Monday, June 20, 2011

How to keep (and stay) clean at your office

It's easy to go unrestrained in an office when you don't keep things in check. You might pull something out because it is needed then get distracted and completely forget about it.  The distractions are endless no matter where you work and the piles can only get higher and deeper. So here are some simple tips to help you keep clean and organized.

  1. Keep a system for all of that paperwork! 
    1. This could be an inbox (which should only be used as an inbox) where once you are tasked with a duty you handle it so it's done and your inbox stays within control.
    2. Filing cabinets do wonders as long as they are properly maintained and organized. So keep extra filing folders handy and labels so you can always put them in the proper folder and not laying on your desk waiting to (never) be put away.
    3. Keep a recycling bin and trash can close by so when it's complete, it can be recycled or trashed. 
    4. Schedule every couple of weeks in your calendar to clean your desk and your habit will stick eventually.
Now that  you have a system in place it is time to clean off your desk and do some of the tasks that are needed of you.
  1. Act: If it takes less than 5 minutes (I say 5 because it frequently can take longer), do it, get it over with and mark it off the list and put it where it needs to be.
  2. Delegate: If you can't do it, it was wrongly assigned, or needs someone else to help on the matter, give it to them so it be promptly worked on and kept moving.
  3. Defer: If it takes longer than 15 minutes, defer it to later when everything is cleaned up so you can properly work on it.  I would recommend everyone as separate into four piles that are:
    1.  Important/Urgent
    2. Not Important/Urgent
    3. Important/Not Urgent
    4. Not Important/Not Urgent 
 Some more tips to keep clean:
  • No need to print everything off from your computer.  If it's absolutely necessary perhaps investing into a kindle or a tablet to read and take notes would be better.
  • Forget about post-its. These little friendly critters get lost, never have the full story and frequently get put under a pile of other "important" post-its. If you have to use them, date them and try to include important information on them, like times, names, places... the basic who, what, when, where, and how.  But having a date of when you took them is absolutely necessary that way when you find them again, you'll realize how old it is and can likely be tossed.
  • Toss the pile of pens. How many pens do you need/use?  Two? Three? Four at most? Only keep those around.
  • Keep those books on those darn bookshelves!  Books can easily pile up and become a mess of resources which are never helpful once completely stacked upon each other.  Invest in a few bookmarks, mark the page and stack them in the shelf. When you come back to that book, if the bookmark doesn't bring back a clue, then remove it, that way you don't have 20 bookmarks in the book and defeating the purpose.
  • Keep the memorabilia at the conferences, don't collect the free junk.  Who needs that stuff anyway unless you really use them. Everyone collects free junk from conferences, but it's important that it will just clutter your desk and make a mess. When was the last time you used X from that conference you went to a few years ago?  Exactly.  Toss it.
  • Eat away from your desk. No one wants to hear you slurp your food or munching away. Also walking away gives you that break that you need, removes the clutter of napkins, cups, etc from laying around on the desk and also keeps your desk free of stains and crumbs.
  • Invest in a digital photo frame. No need to keep a dozen photo's on your desk of your loved ones. You only need one frame and have it rotate the pictures every few minutes, hour, day, etc. What ever you prefer.
Hopefully these tips will help you keep productive at work and organized.  What do you do to stay organized?  Do you use any of the tips mentioned?


  1. Very good post... I will clean up my desk soon!

  2. Thanks 83Pitti! Glad I could encourage you. :-) Feel free to comment on other posts you find interesting.

  3. I like the idea of putting dates on post-its, and to-do-lists for that matter!


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