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By Bob Sadowski, APR, Public Relations & Social Media Manager, ACCO Brands

As asked by Albert Einstein, “If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk?” While all types of conclusions can be drawn here, the fact of the matter is a desk that is covered with loose files, paper, office supplies, cords and electronic gadgets will produce just one result: STRESS! Desks like the one pictured here do nothing but carve into your productivity and waste your time as you look for particular items.

All of this is at the core of National Clean Off Your Desk Day. Celebrated early in the New Year on the second Monday of January, the day offers a time for fresh starts, and your business and/or home offices are opportune places to make those fresh starts. While you may be dreading the dive into the piles of paperwork, periodicals and Post-it notes, there are a few simple steps you can take to achieve peace of mind and productive outcomes.

In order to declutter your workspace, we recommend that you follow the Five S’s of organizing: Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize and Sustain.

  • Sort: Go through materials on your desk and the rest of your workspace, eliminating anything that is unnecessary as you go. Maybe it’s a few tchotchkes from a recent trade show or a stack of printed PowerPoint slides that you already have on your laptop. Whatever the case, you should keep only what is essential to the work done in that space—everything else can be discarded or stored in another area.
  • Set: So much time is often wasted looking for items that are needed for your everyday job. Identify these items (e.g., quick reference cards, particular manuals, planners and notebooks) and arrange them for easy and quick access. Items of importance that simply aren’t used as often can be placed more “out of reach.”
  • Shine: A good spit-shine always brightens the workspace! While we recommend using something more practical (and sanitary), like Windex or Clorox Wipes, a clean and germ-free desk lends itself to heightened productivity, not to mention pride in your office. There’s no room for dust bunnies in the workplace.
  • Standardize: This is an opportunity to systemize your daily or repeating tasks. Every day at your work or home office presents a new set of challenges, but running parallel to these challenges are other important repeating activities (e.g., checking email, making your daily to-do list, checking statistics for your particular business activities). For these, create standard processes that can be easily followed for maximum use of your time.
  • Sustain: Perhaps the most difficult of the Five S’s, sustaining your clean desk and workspace as well as all the productive processes now in place, is critical to continued success. Be sure to create and follow daily processes and to-do lists to maintain your productive work environment. However, don’t be satisfied with sustaining what is working—always look for ways to further improve your organization and productivity.

The Five S’s is not a new concept. In fact, it’s commonly used in many different work environments, such as manufacturing and information technology. But, as you can see, it can be applied to nearly any process within any job function. For National Clean Off Your Desk Day, we challenge you to put the Five S’s to work for you—and let us know how it goes and what planning and organizing tools you use. The person with what we determine is the best “Clean Off Your Desk Day” achievement will win a 2013 AT-A-GLANCE prize pack to help them sustain the Five S’s throughout the year!

Please have your comments submitted before Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 12 Noon for consideration. Good luck and Happy Cleaning!

[photo by Abu]

12 thoughts on “Organize and Clean Your Workspace…You Could be a Winner!

  1. Organizing and keeping the work space free from clutter is one practice that all employees should apply in their daily routines. It is not such a tedious problem. Each must be able to come up with a routine that works for them.

  2. I have put things in folders many times but then the folders themselves never make it into the filing cabinet. Your article reinforces the need to do things right away or they will never get done. Here’s to a new way of doing things.

  3. These are some really GREAT plans and ideas— you’ve all made our job of selecting a winner very difficult! However, after reviewing all of the wonderful replies, we’ve selected Rhonda Pena as our winner. Congratulations, Rhonda—we’ll be in touch shortly concerning your prize.

    If you didn’t win this time, never fear—more contests and giveaways are coming. In the mean time, if you’re not already subscribed to the blog via email, do so now at the top-right of the page. That way, you’ll never miss another planning and productivity tip, trick or chance to win.

  4. I am working on keeping things in folders because things spilled off my desk onto the floor and everything has been such a mess that I can’t find anything anymore.

  5. One of my biggest challenges is checking email and responding to it and filing mail. I also tend to keep all my teaching ideas in a drawer in my desk and then can never find them. Based on your suggestions, I will try to only check email twice per day, and respond to them right away, and I want to take care of the mail and file it right away. As far as the teaching ideas, I can file them in different categories and then I’ll be able to find them next year when I need them.

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