What To Do With Your Untidy Desk

Many of us have a desk, whether that be at work or at home. Your desk is where you may spend 8 or more hours of your day, so it’s important to make sure it’s not cluttered. A messy desk can actually undermine productivity and motivation.

If you’re a businessman or businesswoman then you may even have clients sit at your desk, so you need to make sure it always looks presentable or you risk being judged on your desk etiquette alone.

Did you know that, based on a survey of 1000 people by Adecco, 57% admit that they judge their co-workers on how clean/dirty their workspace is? That’s a statistic you certainly want to avoid. So, what can you do to make sure it remains tidy?


Commonly Forgotten Things

There are many ways in which you can keep your desk tidy and many of the solutions will already be at your fingertips. For example, many of those who clutter their desks are leaving empty packets and bottles/cups on their desk. If you don’t have a bin already you need to get one – but more importantly you need to use it! Your desk is not a bin.

When it comes to dirty cups and mugs, you need to make sure you get rid of them as soon as you’re done with them. A mouldy cup is not only unattractive on a desk, the mould spores can also make you very unwell if you don’t remove it. According to the NHS, damp mould can not only affect your immune system but also give you respiratory infections or even asthma.

Leave cups to soak in a sink, or rinse it out/clean it ready to be used again the same day. Try to use the same cup, rather than use lots of different ones – you should never have more than 1 cup on your desk. Same goes for glasses, even if they’ve only had squash in them.


Let’s Get Minimal

minimalistic office

Image credit: Denis Ismagilov via 123RF 

Your desk doesn’t just need to be tidy, it also needs to be minimal. Having lots on your desk limits your own movement and gives you less freedom. Even if it’s tidy, it can still be in the way and moving stuff around constantly takes you away from your work unnecessarily.

Only have on your desk items that you use frequently every day, such as pens and a notepad. Anything else should go in desk drawers and be out of sight, as you don’t need to get to them regularly enough to warrant taking up desk space.

Additionally, having more on your desk makes it harder to then clean your desk. In a study by a microbiologist from University College London Hospital they found, after doing swab tests on office keyboards, that some had up to 5 times as many dangerous bacteria as the office toilet seats!


Helpful Tools and Stationary

There are a few little gadgets you can use to help keep your desk organised. For example there are metal frames and boxes in which you can store important papers. Using upright stands for paper can save you even more space.

You can also use various pen pots to store pens, pencils and even items like scissors. Having things standing upright is the key to lifting bits and bobs off your desk. Lastly you could consider a stand for your computer, so that you can use the space under your computer to store stuff.


A Tidy Desk Equals A Tidy Mind

relaxed businessman

Image credit: pat138241 via 123RF

Although there is an argument for untidy desks promoting creativity in those using them, a study of 400 managers at New York firm HLW International showed that staff were in fact more productive overall when the office was clean.

It’s also quite common for those with tidy desks to create new ‘pop-up’ desks because their main desk is so untidy. Ignoring the mess will only add more stress to your day and leave you moving around more trying to avoid it.

You don’t have to be a super tidy person naturally to know how to keep your desk at a reasonable level of tidy. As long as you’re still able to work and not hindered in any way by your mess, then it’s perfectly fine. The second it does become an issue, it needs to be addressed.


Key Takeaways:

  • Messy desks undermine motivation and productivity.
  • More than half of your co-workers are judging how tidy you are.
  • Mouldy cups could lead to respiratory infections.
  • Your keyboard could be dirtier than your toilet seat.
  • A clean office overall can make everyone more productive.

Do you have a messy desk? Do you think a messier desk is better for you? We’d love to know what you think about this age old office debate, so please leave us your pictures and comments via our Twitter page at @CCC_Finance or via our Facebook page.

Feature image credit: Steven Cukrov via 123RF

Leave a Comment