By Kayla Bayens
A clean space to work is more important then you think. When you’re desk and work area is messy or cluttered it destroys your productiveness. You spend time looking for things instead of doing them. You miss meetings because you can’t find what you need and you miss deadlines because those tasks have been lost to a sea of stuff on your desk. When it comes to work you need a clean area to get things done. This truth hits small business owners the hardest as they are the most vulnerable. They often wear multiple hats and so their area piles up with the things that need to get done. Things fall through the cracks and it hurts your business’ bottom line.
But how else does a clean space make a happy space. Sure improved bottom lines and unmissed meetings are great but is that all a clean space is really good for? Actually no. Cleaner spaces do lead to higher productivity, better efficiency and great profits but it does more. Other then the obvious big three you’ve probably seen talked about a ton we decided to expand your knowledge of the benefits. Here is an outside benefit to a clean and happy space that you might not have thought about, healthier choices. Several scientific studies of work environments have found that people who keep a clean work area also tend to make healthier choices. This includes both foods, drinks, and exercise in the work place. Cluttered areas make you feel overwhelmed and stressed pushing you towards those not so healthy candy bars and soda to compensate. They make you feel like you have too much to do to take a break and stretch your legs out. Clean areas make large numbers of tasks seem more manageable and easier to handle which reduces that stress. Which allows you to instead indulge in healthier choices. So cleaning isn’t just good for the health of your work environment but for your health as well.
All these tid bits and facts are good and all but how does that help you to keep your space clean? Or to get it clean in the first place? Well it doesn’t but it does motivate you to tackle our slick and squeaky clean tips, tricks, and hints to help you get your area clean and organized.
Set an appointed time to clean and organize
Structure. Something that one needs when creating a routine. Pick a time each day to straighten your area. Personally I do so at the end of the day. I take the last 30 minutes of my work day to wrap up any tasks I am working on. Then I remove all files, papers, and stacks from my desk. This allows me to shift through the clutter that has accumulated through out the day and determine its proper place. Anything I feel is pressing and needs to be handled immediately upon my arrival tomorrow I sit next to my mouse. However I never let this be more then 3 items. You need the structure of doing this task repeatedly and with great frequency. The first time will be extremely tough as you probably haven’t ever tidied up your space, or if you have it has been a great deal of time since then. But doing it daily keeps the clutter at an absolutely minimum and makes sure you are the most productive worker you can be from the start to the end of your work day.
Your are does not simply consist of a desk and chair. You have drawers, cabinets, maybe even bookcase etc. Use them. Create areas in your work space where specific things go. An inbox for orders that sits to the left of your computer monitor and in line of sight. Past orders recorded in a binder that sit on a bookshelf behind you for reference when dealing with repeat clients. A container of pens close by, forms behind you and organized into labeled folders, records clearly marked in a file cabinet. Things have a place when you are organized. If something doesn’t have a place then find one for it. While you do not need to be OCD about it you do need to repeat the mantra “A place for everything and everything in its place”. You will know where things are without wasting time. You will know where to put things quickly and effectively. And if someone else is covering for you or if you aren’t in that day then you can easily tell someone where everything is. There is no time lost, no tasks missed, no time wasted.
Priority Close By, the Rest Put Away
As human beings we deal with tasks that our closest to us first. So if it is important or urgent then our space needs to organized in such a way that allows those tasks to be close at hand. Its why many offices employ in and out boxes, though the practice has since degraded in meaning. Prioritize your tasks daily and then organize your space for the new day to best prepare yourself. Do not clutter your area with less important tasks or things that are considered busy work. Put those things away in their proper place until the urgent business is taken care of. Then you may move less important tasks closer to you until they too are completed.
Don’t treat your work area like a storage space. Put away those bags, devices, folders, and other items that may be cluttering your space. You need to keep your area clear except for those things you are working on. Simply moving that bag from beside your desk to the large drawer instantly gives the appearance of a more organized space, and as a bonus nobody can trip over it. Add wall hooks to your area to hang up your jacket. You’ll be surprised how much of a difference having your floor and furniture clear of items makes you feel so much more relaxed and ready to work. Remember “a place for everything and everything in its place”.
In this day and age you have more then one desktop to worry about keeping organized. You have a whole digital one to make sure stays clean as well. I speak from experience when I say not having things properly organized into folders that make sense can have you wasting hours at work as you try to find the one document you need. Now if you haven’t been doing this all along its a rather daunting task. To help with it here everybody would organize folders on our shared drive during periods of lull, usually on a Monday or Friday. Its slow going this way but it will keep you from getting burned out on the task. Also make sure you only have important programs or documents (in folders) on your desktop. Everything else is still there and you can still get to it through your menu. But the rule of proximity applies to our digital environments as well.
Every couple of months or so move things off of desks, cabinets, bookshelves etc and give them a good wipe down with an appropriate cleaning product. You’ll be amazed at how quickly dust settles onto things. A clean environment looks nice but it also helps to keep you healthy. Healthy work space, a healthy you. It doesn’t even take very long and can be worked into port of your normal cleaning routine anyways. I do it on a Friday at the end of every other month. It has the added benefit of giving you a sense of absolution and completion to your work. Making you feel truly accomplished before you head out for your weekend.