Clean It Up! How to Develop a Plan for Keeping Your Workspace Neat
By Margot Carmichael Lester, Staples® Contributing Writer
Unless youre one of those people who needs chaos and disorder to feel alive, you know the reasons why you should keep your work area clean and organized. Thankfully...
So, yeah. You know why you should keep it clean at work. But its not that easy, right?
Why Cleaning Your Work Area Is Hard
There are two reasons why its a challenge to keep our work areas neat, according to Lynchburg, VAbased organizer Marcia Bennett, owner of Live to Manage, LLC. The first is a result of all of the distractions we face on a daily basis, she explains. They cause us to lose focus and accumulate more clutter. The second is because we dont allocate time each day to making sure it stays neat.
Yes, its that simple. Just like the other important tasks you need to complete each day (exercise, anyone?), youve got to schedule time to straighten up.
The best way to maintain a clean desk is to make cleaning it a habit. Turn it into a ritual. Set an appointment on your calendar, advises Brittany Berger, digital content supervisor for eZanga
in Middletown, DE. The last thing I do before leaving the office for the weekend is organize the things on my desk and the files on my computer's desktop. There's a calendar appointment that reminds me every Friday at 5 pm, so I won't forget.
How to Build a Cleaning Plan
Designing a plan makes it easier to actually accomplish something besides just pushing stuff into the recycling bin or wiping crumbs onto the floor for the custodial staff to clean later. When you have a documented plan for doing something, it eliminates the guesswork involved in completing the task, Bennett explains.
Taylor Jay, officer manager at Canyon Resort at Great Hills Apartments in Austin, TX, recommends a checklist so you dont miss anything. Each employee has one, so everyones on the same page. The result is a neat and tidy office environment. A clean workspace carries over to everything you do, he says. Our philosophy is that if our workspace is messy, our work will be messy also.
Here are some tasks to include on your cleaning plan:
PRO TIP: If you cant complete this list daily, break it down and tackle a subset each day. If your backs to the wall, at least straighten up the papers on your desk and use wipes on as much of the work surface as possible along with your phone and keyboard.
PRO TIP: Friday afternoon is a great time to complete any cleaning tasks you missed during the week.
Help for Office Managers
Even though we should all be responsible for keeping our own work areas clean, it often falls to office managers to oversee and enforce neatness and organization.
Its not hard to stay with a plan if the commitment is there, says Andrea Brundage, owner of Simple Organized Solutions in Mesa, AZ. Like anything, it must be a priority for each individual and there must be buy-in.
One way to create urgency is to remind staff without nagging to keep it clean. Send out tips/reminders on how to keep a neat workspace, Bennett suggests. Create a challenge in the office to motivate employees to be more receptive to being neat. Bring in a professional office organizer to give employees ideas on how to optimize their workspaces.
Or integrate cleaning tasks into the standard workflow. Thats what Orun Bhuiyan did at SEOcial, the company he co-founded, which has offices in New York and Toronto. Cleanliness and organization is such a challenge because it isn't directly related to business operations. It's not a category of tasks people prioritize in their minds, he says.
To help the team prioritize, Bhuiyan created a division in the companys project management system to address neatness and organization with recurring but non-disruptive reminders for team members.
It's not 100 percent automated, but reliance on a system has made it easier to talk about these sorts of organizational challenges, he says. It's given everyone a sense of responsibility over organization and cleanliness, whereas before it was only something a select few would notice.
The Last Word on Making Cleanliness Happen
Now that you know why and how to develop a cleaning regimen for your personal space or entire office, heres one final thought on the subject from American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC): A clean desk and work environment leads to a more productive, happy and focused employee, asserts Ashley White, HR director for the Houston, TXbased nonprofit. Im a big believer that if there is clutter in ones physical space, it interferes with the mental space and corresponding work product.