Your NYC Professional Organizer would like everyone to have a productively organized workspace, even if allowances must be made for some creative clutter and the disorder of work-in-progress. But when does that lively jumble morph into something unmanageable which can affect how others view you, and negatively impact your job prospects? According to Techjournal.org, 38 percent of employers said that desks covered with paper created a negative impression of an employee. Twenty-eight percent of employers said they would be less likely to promote someone with a messy workspace. How to tell if you’ve crossed the line?
An obvious red flag is if you’ve received complaints from co-workers about your space, or worse yet, from your boss or supervisor. It’s easy to get comfy with one’s own clutter, but someone else’s is not so nice. Try to see it with the eyes of your colleagues. A great way to do that is to take photos of your workspace, and view them later when you’re not at work. Take shots from a number of angles, and you might see what your boss and colleagues see, and what perhaps you no longer see. That’s the first of my office organizing tips: Take honest stock of the situation.
Another important starting point is to make the distinction between clutter and trash. If you have used coffee cups, food containers, candy wrappers, uneaten anything, or little tumbleweeds of dust drifting across the prairie of your desk top, then you need to get to work. Happily, this is one of the easiest things to fix. Throw out the cups, food waste, gum wrappers, etc., and get out the spray cleaner and a paper towel, shove your work papers to one side (we’ll deal with those later) and apply some elbow grease. Make it a habit to remove all such debris every day before you leave, and receive the thankful smiles of your colleagues in return. That’s a biggie among my office organizing tips: Stay ahead of it!
Despite technology, the workplace still generates tons of paper, and a good deal of it tends to collect in various shapes on desktops around the world. As a NYC Professional Organizer I see this everywhere I go. Dealing with paper organization is an ongoing task, but it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming one. Choose one day per week to completely clear out your in-box. Throw out or recycle anything old, anything that’s already been handled, menus, memos, or that cute cartoon you meant to put on the office bulletin board six months ago. Papers should only collect temporarily in your in-box, as that space is specifically designated for new, incoming mail.
If despite all this you feel that your office is still wildly out of control, consider coming in on a weekend or holiday. You can wear your sweatpants, bring a thermos of your favorite coffee, play music, and enjoy a relaxed environment as you sort through your piles of stuff.
Remember, keeping your office organized is not about passing a white-glove inspection. It is about creating an environment where work and ideas can flow in and out.