10 Reasons Your Desk is a Mess

10 Reasons Your Desk is a Mess

Reality check… What is the status of your desk, right now?

Is it clean and ready for work? Or is it cluttered with weeks of unfinished projects, papers, and stuff?

You are probably thinking, “It shouldn’t be so hard to keep my desk clean.”

A Messy Desk Isn’t a Productive One

It seems that stuff magically appears on your desk.

After all, that is only possible explanation as to why you can’t keep your desk clean. Items seem to accumulate faster than you can deal with them, and soon you are swimming in a sea of clutter.

Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Keeping your desk clean can be a productive habit. It just requires a little consistent effort.

“Keeping your desk clean should be a habit, not a chore or burden.”

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Whether it is papers, gadgets, folders, or whatever… you need to keep your desk clean. If you don’t, not only will it be difficult to get your work done, but you’ll have a much bigger mess to deal with later.

Here are 10 Reasons That Your Desk is a Mess:

  1. You Don’t Put Things Away – First of all, your desk is a mess because you don’t put things away. It doesn’t get any simpler than “you leave stuff out when you are done.” Don’t allow yourself to move on to another task until you have put things away from the previous one. If you do, you’ll find yourself working on top of your stuff instead of your desk.
  2. There is No Storage Space – It is difficult to put things away when there is no place to put them. Make sure your workspace is conducive to containing your items. Are there enough files, drawers, and containers?
  3. Your Desk Isn’t Big Enough – OK, this one can be dangerous. Getting a bigger desk isn’t the answer if you are simply going to fill it with even more stuff. However, often I see companies providing desks the “size of postage stamps” and then wondering why their employees are not productive. You have to have a minimum size workspace in order to be able to spread your work out.
  4. Duplicate Items – Do you need 3 staplers? Or 4 Post-It pads? Probably not. Nor 42 pens and pencils cluttering up the drawer where you are supposed to put things away. Eliminate duplicate items that serve the same function. You only need one of each tool.
  5. You Don’t Have a Physical Inbox – Many people take this one for granted in the age of email, Slack, and IMs. However, you still have to deal with paper, bills, and physical documents. Make sure you have a physical inbox to triage these items when the arrive. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to find that “one piece of paper” that arrived last week.
  6. You Pile Instead of Put Away – Piling is not productive. Despite arguments to the contrary, piles are not a filing system. And don’t try to say, “I know where everything is.” A cluttered desk is a non-productive desk.
  7. Non-Productive Stuff – A desk is for getting work done. It is not a display area or a mini-museum for toys, tchotchkes, or whatever. Keep those things elsewhere, and keep only items that help you get work done on your desk.
  8. You are a “Business Hoarder” – Are you the equivalent of a “business hoarder?” Do you try to keep every memo, note, and business card that comes your way? You will soon find yourself drowning in worthless paper and useless documents. (See #9)
  9. You Don’t Throw Things AwayWhen in doubt, throw it out. 99% of things you think you will need again… you won’t. The bottom line is that you cannot keep everything. The more you dispose of the less you will need to deal with later.
  10. You Don’t Make it a Habit – A clean desk should be your norm, not your once-in-a-blue-moon. It shouldn’t be the one time per year that you organize it. Instead, make it a daily habit. Clean it up for 5 minutes when you start your day and 5 minutes when you finish your day.

Clean Desk, Clear Mind

As the saying goes, “A cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind.”

Your desk doesn’t have to be a mess. In fact, it is counterproductive.

Spend a few minutes cleaning up your desk, each and every day.

Keep your desk clean, and your mind clear.

Question: Is your desk a mess right now? How often do you clean it up? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

4 thoughts on “10 Reasons Your Desk is a Mess

  1. Desk…

    We deal with our desk everyday and spent 8 or more hours on it and we hardly think whether keeping it clean help in any way.

    All the points are correct and I make sure everything is sorted for me to work rather than waste mini-time here and there and thus toss a huge time at the end of day.

    I happen to be lucky as in my office we get weekly newsletters on how to be more productive and a cleaner desk has been already addressed.

    For others, this would help a lot. Let’s make sure our desk is clean and tidy so our focus stays laser-like.

    Take care buddy. 🙂

  2. My desk was a mess but I have followed the advice and it is now clean and tidy. Thank you.I’ll try to make it last …

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