The state of your workspace has a big impact on the way you do your job. You’ll save a lot of time and energy if your things are tidy and easy to access. Investing in the process now will save you time later.
“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” – Benjamin Franklin
Plus, whether you like it or not, many of the people you work with will form opinions about you based on how you keep your office. According to a survey by the staffing firm Adecco, 57 percent of Americans admit to judging their coworkers based on how clean or dirty they keep their workspace.
Spring cleaning your office can feel like a real chore. But, it’s motivating to understand how giving this process a little time and energy can benefit you in your professional life. Here are a few things to keep in mind about the rewards of office spring cleaning:
- Productivity – An organized office will help you be more efficient and productive, for obvious reasons. If you know where everything is, you won’t have to waste any time fumbling around. But, there’s more to it that that. A clean space is inspiring and that helps you to be at your best. If you want to be able to accomplish more in less time, this process is for you.
- Mood – When you love your office, it helps you love your job. Having a clean and well-organized office can be a real mood booster. Sure, the process takes a little time and effort, but the rewards are well worth it in the end.
- Impressions – Keeping a clean office sends the right message to the people you work with and for. It helps to demonstrate your trustworthiness and capability. On the other hand, a messy office sends the wrong signals. It could make you seem less conscientious than you would otherwise. And, these impressions can be difficult to shake.
Spring cleaning doesn’t have to take a lot of time either. Even small changes can make big differences. So, no matter how much of a project you’re ready to take on, here are some tips for tidying your workspace:
1. Get inspired
You might not ever feel really fired up about cleaning your office. But, having some enthusiasm for the task will go a long way to help you succeed. So, before you do anything else, find some inspiration.
Picture how you want your office to look once you’re done and think about how that will make you feel. It will help you get excited for the work.
You also might want to consider some kind of reward that you can enjoy once the task of spring cleaning your office is behind you. Maybe you’ll buy some new art to put on the wall or on your desk, or you’ll invest in a new work bag. Pairing the chore of cleaning with an exciting reward can help inspire and motivate you.
2. Do a little at a time
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by everything you want to accomplish, especially before getting started. So, be sure to guard against that by reminding yourself that it’s perfectly all right to do a little at a time.
Some people might elect to take an afternoon to do the entire job. But, if your schedule doesn’t allow for that, don’t worry. You can accomplish just as much by spending just a few minutes here and there when you find the time.
The trick is to decide on an approach in advance, no matter what kind of a schedule works best for you. Then, be sure to stick to the plan. Make an appointment to clean your office — and write it in pen, not pencil. (Metaphorically is fine.) Make it a real priority. That’s the best way to ensure you’ll accomplish the task.
Just make sure to set an agenda for the work that you can meet. Being too ambitious about how much time you can afford to devote to the project could delay progress down the road. Set the bar low enough to reach.
3. Focus on where you’re going, not where you’ve been
Think about your future. What kind of office do you want future-you to work in? Be sure to build a workspace with that best version of yourself and your workspace in mind. You aren’t cleaning your office for your past — you’re doing it for the year ahead.
So, ask yourself, what kind of a year do you want to have? If you are planning to take a class, set up a space to do that work. If you’re hoping to take on more clients, leave space in the filing cabinet. Having a clear vision for the future of your office is essential.
4. Have a process
Cleaning and organizing is a process. And, that process starts by taking everything out of the area you’re working on.
Adjust the focus area for your needs. If you’re cleaning in 20-minute sprints, take it a drawer at a time. If you’re spending the afternoon, you can attack larger areas, like your entire desk, all at once.
No matter how big or small your focus, the first step is to take a look at all of your items. Remove them from the space you’re working on so you can clean the area itself. (Don’t skip this step. Take the drawers out of your desk, for example. Trust us: the drawers are dirty and need to be cleaned. You’ll see.) Then, evaluate the items themselves to determine what stays and what goes. Clean anything you’re keeping or donating. Finally, put away the items you’re holding on to.
Make sure that you have quick access to the things that you use most. And, group things into categories to help you stay organized in the future. Having a small area designated for papers or other things that need to be put away can be helpful, too. That way you can be sure that you’ll stay organized, even when you’re in a rush and things get extra busy at work.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past. – Marie Kondo” quote=”“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past. – Marie Kondo”]
5. Divide and conquer
At Forbes, Peter Walsh, an organization expert, advises professionals to set up zones for various functions and purposes.
Perhaps you need a computer space, a storage area, a meeting space and a library to do reading and research. Thinking about your office in terms of zone will help you be efficient and it will encourage you to keep up with the organizational systems you’ve established, too.
Similarly, if you still have physical paperwork, think about using folders (either loose folders or the kind that you file) to organize projects, jobs, clients, or any other information. Label the folder for quick reference later. These folders can be easily stacked and stored. And, you can throw them in your bag if you need to take work out of the office.
Organizing your space and your work into categories is an essential part of the process. But, be sure to leave some space for the unexpected. Leaving a half a shelf empty and buying a few extra folders gives you room to grow.
6. Please your senses
Spring cleaning your office shouldn’t just be about removing dirt and dust and organizing files. You’ll want to add some joy and pleasantness to your space while you’re at it, too. Why not?
Consider adding some color to your office, especially if you’re in a typical bland corporate environment. Hang colorful posters or bring in flowers to arrange on your desk. Just be mindful of allergies. Some people are allergic to pollen and/or strong scents, and you don’t want to make work-life harder on your coworkers or clients.
Consider adding some softer lighting. Or, treat yourself to a beautiful new piece of art to place on the walls or on top of your desk. Little touches like these can make a big difference.
7. Update the items that make you happy
Take a look at the decorations, trinkets, toys and pictures that you have placed around your office. Do they need updating? Would a more current photograph of your family make you smile perhaps? Or, maybe that old knickknack or desk toy doesn’t seem as adorable as it once did. Let go of the old to make way for the new.
Add a few personal items to your office space that make you feel happy and relaxed. This final step is non-essential, on the surface. But, attending to these details will help you to enjoy yourself and your workday a little more. And that has real value.
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