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You’re just about to finish up work for the year when you become acutely aware of the frightening mess that is your workspace.
Your desk is hidden under mysteriously multiplying pens, a clutter of cables, and a few too many coffee cups.
You don’t even want to know what’s in your overstuffed pedestal drawers.
You realise your workspace isn’t inspiring you to work productively because it’s so untidy and not reflective of your personality.
Follow our handy tips and six steps to clean, organise and personalise your workspace before you take off on holidays.
Cleaning your desk before buying new filing, storage or stationery will help you work out what you actually need to create a functional space.
You want to make sure you buy the right storage solutions to improve your organisation levels; instead of being tempted to keep unnecessary papers or stationery.
You should also want to understand what stationery you have before you shop
There’s a fair chance it’s been a while since last gave your desk a good wipe down and dusting.
So remove everything from your desk, including your computer.
Wipe away food and drink stains, dirt and dust with a good surface cleaner and a damp cloth.
Consider giving your computer hardware casings and other furniture a once-over too.
While you’re at it, clear any drawers and give them a wipe out.
Then place your computer back onto your desk, but don’t replace your stationery and storage on your desk just yet (we’ll explain why in step four).
Keep your drawers empty too.
While you only have your computer and its accessories on your desk, take a minute to tidy your cables, which can easily make your desk look cluttered.
If your desk has a hole, or gap for your cables, place your computer close to the grommet and feed your cables through it.
Otherwise, gather all your cables at the back of your desk and connect them with twine, cable ties or even bulldog clips (but remember to allow a little slack in the cables for normal movement).
Paperwork is at the top of a lot of people’s deal-with-it-later lists.
But paper clutter quickly accumulates and can become so overwhelming that you continually avoid organising it.
So take this easy approach to sorting through it:
Action: Gather all the papers that contain important information for actions you need to take. Put them in a single spot. That might be a document tray or a desktop document box. Papers that require follow-up might include bills, unopened mail, or documents pertaining to ongoing and upcoming work (like a brief).
File: If you know you’ll need to reference a document in the near future, or you’re required by law to keep it (such as tax documents), file in in a filing cabinet or a clearly-labelled binder folder.
Shred and/or recycle: If you have scribbled notes or printed emails that contain unimportant details, they need to go. If you think they might contain sensitive information, shred them. Then place everything in your ‘don’t need’ pile in a recycle bin.
If you followed step one, your desk should be free from storage or stationery and your drawers still empty.
But now it’s time to work out which storage and stationery you do need.
Place the actionable paperwork on your desk, since you should have sorted that and decided on your storage solution already.
Then select your must-have stationery from your current collection: we recommend keeping one of each item type (you can keep one of each colour pen or highlighter).
Place each item in a logical place: pens in a cup on your desk; the occasionally-used stapler in your drawer.
Any leftover stationery can be offered to a colleague, taken to the office stationery cupboard, or (where possible) recycled.
Got a habit of just saving every file to your computer’s desktop?
You might need to implement a more organised system.
Create folders with names which relate to the way you work – perhaps each file is named by client, or maybe it makes sense to name them by task type, e.g. finance.
It might even work for you to sort your digital files in the same way you sort your paper files: action, file, delete.
Figure out a naming convention too: use keywords to save your files.
Include dates, client or project names, stages of the project, or version numbers of the document.
e.g. 15-01-30 Client X_Project Y_Stage 5_v3
From these details, you’ll be able to understand the file’s contents at a glance and decide where it should be stored among your new digital folders.
Once you’ve tackled these decluttering tasks, your desk should look clean and organised.
But you don’t want it to look clinical.
Add personal touches with photo frames or artwork, plants, scented candles and other decorative pieces.
They’ll make it all the more appealing to come back to your tidy, stylish workspace in the new year!