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Messy desks and work life balance

Messydesk I've seen some pretty messy desks in the newsrooms I have worked in. I admit, I've never been a part of the clean desk club. I can work perfectly fine with some papers piled up on my desk. But I try to regain order at least once a week, mostly because I know the amount of mess on your desk can affect your work life balance and your image?

In an Office Team survey, 83 percentof human resources managers said the appearance of an employee’s desk at least somewhat affects their perception of that person’s professionalism. Even more, I'm convinced you feel more balanced, more in control, and more productive when you clean up your desk and know where everything is on it.

But what if it's your co-worker who is the slob? I stumbled across an article in Ladies Home Journal...a question from a worker who shares workspace with a Messy Marvin. It offers two approaches for anyone who wants to nudge their co-worker to tidy up. The first:  "I know you're going to think I'm crazy, but we've got to neaten up or I'll never get any work done. I'll wash the mugs and you work on these piles." The second: Clean up when your co-worker is not around but avoid drastically reorganizing her stuff. If she says something, tell her you can't work in the chaos.

For those of you who need it, OfficeTeam polled members of the International Association of Administrative Professionals for desk organization advice. Here are seven tips provided by survey respondents:

  1. Sit in your visitor chair to get a perspective on what others see when entering your cubicle or office. Clean your workspace so it's visually appealing not only to you but also to your guests.
  2. From the start, establish an organization system that suits your style. You can always rearrange items later, but this will prevent things from getting out of hand early on.
  3. File, don't pile. Eliminate clutter by organizing paperwork in vertical or tickler files. Clearly label or color-code documents so you can find them more easily.
  4. Don't touch the same piece of paper more than once without filing, recycling or tossing it, or passing it along to the next person.
  5. Keep only the materials needed for your current project on your desk, and clear these items after the assignment is completed. Store supplies you need close at hand, and move things that are used less frequently out of the way.  
  6. Print documents only when necessary and go paperless. Electronic calendars, task lists or e-mail alerts can help you remember deadlines, appointments and meetings.
  7. Take a few minutes before lunch and again just before leaving the office to clear your workspace. At the end of each day, prioritize the tasks on your to-do list so you can hit the ground running the next morning.