Laurence J. Peter asked this question a long time ago, “If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk?”
You may think you don’t have the time to clear your workspace. There is a deadline to meet. Your supervisor is expecting the report. Oh! There is this client you have to meet by 2 pm. Your desk is littered with documents from the last research, business cards from the last networking events and papers containing vital information of your clients. You are amazing; you have been doing well in spite of the mess on your desk. However, it is important to know that how you arrange your desk and workplace sends a sublime message to your prospective clients, boss and even your fellow colleagues about your professionalism.
“In the scope of a happy life, a messy desk or an overstuffed coat closet is a trivial thing, yet I find – and I hear from other people that they agree – that getting rid of clutter gives a disproportionate boost to happiness.” –Gretchen Rubin
We all know how we judge others based on their physical appearances, the way they move their bodies and how they talk? Yet, we would not pay attention to how others perceive us.
We are in an era where a perception of competence and confidence is a huge currency. We live in a fast-paced world. Volumes of new information are breaking out in megabytes every second. People do not have the time to go through your resume at first sight. They want to look at your well-ironed suit, your desk, how you handle files and give you the job.
Organizing your workplace does not have to be a big-time work. It does not have to take days. When organizing the workplace is seen as an ongoing project, instead of a massive assault, it becomes effective.
It is going to be a massive error on the part of a work-at-home mom to think that tidiness and cleanliness are for full-time employees who have 9-to-5 jobs at massive corporations. For the home-based entrepreneur, the home office can be seen during a video conference. All materials that are not related to the work at hand should be removed from view.
I’m quite an untidy person in a lot of ways. But order makes me happy. I have to have a clear desk and a tidy desktop, with as few visual distractions as possible. I don’t mind sound distractions, but visual ones freak me out.– Joanne Harris
The degree of tolerance for distraction is different for everyone. Nevertheless, it has been proven across ages that zero mess equals maximum productivity.
Many people are aware of this and they look online for solutions to getting tidy. Others seek answers from their families and friends because they are getting to understand the importance of being neat and tidy to their career.
Are leaders born or made? This is a question that has been a form of serious debate since the industrial revolution of the twentieth century. A similar question that is often asked is, “what are the traits that determine career success?” These questions have led to several kinds of research finding the relationship between neatness, cleanliness, and success.
10 Reasons Neat and Organized People Are More Successful and Have Improved Work Efficiency
There are several reasons to maintain organization and cleanliness at work. Here are the top ten reasons to spur you into developing an attitude of organization and cleanliness:
1. Neat people conserve time.
In the corporate and business world, time is money! The time spent looking for the right papers among a pile of materials sitting on your desk is precious time wasted that could have been converted into preparing yourself for meeting with the boss, investing in making a good first or actually get things done. Moreover, regular cleaning gives you structure.
2. helps in boosting the Morale of employees
Being organized breeds confidence and ultimately, success. A tidy and clean workplace brings a positive outlook and strong impression towards how employees view their jobs. Several research efforts have concluded that workers who take pride in their working environment tend to maintain filing systems, organize their own desks, clean up after themselves and work more effectively together.
3. Neatness and Organization creates a sense of professionalism
A neat and tidy workplace creates an atmosphere of professionalism for business owners, employees, and clients. It shows that a company pays attention to detail, tidiness and meticulous planning to clients and colleagues. A messy office, scattered papers or important files out of place can give off the impression of lack of pride in the job to the boss or potential clients. This may lead to loss of business opportunities.
4. Neatness and Organization at work enhance efficiency
It is obvious that a chaotic environment will hinder efficiency. The amount of time spent on non-work related activities like finding where you placed the management file will be poured into the job. This makes you more efficient. An organized workplace motivates workers to reduce work-related-stress, enhances productivity and saves time.
5. Neatness and Organization reduces safety concerns
A messy workplace can present health and safety concerns. For instance, when an old food is kept in the refrigerator for too long, it can leads to illness when consumed by an employee. The work environment should be spacious for easy movement. Objects that can cause injury should be taken off the floor. Workers’ compensation claims will be reduced when a clean, safe and organized workplace is ensured.
6. Cleanliness and Organization breed satisfaction
You know the feeling you have when you walk into a clean environment smelling fresh? Generally, it puts a smile on the face. The same is for employees. It is often said that satisfaction and success are two different concepts but if the workplace is clean and organized, you can always feel satisfied going to your office after closing a client.
7. Cleanliness and Organization reserves assets over the long term
We have been focused on people. Let us now focus on those expensive assets in your office, such as hard floors and carpets. When they are not being cleaned regularly and with the right cleaning products, the scratch-free shining floors will become old.
