The ABC Method of Keeping Your Workspace Clean


Is your desk clean, right now?

Would it be something you would want your boss (or team members) to see?

It is easier than you think to keep your area clean and tidy.

The simplest way to keep your workspace in order is to practice the ABC method of organization.

Creating a Cluttered Workspace

A cluttered workspace is not productive. And piles are not organization.

Yet, you are so busy, you never get around to cleaning up. Soon, your desk has turned into a large stack of miscellaneous stuff. Cleaning it up not only scares you, but could take several hours. (Or days???)

I challenge you to look at your desk right now.

What would it take to clean it up?

Keeping Your Desk Organized as Easy as ABC

Today, I want to share an organization strategy called the “ABC Method.”

Quite simply, ABC stands for Always Be Cleaning.

Keeping your desk clutter-free shouldn’t be an event that happens once in a blue moon. Rather, it must be an ongoing, constant activity that you do every day.

“Cleaning should be a habit, not a task.” (Tweet this Quote)

Here are some tips to Always Be Cleaning:

  • Put Things in Their Place – A key habit to keeping your space organized is to have a “designated home” for each item that needs to be put away. Not only will it be easier to put things away, but you will know right where they are when you need an item again.
  • Throw Things Out – Disposing of clutter needs to be a regular habit in your clean-up process. You simply cannot keep everything that comes your way. Most of the items you are keeping have no further use. Don’t be a packrat when it comes to papers, trinkets, and more. “When in doubt, throw it out.”
  • Don’t Leave a Mess for Later – It can be tempting to tell yourself that you will “put things away later or tomorrow.” Resist that excuse, and always clean up immediately after finishing a task or project. Otherwise, you are compounding the amount of cleaning you will have to do in the future.
  • Have a Chore List – A chores schedule can help keep you in regular clean-up mode. Designate routine maintenance tasks for specific days of the week. Maybe Monday is your clean off your desk day. Tuesday is your document scanning day. And so on.
  • Eat Those Elephants – Big clean up tasks are easily attacked a little bit at a time. Spend 15 minutes catching up on that big task and soon you will have whittled it down to a manageable task. Of course, after cleaning becomes a habit, you should have less “elephant” tasks.
  • Designate Clean ZonesClean Zones are areas that you pledge to always keep clean. Designate trouble spots as clean zones and never allow clutter to be placed in these areas. This tactic works well for desktops, file cabinets or any other horizontal surface where clutter tends to pile up.
  • Have Clean Up Time Every Day – Schedule 15 minutes of cleanup time each day. Perhaps, first thing when you come in. Or if you are really disciplined, before heading home. Put it right on your calendar so that you allocate time for it.

Always Be Cleaning

Don’t let your workspace build up clutter until cleaning it becomes an all-day endeavor.

It’s much easier and more productive to clean and organize as you go.

Always Be Cleaning and you will find that keeping your work area clean is much easier and productive than you thought.

Question: How do you keep your workspace clean? Are you always cleaning? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

8 thoughts on “The ABC Method of Keeping Your Workspace Clean

  1. Thanks for a great post, Craig.

    Having a clean desk is a MUST in order to maximize your own productivity.

    I really like the part where you mention the 15 minutes clean up time each day.

    Postponing the tasks you can do today, is a major time management sin. The problem doesn`t go away, it just stacks up. After a while the little clutter on your desk that started out as the size of a mouse, has grown into an elephant.

    The same goes for your to do list. A good tip is to spend 15 minutes each morning going through your to do list, and prioritizing them after the ABCDE method:

    A :Tasks I must do – serious consequences if it doesn`t get done
    B: Tasks I should do – mild consequences if it doesn`t get done
    C: Tasks I could do – no consequences if it doesn`t get done
    D: Tasks I delegate
    E: Tasks I never do

    Never do a B task before you have done all the A tasks, and you never do a C task before you have done all the B tasks, etc.

    Apply the 80/20 rule: you need to identify each day, which 20% of the tasks on your to do list will give you 80 % of the results.

    Even though you planned the to do list the night before, new events can have happened that will impact your to do list for the day.

    By having a clean desk and to do list each morning, you will have taken the first step towards working smarter, not harder – so you can achieve more by doing less.

    Tor Refsland

  2. Very practical article, Craig. I really got a lot out of it. When you mentioned putting things in their place it made me remember someone once saying, “Don’t put it down, put it away.” In regards to a clean up time everyday, my preference is right before I leave the office. This way, the first things you see when you walk into your office in the morning is a clean desk. I’m been doing it for 15 years, and it’s helped my personal productivity immensely. Thanks for the tips in your post!


  3. Great article Craig. I never really focused on a clean desk to improve my productivity until recently. It has made a drastic impact in my productivity. Besides helping you get things done, I have noticed that it also helps in keeping your mind focused and fresh.

Comments are closed.