They say that a tidy desk is linked to a tidy mind, and there is much evidence to suggest that orderly surroundings at work leads to increased productivity. Yet, tackling a desk full of stuff and an office in desperate need of a scrub can feel impossible, especially when you have to fit in the spring cleaning around your daily tasks and projects.
Declutter, declutter, declutter
A proper spring clean should ideally start with a comprehensive declutter. Before you can begin to clean up your workplace possessions or plan an office refurbishment, you need to decide what you want to keep and what needs to be thrown away.
Working methodically can help the process of clearing out a cluttered office that bit easier to manage. Start in one area, such as your desk, shelves or filing cabinet, and allocate a time period of around 20-30 minutes to get as much done as possible. Do little and often to make sure you don’t get distracted from your day job, and to avoid too many large piles of clutter in the process of being sorted. You will get satisfaction, too, from seeing the smaller areas start to look ordered and neat.
Handle things once
Pick up each item in turn and decide straight away what you want to do with it: keep, pass on or chuck in the recycling bin. Don’t spend too long thinking about it. Trust your instincts and sort as you go. If you are unsure about anything, run it by a colleague to get their thoughts. Chances are, they will agree with your decision to let it go, or will have a better idea of where something can be stored.
Don’t get bogged down in reading old paperwork. Decide if it’s still relevant and if so, file it. If not, or if you have got back-ups stored on your PC, recycle it. Never put things down somewhere else with the intention of ‘sorting it out later’, as you will inevitably move on to another area or task and forget about it.
Control the in-tray
Once you have a streamlined desk and a calm, decluttered office, aim to keep it that way by refusing to accept every little thing back in without question. From paperwork that needn’t have been printed to too much stationery crowding out your desk drawers. Not to mention extra chairs that were never returned to their proper place and defunct IT equipment that no-one has arranged to have removed. Get it out of your office and reclaim your space.
Think carefully about the purpose of each and every object in the office. If you’ve got an office design project in the pipeline, take advantage of it and have a good sort out, but try not to buy anything new for it that isn’t absolutely necessary.