I used to be a major slob! I collected paperwork, piled it into big piles on my desk, in my drawers and if space ran out even on the floor. Usually I knew how to find what I needed pretty easily and fast, but at times it was a real ordeal to find that specific piece of paper. My family still knows me this way, and to be frank sometimes I still work in this fashion…old habits are hard to beat.
At work though, I have turned around completely. It started when I read Getting Things Done and got enthusiastic about the system. I quickly started with step one: Gather the stuff and put it in the inbox. Oh boy, the pile of stuff I compiled onto that tiny inbox…it squeaked under the immense pressure of tasks unfinished. And me too by the way.
The pile of stuff was overwhelming…but the room was tidy! And I liked that. Fast forward in time, and I have adopted many of the habits of GTD. I’m no star in keeping with the system, but the habit of keeping an empty inbox and of archiving instantly are two I cherish. They keep my desk clean (photos at the end of this post) and my work organized.
Having a clean desk and a tidy office has several major benefits. Here are five of them:
- No visual distractions
A clean desk ensures that there is nothing lying around to distract you. No visible piles of paper with unfinished tasks, no visible magazines that might be interesting, no visible nothing. Just emptiness that helps you to focus on the task at hand.
- Usable desk space
The desk is empty and provides ample space to put all the relevant (paper)work in an orderly fashion on the desk. This helps to get the task at hand done with the most convenience. No piles of paper are consuming space and no piles with paper tumble over and fall on the ground.
- Easy on the eyes = easy on the mind
A large part of interior design is focused on giving spaces a specific atmosphere. The atmosphere influences people kind of like a mirror. A peaceful space creates a peaceful atmosphere where people feel at ease. A colorful and dynamic space creates a vivid atmosphere and sparks creativity in people. A clean and tidy space creates an atmosphere without distractions and stress and supports people being focused.
- Cleaner and more hygienic
Most companies have cleaning services and they are mostly not allowed to move around papers and stuff that’s on a desk. An empty desk is easy to clean and gets cleaned more often. Even if you have to clean it yourself, an empty desk and a tidy office are easier to clean than a messy office and desk. Oh…and don’t forget to clean your keyboard too!
- Appearance of great organizational skills
A clean desk and a tidy office bring up the appearance of a person that has things organized smoothly. If you’re able to maintain you office in this state, you must have your business in perfect order. Even if this is only the appearance (I hope not) this already is a benefit when you have people coming in your office, your boss, your subordinates or whomever.
The photos below show how my desk and office look right now, I really enjoy the empty look! That laptop is gone by the way, it was stolen from my car last weekend A good reminder of keeping your files on the network (which I did thankfully), or making good back-ups.