Organizing Your Workspace

We all hate to do it; it is the adult equivalent of being told to clean our rooms. We defend it with slogans like “A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind” or try to convince ourselves that somehow our disorganized space is a reflection of our intelligence or creativity.

However, there are several reasons to organize your space, not the least of which is to increase productivity. The average worker loses at least one hour a day due to disorganization. Anxiety is increased in a cluttered environment. Coworkers will judge you by the state of your desk. You may be seen as unprofessional, immature, or worse.

#1: A clean desk is, well, clean.

It is disinfected, doesn’t have trash or food items lying around, and is nice and disease-free. So, first, throw away all that trash, empty soda cans, and food items. Think about getting nice, seal-able containers for all that snack food. Your co-workers will thank you, unless they are roaches.

#2: Slay that paper dragon.

Get some folders. If it is not important enough to go in a folder, then throw it away or shred it. Yes, that means that sticky note with all your passwords on it.

#3: Toys and clutter.

Yeah, that Mr. Robot Pop! figure and Spider Man bobble head look great there. However, they are taking up space and may even be distracting. You know that ball that you play with while you are on conference calls (yes, we can all hear you playing with it), chuck it. Got a home office? It is even more important that your workspace is not your home space. Getting rid of all that non-professional clutter can help you get into the proper work mindset. If you have to have personal stuff, keep it down to three items.

#4: Keep all your supplies corralled.

Keep the pens, stickies, note pads, and stapler all in one place, and decently organized. I am not talking about lining the pencils up, but I am also saying it should be above open-and-toss junk drawer status. You will be amazed at how much time you save hunting for things.

#5: Get comfortable.

Seriously, adjust that monitor to eye level height, fix that chair so it quits hurting your back, and get rid of clutter under the desk or on the floor. Change the position of the desk to reduce glare. Move the phone so you don’t have to reach across your body to answer it, and adjust the armrests to actually rest your arms. Look up some ergonomic guides, you will thank me later.

#6: Tame the wire snakes.

Get some tie wraps, cable organizers, or tracks and get the wires under control. Wires going everywhere is an accident waiting to happen.

Geez, Mako, you really sucked the fun out of my room. How am I supposed to enjoy working? Well, I am not saying you can’t personalize your office, just keep the desk clear. Put a plant out, hang a poster, knock yourself out. Get a custom mousepad, or a pegboard where you can hang things out of the way, or a dartboard with your boss’s face on it to hang on the back of the door.

But I am telling you, if you are even slightly ADHD or have anxiety, try the clean desk approach. Even if you aren’t, maybe one of your coworkers is, and you are silently driving them crazy.

Dr. Pamela Peeke says that messy spaces make us feel helpless, hopeless, and impacts our cortisone (stress hormone) levels. Before you get a standing desk to lose weight, you should consider that weight gain and disorganization have been linked in similar studies. There are a lot of benefits to this, and as a former messy desk owner, I have definitely seen a difference.


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