Face it: your desk could use some help. There are stacks of papers everywhere, unfiled documents mingling with takeout menus. Your keyboard is so filled with crumbs that it crunches when you type.
And despite the fact that your coworkers gave you the iconic “A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind” plaque, cleaning your desk makes a good impression—and can help you feel more positive about your work.
First thing on your agenda for a cleaner workspace is scheduling some time to clean. It’s one thing to say you’re going to tidy your desk up, but in reality, there are only so many hours in a day and it’s too easy to fill your time with “more important” tasks. So put it in your calendar. Put it in your calendar for this week, and then every week or every other week for the rest of the year.
Then, follow through.
- Attack the stacks of paper, filing what is necessary and recycling the rest.
- Clean and organize your drawers. Toss out what you don’t need (nests of condiment packs, etc.). If you’re hoarding piles of Post-it notes or other office supplies, return most of them to the common area. Keep only those supplies you’ll need in the immediate future.
- Wipe down surfaces. Taking an antibacterial wipe to the top of your desk, your drawer handles, and your phone handset on a weekly basis can kill cold and flu germs and help you stay healthy.
- Clean your computer. Borrow a can of compressed air from the IT department and use it to blow the crumbs out of your keyboard. While you’re in their department, get their advice on how best to clean the screen and wipe down the keys on your keyboard.
- Take stock. Are there any tools or systems that can help you keep cubicle clutter at bay? An inbox/outbox combination? A bulletin board? See if the person who procures office supplies can order those for you.
- Once your space is neat and clean, consider ways to keep it that way. One of the best ways to stop desk-related dirt before it starts is to resolve to eat lunch away from your keyboard.
Spend 20 minutes a week cleaning your cubicle or office for a few weeks in a row, and you may be surprised at how quickly it becomes a habit, and how the potential benefits—improved self-confidence and increased positivity—can reverberate throughout your workday.
Miriam Wolf is a Portland–based wellness professional.