Check out a person’s work desk and you can likely tell if they are orderly or otherwise. An office desk, after all, is very likely reflective of the worker’s personality. While we should all strive for a neat and orderly work station, a certain amount of clutter is acceptable. For as long as that clutter is still “coordinated in its chaos” – that is, you still knows where everything is located – the situation should still be under control. But clutter can get to the point where it detracts from your productivity.
If your cluttered desk has caused you to lose important documents or spend precious work hours looking for a stapler that’s been buried underneath mounds and mounds of stuff, then you have a problem.
According to a 2011 study by researchers from the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, when you surround yourself with clutter, the many stimuli in your visual field compete for your attention. These make it difficult for you to focus and process information, so you end up being less productive than you can and should be.
If you want to declutter your office space and become more productive, you can do so in four easy steps.
Step 1: Declutter the Surface
Treat your work cubicle in Salt Lake City as a piece of real estate. Big or small, if you clutter it up with lots of odds and ends, its value depreciates. This is especially true for the surface of your desk. So, take time to go through the stacks of paperwork and other things. Make it easier for yourself by segregating everything into four categories:
- Keep – These things include documents for the projects you’re currently working on and other similar items. Keep these on the surface, organized in folders and within easy reach.
- Trash/Recycle – Throw out anything that’s not needed anymore, including old paperwork and items that aren’t working or that no longer add value to your work.
- Shred – Some documents need to stay confidential, even if they are part of past projects.
Instead of simply throwing such documents into the trash, it’s better to shred them before discarding them.
- Relocate – If you have out-of-place items on the surface of your desk, return them to their proper place. These include pens and other supplies, which you can put in drawers or other storage spaces.
Step 2: Organize Your Drawers and Storage Spaces
Once you’re done decluttering your work surface, focus on your drawers and other storage spaces. Repeat the same four steps you applied to your workspace, then move on to the task of organizing. Paperclips, pens, and file folders are the items that should typically be in drawers and storage spaces, along with a few office supplies.
Step 3: Personalize Your Space
If you spend a great deal of your day at your desk, it’s nice to have a few personal things around. However, you can’t put every single meaningful item in your workstation. Limit special mementos to about three items. Maybe a framed picture of your family or your pet, a small indoor plant, or a couple of favorite books? A few personal touches ensure that your workspace doesn’t look too austere, but doesn’t come off as too cluttered, either.
A clean and organized cubicle communicates professionalism, whereas clutter can project a poor work ethic. Without too many unnecessary things surrounding you and with items placed where they should be, you’ll have less distraction, more focus, and improved productivity.