OK, so you read somewhere on the Internet that Albert Einstein had a really messy desk, and so did other geniuses in history. Like most people, you automatically create a link between a messy desk and creativity, so you leave your desk the way it is.
Regardless of what people say about these genius’ desks, it is a fact that majority of business owners believe that a clean and organised desk leads to increased productivity. In all honesty, pointing to the messiness of the desks of geniuses is just an excuse to not do anything about your own messy desk.
Cleaning up a messy desk is one thing, but keeping it that way forever can prove to be a tall order. Here are some tips to keep your desk clutter-free permanently.
Remove all things that don’t belong on your desk
One thing that does not belong on a desk but is commonly there is an electric fan. No matter how small the fan is, it can still take up precious space that should be reserved for more important desk stuff. The same goes for radios.
Keep only stuff you need
This applies to things that actually belong on your desk, like office supplies. To determine which office supplies you constantly need, try this little experiment. Store all of your office supplies in a box which you can put on or near the desk. As you get office supplies, keep track of the things you take out of the box for a week and see which ones are taken out more frequently. That way, you will be able to choose which office supplies should be on your desk all the time, and which ones you can actually keep in that box.
Purge your papers regularly
More often than not, most of the papers you have on your messy desk are already irrelevant to the work that you’re doing today. So make it a habit to routinely browse through every single piece of paper on your desk and see which ones are outdated and which ones you currently need. File the outdated papers away, and let the papers relevant to your work stay.
Use drawers properly
Most of the time, the items that clutter your messy desk can actually be stored in your desk’s drawers, if it has any. However, you need to arrange them in the drawers according to relevance to your day-to-day tasks. Naturally, your most important work stuff—staplers, pens, pencils, etc.—should be in the top drawer, which is the drawer closest to you. It is then up to you to determine which ones should go in the lower drawers, according to importance of course.
Do some colour coding
It is not uncommon for people to get their paperwork for work and home mixed up on their messy desk. Colour coding can help you avoid this kind of mess. Assign a different colour for each type of paperwork, and you won’t have to spend a lot of time leafing through labels and content ever again just to see what it’s all about. One look at the colour and you’ll know what it’s for, even on a messy desk.
Out with the in/out box
In/out boxes have been a staple of office desks for a long time. While useful, their horizontal design also serves as an invitation to pile on the files until you can’t see out of your messy desk anymore. These days, a more viable choice is a vertical step file holder. With papers being held in a vertical stack, there would be no more flat and horizontal surface to dump countless files on.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. More importantly, you need to make these tips a habit if you want to keep your desk clutter-free permanently.