Is the surface of your desk hidden under a pile of papers? Is your computer monitor framed with layers of sticky notes? Do you have trouble remembering where you put that important website proposal? If so, you’re not alone. However, it’s important to realize that a messy desk is impacting your work life more than you realize. A cluttered desk can reduce productivity, cause you to lose important documents and can even start to bother your coworkers. In a study by Addeco, 57% of people have judged a coworker based on the state of his or her workspace. Even if your messy desk doesn’t bother you, there’s a good chance that it bothers the people around you.

The good news is that getting back on track requires only a little bit of planning and commitment. If you’ve let the clutter on your desk get out of hand, it might be time for some early spring cleaning. Whether you’re in a cubicle or the c-suite, here are a few tips to help you re-organize your desk and the area around it:

Set a weekly appointment to clean

Set aside some time every week to clean your desk. It’s important that you stay on top of the clutter consistently so that it doesn’t accumulate over time and become too much to handle at one time. Set a recurring reminder on your calendar every week to tidy up your workspace. You’ll only need to spend about 15 minutes every week for cleaning if you keep up with your schedule. During this time, throw out any trash or items that you no longer need, gather personal items that you need to take home, and file loose paperwork that’s been sitting on your desk.

Be mindful of your piles

Many people see piles as an effective method of organization; however, making piles on your desk rarely reduces clutter. Be mindful of how many piles you have on your desk and how many items go into each pile. This tip is also helpful for organizing other items such as office supplies and books. Instead of letting things overflow into a new space, establish specific zones for all of your items. Give everything a place, and then set limits on the amount of items that can go into each space. For example, once you’ve filled up your bookshelf, bring one book home for every new book you add – instead of letting the books pile into another area of your desk.

Don’t use the top of your desk as storage space

As a rule of thumb, flat surfaces should be kept clear and all you should have on your desk are the items you use frequently and need immediately. The boxes of pens, staplers, and stacks of papers need to be put away in drawers and filing cabinets. You can reduce the clutter on your desk by only keeping the essentials on the top of your desk such as your computer, keyboard, phone, writing utensil holder, notebook, drinking cup, and one personal item. Additional office supplies should be placed in designated spaces inside of your desk and loose papers should be filed away.

Organize the area around your desk

Organization shouldn’t be restricted to the top of your desk. It’s equally important for you to organize the area around your desk as well. Cleaning the floor around your desk will instantly lighten up the feel of your desk space. Items such as gym bags, purses, outerwear and extra shoes can quickly overwhelm your desk and make it look chaotic. If possible, hang hooks in your office to get coats, bags, and umbrellas off the floor. If this isn’t an option, see if there’s another space in the office where you can put all of these items such as a drawer or shelf.

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