Here's some strategies if you have a cluttered desk?

Having a clean, uncluttered desk space is essential to sustaining energy, productivity and focus.  Begin by streamlining and simplifying.  As work arrives, the surface of the desk gets more difficult to see, which is natural and at times necessary, but sometimes the visual clutter isn’t just the paper.  Many work spaces, are not just overflowing with piles of paper, but also with telephone(s), computer, mouse, mouse pad, vertical files, organizers, stacked horizontal trays, and the list goes on.   Start by cleaning up surface clutter, and you will feel instant gratification.  It becomes visually pleasing to see what was once cluttered now nice and neat.  But it is just as important to tackle clutter in drawers or cabinets; even though you can’t see it, you know it’s disorganized.


Why should you clean off their desk?

Having an uncluttered work space will leave you feeling energized and more productive.


How should you file papers?

The reality is that you may have to "touch" each piece of paper more that once and go against the OHIO rule (Only Handle It Once).  It's how you handle it the first time that makes the difference between clutter or organization.  When there is a lot of desk clutter, the best way to begin is to gather it up, making one or, if necessary, more piles and go through each piece of paper and use DAFT.  Here's a method of sorting through papers and clutter to help you decide what to do with it: DAFT. The letters stand for the following:


D: Distribute or delegate. Give it to the person who should have it.

A: Action. Attach a task to the clutter by asking, "What is the next action I need to take?" For example, you receive an invitation and need to RSVP.  Decide when you will reply and put the to-do in the task list on your planner or calendar (electronic or paper).

F:    File it or put it away (and do it now!).

T:   Throw it away. The wastebasket is your friend -- it is like a pet and needs to be fed.


Where should you put everything?

Look at how your desk is arranged.  Decide where you want your working surface.  Due to the design of your office, you may not have much choice.  Is your computer taking up more room than it needs because of its location on your desk?  Can you move your computer or phone(s) or other large, electronics tools to give you more space?  Do you use the office supplies you keep on the desk, like stapler, tape dispenser, paper clip holder, pen/pencil holder or files regularly?  Can you move things you don’t use routinely from your work space surface and store any of these items away in a drawer?  If you have shelves, are you using them effectively?  Is there space underneath the desk to hold a file or storage unit on wheels?  Look around, what can you remove, archive, store or re-adjust to make your work space work?


Before you begin, think about how you want to organize, and write it out on paper.  For example, the top file drawer in my office is dedicated to my daily projects.  The middle drawer is dedicated to my monthly reports.  Before you start emptying things out, have a thought-out written plan in place.  


What can they do to keep organized all year?

Now that you have a plan to reduce the clutter, keeping the clutter at bay it the next challenge.  The solution is to have a strategy that’s easy to remember:  CHER (not the singer).  The letters stand for the following:


C: Convenient.  You need to find a practical and convenient place to store the things you need regularly.

H: Habit.  Make putting things where they belong a habit or ritual.  Be consistent, and you’ll never wonder where you put something.

E: Easy to maintain.  Once you have made something a habit, it no longer requires a lot of thought or time to put things away.  The process becomes effortless.

R: Resilient  over time.  Your system will survive the test of time.  Because it’s resilient, you can update it, review it, and revisit it when something doesn’t seem to be working.  The goal is to have it work for the long haul.  


Use this strategy and you will be organized all year and you can ignore National Clean Off Your Desk Day in 2016 and beyond!

Posted on January 7, 2015 .