Skip to main content

No matter what clutter bug friend has to say, a tidy workspace leads to better productivity. Sure, we’ve all heard about the studies that say messy people are more intelligent. But the truth is, unless someone is coming in after us to clean and organize all the time, that mess will just keep staring back at us. Whether we realize it or not, crumbs, leftovers, crumpled old receipts, and piles of to-dos just cause us anxiety and a downward-spiraling sense of self-image.

Why does it matter? Well, when our brains are preoccupied by supplies waiting to be tidied, messes needing to be cleaned, and papers longing to be organized, they’re not free to process important information or solve problems. Plus, when we spend less time looking high and low for that memo that was there just a second ago, we can spend more time doing actual work and clocking out on time. Now, that’s just good for time management—for us and our bosses, right?

So, how do we get there from here? We have to start by cleaning off our desks and today is the perfect day to do it—the second Monday in January is always celebrated as “Clean Off Your Desk Day!”

Your Home Workspace

Working from home unexpectedly off and on since 2019 has made it darn near impossible for even the most organized to keep a clean workspace. A big part of that problem is that we never set up effective workspaces at home. Now that many of us expect to work from home permanently, it’s time to get organized and set up an effective workspace.

The first order of business, though, is to clean off your desk!

  • Move everything off your work surface and wipe it down.

  • Set up a box or basket for “to-do” items that need your attention.

  • Set up a box or basket for “completed” items that need to be filed away.

  • Set places for your writing utensils, office supplies, power cables and charging cords.

  • As you place things back onto your desk, sort them into their proper places.

  • Leftovers that don’t belong on your desk need to go back to their proper homes immediately!

If your desk is aka the coffee table, dining table, or other flat surface, it’s time to treat yourself to a workspace that you (and only you­) use for work (and only work). You don’t need to invest in a heavy executive-style piece. There are any small, student-sized, or low-profile desk and chair sets available at affordable payments. Some feature several drawers for supplies or shelves where you can stash your boxes or baskets.

If it’s just not possible to promote yourself to a desk from the coffee table, look for an unexpected solution. Most of us don’t rely on paper documents anymore and a storage bench may provide plenty of room to stash your stuff while you’re off the clock.