The NASA Clean Air Study found some indoor plants remove the toxic chemicals found in our offices. My favourite is the spider plant with all its spikey throngs, but some people might prefer the more elegant peace lily – it comes down to individual taste.
This Monday, the second Monday in January, is ‘National Clean off your Desk Day’ which might make you smile or feel guilty or both! But its very existence got me thinking … how necessary is it to have a pristine desk? Does it really make you more productive? Is it an indication of your effectiveness or your working style? It is too easy to say that a clear desk is good and a messy desk is bad and there are a rising number of scientific reports which argue tidy desks can be detrimental to some people’s productivity.
Consider some examples of some of the world’s movers and shakers – there is no pattern to indicate that a messy desk proved a hindrance no more than a tidy desk was a sure-fire route to success. The state of an individual’s desk reflected their style of working and ranged from the clean, minimalist look sported by Craiglist founder, Craig Newmark to the infamously messy one of Albert Einstein. Then we have non-conformists like Richard Branson who don’t really do desks at all!
I feel that your desk is not just about productivity or efficiency. It is where you should be able to be your most brilliant, most inspired, surrounded not just by the tools of your trade but the things that make it special to you. It is a place where you should shine. So if, when you look at your desk, you are not feeling the love then give your start to 2017 a great big boost and take action.
‘But where do I start?’ I hear you cry. Well here are my top 5 tips to get your declutter going:
- Gather some supplies: 3 boxes marked recycling, shredding and things that don’t belong here, a box of plastic folders which open at the top and side and a box of sticky notes.
- Put anything that doesn’t belong in your office in the ‘things that don’t belong here’ box and put it by the door ready to redistribute.
- Put away any stationery.
- Do a ‘speed sort’ on all the papers – you can use the following sorting groups as a starting point: action; waiting on someone else; projects; filing – financial, client, household, personal, family, recycle, shred. Use the two sided plastic folders to group related things together and the sticky notes to create some temporary labels. WORK QUICKLY and do not get distracted by the content. By the end your papers will be grouped by priority with the action pile ready for you to get started and your filing ready to be done in manageable chunks later on.
- Clear away any old coffee cups, plates and wipe down your phone, screen, keyboard, mouse and desk to kill those winter germs (make sure you follow the guidelines for which cleaning agents to use). It is said that the average desk harbours 400 times more bacteria than the average loo seat!
Your desk is now ready for you to customise and make your own … and don’t forget to choose your NASA approved plant to help keep your office healthy.