An interior designer would be ashamed to see the current condition of my desk. There are three piles of paperwork, a stack of promotional posters, four energy drink cans, a bag of potato chips, and one coffee mug all surrounding my computer. To me, this is normal. This is also a great way to bring a hidden danger into the work day that can rob anyone like me of their productivity.
Making Piles Means You’re Not Setting Limits
I don’t usually think of myself as a workaholic, but the fact that I’m working most weekend days for at least a few hours betrays my own perspective. I make piles of work that need to be done because it makes me feel organized, but that’s not the issue. The real problem is that piles of work mean that there isn’t as much discipline in setting limits as there needs to be.
It also means that there are days where I’m treating my desk as a storage space. Clutter has a method of multiplying as soon as you allow it to come into your life, which means even more dangers to productivity. What would happen if there was still some coffee in that mug that’s sitting right in front of my computer screen this instant and it spilled? There goes my productivity!
Here’s the harsh reality and it’s one that I’m still learning: the best working surface is clean, flat, and organized. It’s fine to have some comfort items, but the visual clutter just needs to disappear.
Let’s Make the Clutter Disappear To the Floor!
Has your desk ever become so cluttered that you started using the floor as extra storage space? I’ve been there so many times and it isn’t always work items that hit the floor, is it? The gym bag, the backpack, the laptop bag all tend to have a specific spot on the floor that is assigned to them! It seems like a good idea at first, but the floor is just an extension of the working space. If you’re creating space on your desk by taking up your floor space, then there’s still an issue going on.
Clutter isn’t always the extra energy drink cans or the pile of coffee mugs from the last week on your desk. Your digital clutter, or your emails and other messages, can take up even more of your time. How long did it take you to find that one specific email you needed, even with the search boxes on your preferred email program? It took me 15 minutes to find an email the other day!
It’s more than just being organized. It’s also about giving a proper first impression! You will be judged within the first 30 seconds of someone seeing your office. If it’s clean, tidy, and organized, people will think of you as a true leader. A visionary, perhaps, or someone who knows what they want out of life. Have the clutter and people will see you as reckless, without vision, and ultimately not the right person to meet their needs.
You don’t have to clean your desk every day. You do have to schedule time in your day to clean up your working area, however, because otherwise the clutter will expand. When this happens, you may just find your productivity deflating in return.