If you’ve ever had a tough work week, you may notice your desk becoming a bit unorganized as papers start stacking up on top of each other and other various notes and pens lying all over the place. Or even if you have a relatively slow work week, you may see a similar evolution of your desk space, not due to a lack of time, but a lack of motivation to clean your desk up. In either case though, we are here to tell you that having a messy desk is something that should be avoided at all costs. We’ll explain exactly why that is the case, along with tips on how to effectively and efficiently manage your desk space for optimal cleanliness.
The main reason that a cluttered desk is undesirable is simply because it lowers your overall productivity. You see, when everything on your desk is unorganized, you subconsciously aren’t as sharp as you would be if your desk was perfectly organized and clean. This in part has to do with your desk’s messy state causing you to get distracted. Imagine typing an email and in your peripheral view you see all sorts of junk lying around your desk. Your natural response is to glance at it, even just for a split second. But as soon as you do that, you lose focus and it really sets you back. And when you are basically constantly sitting at a messy desk, these sorts of distractions add up throughout the day and really limit how productive you can truly be.
In addition, a cluttered desk simply gives off the impression to your peers that you are uninterested in your work life. If you were to have a clean and organized desk, it immediately puts you in a good light and makes you look like a go-getter who is ready to attack the day and work extremely hard. However, the opposite also makes you look lazy and is if you don’t want to be at work, even though you very well could be the most motivated and hardworking person ever. And even though it is just a perception, it can affect your work life in subtle ways. From a social standpoint, you may be less liked by your peers simply because of the way your desk looks compared to theirs. And it can even affect you financially if said perception of you affects how your boss determines your bonuses at the end of the year, or even when (if ever) you get a promotion.
No matter how you look at it, having a messy desk provides no inherent benefits, but on the flipside can seriously affect your work, both directly and indirectly. However, many people have difficulty maintaining a clean desk in the long run, even those who completely understand the importance of having a clean desk in the first place. For those people, the reason that their desks inevitably start getting messy again at some point, is simply because they feel like they don’t have the time to clean their desk with all of their other work-related tasks going on. They feel that even just taking five minutes out of the day to clean their desk can set them back significantly when it comes to work.
But that is simply not true. The fact of the matter is that no matter how disciplined you are while at work, you will always get distracted from time to time. Whether you get a text from someone and need to respond immediately, or you are curious about the latest news or sports results, it is impossible to get through the entire day without wasting a few minutes here or there doing something not related to work. And if that is the case, then it isn’t a stretch to simply allot a small amount of time in the day to clean your desk area up, even just a little bit at a time. It doesn’t have to be long, and you don’t even necessarily have to get your entire desk area cleaned completely all in one go. As long as you are slowly making progress each day, and actually commit to a minute or two each day to either throw unnecessary papers away, or put pens and pencils back where they belong, you’ll eventually see a totally clean desk. And at that point you can easily keep your desk perfectly clean assuming you are still setting aside time each day to make sure everything is in order.
In fact, if you really want to make sure that your desk area is properly maintained (which we obviously recommend), you can potentially add a recurring “meeting” in your calendar to remind you at the same time each day to spend those few minutes cleaning your desk. Again, it only takes a few minutes a day to make a big difference, so no matter how busy you are in the day, a few minutes won’t kill you, especially considering that you already were going to spend a few minutes being distracted by something else in the first place. And as ridiculous as it may sound to be scheduling daily meetings to remind yourself to clean up your desk area, if it helps you consistently get around to doing it, then the practice is definitely more than warranted, especially if you know that you will not consistently clean your desk without the recurring meetings as daily reminders.
Although having a messy desk may seem insignificant on the surface, hopefully after reading this article you realize how much having a desk that isn’t organized can really affect your work life. And although the solution to such a scenario is fairly simple in practice, it admittedly still takes some motivation and dedication to keep your desk neat and tidy for the long haul, which is precisely where a lot of people struggle in the first place. But if you find yourself in a struggle for consistently maintaining the cleanliness of your desk, just keep in mind that only a few minutes a day is all it takes to (eventually) get your desk looking better than ever.