Working from home often leads to a multi-use offices that quickly get cluttered with an asundery of random items: work projects, home pieces, networking business cards, financial receipts, bills and data, literature, kids items / reports, on-line print outs, supplies, mail, investment material, to-do lists, marketing material, etc.
Could it be true how your desk look reflects the condition of your mind? How does that line go? A messy desk = messy mind or is it a cluttered desk = a cluttered mind, or my husband said trying to defend his “full” desk, a empty desk = an empty mind, and then quickly working to redeem himself from any “clean desk people” said an organized desk = an organized mind… I am not sure how it goes, but it is worth thinking about as it is true our environments help contribute to our mental/emotional functioning. There was a study a few years ago, that measured the productivity of both messy and clean desk people and it was shown those with a clear desk were able to work faster and more efficiently.
Therefore, whether you are clean desk or messy desk person, it can behoove your productivity levels to work towards desk organization. Here are 3 simple steps for working towards that goal.
1) Have labeled “HOMES” for your things. If you collect receipts, have a basket, box or container labeled RECEIPTS so that when they arrive at your desk, they do not become part of the sea of papers, rather are put in the home. If you do not label the container, it can become acceptable for other things to also inhabit the home, negating the point of a home. Labeling it allows you to “sort” and “organize” by grouping, and beginning the system of keeping similar things in the same place (allowing you to find it quickly).
2) Clear your desk each night. If you can make a 10 minute habit of clearing your desk each night, you will avoid things from getting buried and forgotten, you will address things that going “messy” when you were in a hurry and return them to their homes for quick retrieval next time and you will have a fresh start for the next day. It is hard to focus on projects when you are distracted by reminders of a myriad of things lingering on your desk, distracting your mind to think about them and temp you to multi-task or procrastinate.
3) Touch it once. File things as they come in, make a decision about things for example mail, open it, read it and trash it or file. It is often easy to set it down to deal with it later, but if you get in the habit of using homes (having places were things wait, hold, live) you will find you can quickly reference things and reduce the clutter and disorganization.
Often people say they do not like to file things because they are afraid they will forget about them. It if fine to have a basket for “ACTION ITEMS” or a bulletin board with a header “TO DO”, but it still has a home to go rather than just piling things on the desk. Some people will make the argument messy desks are just signs of creative people, however if you desire an organized desk and increased performance the use of homes, nightly cleaning and touching it once will help you increase how you feel and act in your office.