8. Cleanliness and Organization saves money
When you maintain a policy of cleanliness and organization, you will stop replacing the same items yearly. Many assets when properly organized and cleaned will be of perennial usage to a firm. However, when they are not properly maintained, they will need to be replaced regularly. This can cause a huge financial toll on a business in the long run.
9. Cleanliness and organization create a success ripple effect
There is a reason while SEAL men ensure that they lay their beds every morning. Success begets success. When you maintain cleanliness and organization, you are sending a message to your subconscious that you are a successful person and capable of replicating that success in your business and career.
10. Protection of sensitive documents
When documents are littered on your desk, you may be leaving yourself vulnerable to intellectual theft. Ensuring that files are properly kept and cataloged is your first step towards security. Many secret corporate data, as well as clients’ information, have been carelessly leaked to the media and competitors due to a messy desk. This has led to cases of several lawsuits. This is why companies now implement the “Clean Desk Policy” (CDP).
Clean Desk Policy (CDP)
A clean-desk policy (CDP) refers to a set of corporate rules determining how employees should leave their working space after the workday is over. The policy requirements generally call for the employee to clear the desk and surrounding area at the end of the day from clutter and papers.
This sometimes implies filing unwanted documents away from view, shredding them, placing folders back on the cabinets and organizing files coming in and going out.
The clean-desk policy is often specific to an organization but the common elements of a CDP include:
- Instructions on how the desk and surrounding areas should be kept
- Detailed information on who enforces the policy
- Punishment guidelines which often ranges from a fine to warnings.
When implementing the CDP policy, organizations create contracts with detailed instructions addressing the above points. Accountability and understanding of the policy is guaranteed when the employees sign the contract.
While the employees are majorly expected to keep their work-desks tidy, the implementation of the CDP is ensured by employers to ensure easy adherence. Simple steps employers can take range from providing adequate storage space to guaranteeing access to a shredder for the employees.
Employees at companies like UPS have been adhering to CDPs for years because there is a culture established by James Casey that encourages employees to keep their offices free of clutter, to strive for order and to portray an atmosphere of professionalism to their clients. CDPs are becoming main practices of many organizations today, because of the information security compliance regulations such as the Data Protection Act and ISO 27001.
Although CDP helps a company is protecting sensitive corporate and clients’ data from being slipped by careless handling of the employees to the privy eyes of third parties, it helps employees overcome distractions which may hamper workplace productivity.
Ten practical steps to improving efficiency and having a successful career by developing a culture of cleanliness and organization
1. Purge your workplace
Empty, de-clutter, get rid of everything that you don’t need or want. Take a quick look around your office and notice the things that you haven’t used in a while. Pick one area at a time to avoid stress.
2. Gather and rearrange
Gather all items that are out of place and put them where they belong. Ensure the right catalog and filing system for all your files. Hence, you will be able to know where to look when you need a particular item.
3. Establish work “zones”
When you are a stay-at-home entrepreneur, you may sometimes work in your pajamas. You brag about this. While this is cool, it is important to have a home office. Also, decide what type of activity happens in each area of your office.
4. Ensure close proximity of items you use often
Items that are mostly used for the same purpose should be placed within reach. Things that you seldom use should be stored away.
5. Revise your filing system
We are in the digital age and the need to store paper files has decreased. Figure out documents that you can store digitally. This will reduce the need to keep stacks of papers. If you are storing files on your computer, ensure that you are doing regular back-ups.
6. Archive your files
When you are done with a task or a project, put all of the materials together and file them. Your “working folders” should be for projects in progress.
7. Straighten your desk
At the end of the day clean up your desk, so you have a clean start the next day. This tip is very important. You definitely do not want to be doing yesterday’s task today.
8. Control your inbox
We no longer use snail mails and postal services. E-mail is a convenient medium of communication, but it can be a major distraction when not properly managed. Ensure that you empty your spam inbox, unsubscribe from newsletters that are not beneficial and you will take control of your inbox
9. Get your layout right
This is dependent on the nature of your work and the task at hand. Nevertheless, put frequently-used items on your dominant side.
10. Reassess frequently
Keeping a clean and organized workplace requires frequent upkeep and assessment. Ensure that you make a weekly scan of your office to make sure everything still deserves a spot on your workspace.
When you follow these actionable steps to being neat and organized, it may cost a little time, but the rewards of being organized are highly rewarding. Your clients and colleagues begin to have a new found respect for you and your confidence is boosted. Most importantly, when you are neat and organized, you are on a fast-track towards career success.