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Spring Forward To A Cleaner, Better Workspace!

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It's been said that a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind. As a manager, that is the last image you want to project, no matter how busy you are. When it comes to the workplace, empty coffee mugs, old publications and messy piles of paper don’t just create an unfavorable impression on your staff, co-workers, superiors and clients – they can stifle your creativity and productivity. And yes, a less-than-immaculate work environment can even make you sick. So while any day is a great day to resolve to tidy up, there’s no better time than now to actually spring into action. If the thought of wading through workspace chaos seems overwhelming, worry not. The simple tips below will make the task painless – and liberating!

Schedule Tidy-up Time

One of the reasons why so many of us are surrounded by clutter is that don’t have time to tidy up after a busy workday. To get started on your clean-up mission, block out some time to get truly down and dirty. If possible, put aside a few hours. If you can’t take this time from your work hours, resolve to get to work early or stay late.

Toss Out the Trash!

So now you have the time – what next? Start by going through the stacks of paper – file away what you wish to keep and discard what’s obsolete, taking care to shred documents containing sensitive information. If you have a lot of old newspapers and industry publications, banish them to the recycle bin.  Next, look for other items to put into the wastebasket – it’s time to give that poinsettia plant and other dead flora a decent burial. Same goes for holiday cards and tradeshow knickknacks that you never really wanted to keep in the first place.

Dust and Disinfect!

Once you’ve gotten rid of the rubbish, it’s time to get really and truly clean. Many people are surprised at how much dust they harbor in their offices and cubicles. Start your dust demolition with some ‘canned air’, an aerosol spray made especially for blasting out dust, crumbs and other interesting tidbits from electronics like keyboards. It’s also great for tiny no-man’s-land spaces like gaps between desk panels, under and around your computer, and other dusty nooks and crannies. Next, it’s time to pick up all the little dust balls you have unearthed, along with those sitting in plain sight.

Depending on how much dust there is, you can either use a vacuum cleaner or wipe them off by hand. Don’t just use a feather duster – it just makes the dust drift off to another spot. Instead, pick them up for good with a damp cloth or disposable cleaning wipes. Go through every inch of your workspace – your keyboard, your mouse, the back of the monitor, your desk, and so on. If you have disinfectant or sanitizing wipes, go to town and give your phone, drawer handles and everything else you touch a swipe. If you think that’s too much trouble, this factoid might just change your mind: Scientists have found that desktops typically contain more bacteria than a toilet seat. You might want to stash some extra wipes in your drawer.

Organize and Personalize!

At this point, your workspace should be clean. Congratulations on conquering the clutter! Now all you have to do is maintain your office’s pristine condition and prevent mess from encroaching upon your area. Begin by streamlining your desk – which items do you really and truly need? Leave only bare necessities in your desktop and put away things that you only use once a week or less. It’s important to mention at this point that putting away your computer is bad form. If your office provides regulation file folders and other stationery like pen, paper clip and rubber band holders, make sure you have some. If not, either purchase or request the items ASAP. You can even splurge and buy nicer versions of these items – maybe having desk accessories more suited to your tastes will serve as stronger motivation. It has worked for many people.

Next is to nest – not an all-out moving in of all that’s dear and precious to you, but just a few items to make your workspace more homey. Since we spend about 40 hours at our workplace each week, the least we can do is make it more comfortable and personalized. Bring in pictures of family or loved ones, or even photos from recent vacations to serve as inspiration. You may even want to bring in a live plant. While flowers are nice, make sure that none of your neighbors are prone to hives or other allergic reactions to pollen or flowery smells. Some people find fluorescent lighting depressing – a quick fix would be to have a lampshade.

Once you have everything in place, your next step is to enjoy your wonderful, reclaimed space – and commit a few minutes each day to tidying up.

A clean workplace can do wonders for your work image, and more importantly, for yourself. They say cleanliness is next to godliness, but the truth is, cleanliness begets efficiency, creativity and productivity.

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