Get Rid Of Personal Items
An easy way to start when you return to work is to assess what’s actually on your desk, and what might be able to live in your bag, be thrown away or taken home with you at the end of the working day. “To simplify, get rid of excess personal items, including things that need to return home,” say the organisational pros at Smead. “You should also pay close attention to the space under your desk too, as it’s often an easy hiding place for clutter.” If it’s beauty items that tend to live on your desk, or candles, books and endless pots of pens, move what you can into your desk drawers or place them in your bag so they’re always in reach. For now, accept that frivolous decorations and trinkets might have to live at home rather than at the office.
Organise Your Supplies
Now that you’ve determined what you really need, it’s important to keep those vital supplies as neat and tidy as possible so office cleaners can easily manoeuvre around them to keep things spick and span. “Organising your stationary, tools and supplies can help minimise stress,” say the team from Cleaner Care. “Have a stationary drawer or use a jar for your pens and pencils and make it a rule to put them back in their designated place at the end of each day. Also, have a drawer for your current projects, which is strictly for things you’re working on at the moment. That way, you can get to work straight away every morning, without looking around for your notes in a mixed-up pile of old clutter.”
Cut Back On Paper
In the modern age, there’s really no excuse for mounting piles of papers and notes, which will only collect dust and cause your surroundings to appear messy and disorganised. “If you can avoid printing and stick to digital versions of your documents where possible, this will reduce clutter on desks and prevent any potentially sensitive information from being left lying around too,” offer the experts at Swift Cleaning. Indeed, excess paper can be a sign of disorganisation. In his book Business @ the Speed of Thought Bill Gates said: “Paper consumption was only a symptom of a bigger problem… administrative processes that were too complicated and time-intensive”. According to Swift, not only will you achieve a tidier desk when you reduce your paper waste and printing of documents, you’ll probably become more efficient, too.
Schedule A Regular Cleaning Time
Some offices might require you to do this daily, but if you’ve largely been left to your own devices, the experts recommend scheduling two separate times to clean up: once after lunch (with many of us now required to eat at our desks) and again at the end of the day. “Eating at your desk may seem fine when you’re in a hectic rush to get a project completed,” say the Cleaner Care team. “But when you start finding crumbs gathering inside your computer keyboard and mouldy lunch containers you forgot to throw away building up, it makes sense to tackle this immediately.” And while we should all be making a point of having a quick tidy up at the end of every day, it’s also worth trying to schedule a regular slot each week where you have a more thorough sort through, and actually give your office desk a proper clean – that means a good wipe down and polish. “This will mean you won’t have to eventually spend hours tidying it, because it will stay consistently clean,” say the Cleaner Care team. “Hopefully, it’ll become such a positive habit that you’ll never want a messy, dirty desk again.”
Find Your Own Bin
If you don’t have your own personal bin by your desk, it could be worth enquiring with your manager whether it’s worth getting one to make disposing of things a more natural habit. “As soon as something you don't need comes across your desk, toss it,” says organisational expert Emerald Catron at Best Life. “The longer clutter piles up, the more you get used to it, and the more likely you are to let it stick around indefinitely. For better results, get a little recycling can as well so you can instantly discard documents you no longer need. Make good use of both of them to keep clutter to a minimum.”
Organise Your Electronics
Whether it’s physical devices – modems, routers, iPads, iPhones, tablets or dictaphones – or just a jungle of loose wires and cables, now might be the time to get to tidy them up. “Disorganisation isn't just what's in or on your desk: it's also what's underneath and behind your workspace,” agrees Emerald. “If there's a tangle of wires within eyesight, it's going to pose a distraction. To minimise the distraction these cables can pose, get some zip ties and collect your cables together in neat little bundles, then tuck them away so you don't have to look at them.” As for devices, Emerald suggests putting them in a drawer to create a more visually pleasing, less distracting workspace.
Segment Your Desk
If there are things you don’t intend to store at the office, but you still need daily access to, Emerald suggests creating organised segments on your desk, which are broken up by category or task. “You probably spend the majority of your day on the computer, but you should still have an area of your desk that is designated for non-computer work,” she says. “You can review papers, read and tackle your to-do list there, rather than mixing a bunch of miscellany with your computer area and creating undue chaos.”
Allocate Tasks For Shared Areas
As a manager or team leader, if you expect staff to take responsibility for maintaining office cleanliness, it’s worth delegating tasks to make it easier on everyone. “By clearly specifying who should do what you’ll ensure accountability and avoid the dreaded response of ‘It’s not my job!’” says Ann Brebner from Workplace Cleaning Solutions. “In turn, you have to be fair and realistic and also wary of cost. For example, it might be more cost effective to invest in a commercial cleaner as opposed to asking one of your team to clean communal areas.” As for your own desk, Ann says: “Get into the habit of tidying and ordering your desk before you go home. In addition to giving your morning productivity a boost, it can help ensure important documents and notes haven’t got buried under that pile of paperwork. Lastly, invest in organisational tools like single in-trays, and have a robust paper shredder readily available so unnecessary documents can be disposed of.”