Why on earth should you celebrate National Clean Off Your Desk Day every day?

The second Monday of every January is National Clean Off Your Desk Day. The idea behind National Clean off your desk day is to provide an opportunity to begin your new year with a clean and organized workspace. Having your workspace uncluttered and organized will help you work more efficiently. A clean workspace improves productivity and inspires us, too. It often gives us a sense of serenity.

Cleaning vs. Clearing

To be clear, what I thinks should be a daily celebration is clearing the desk surface. You see, part of this annual celebration is cleaning everything. That’s important (for your health), but not nearly as important as the clearing. If you’ve ever seen my videos, or read my book or blogs, you know that I believe a clear work surface is your number one organizing tool. You would also know that I believe your number one daily organizing habit is to clear your work surface EVERY day.

Why a clear desk?

Yes, I’ve heard the Albert Einstein quote:”If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Cute Al. Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, and Steve Jobs also had messy desks. It’s true. Scientists have found a benefit to messy desks in inspiring creativity. However for most of us the real challenge is just getting things done. I know ALL the arguments against a clear desk including: “I like things out where I can see them.” I get it. Me too. However, if you have everything out on your work surface, when you start your day. It can be very discouraging  to get started. And when you do get started, it’s very hard to prioritize and stay focused. Too many distractions.

Target your workspace

I have found that there are two things that make it difficult to clear your desk daily.

  1. Easy homes for desktop items
  2. Clear summary of priorities

My solution?

. Indeed, target ALL work spaces. So what do I mean bytarget”? I mean prioritize by each ring. The rings closest to the bull’s eye have top priority. No, I’m not suggesting you paint circles in your workplace, but I am recommending that you DE-prioritize most of the things surrounding your desk and almost all of the things on your desk. Here’s how.

1. In the outer ring, store archives, back-up office supplies, and inventory.

2. The third ring is for reference and display items, like family photos.

3. In the second ring store the printer and other items you often use, but may have to get up for.

4. The first ring is for the bare minimum, fingertip access. This includes your computer, phone, files, and minimal office supplies.

5. The bull’s eye is for your clear work surface. Store NOTHING here. Most of what you clear every night should go to the 1st or 2nd ring.

Paper is the toughest

Of course the toughest item to clear is the paper. Of the paper you’re keeping, it really comes down to a simple choice. If you need to make a point of acting on, it should go with ongoing projects. If it’s something you need to find reliably, it should go in your file cabinet. However, you need to trust that you can quickly find what you want, when you want it FAST. Like 5 seconds fast or less! If not, tune in next month for my video on filing.

A clear runway

Leaving a clear desk when you leave your workspace, means that you have a clear runway. Then you can take off in the morning. A clear desk means you can spread out and sort and prioritize. When you try to prioritize on a cluttered desk, it’s like being hand-cuffed. That’s because there’s too many items competing for your focus. Prioritizing what’s on your desk is essential for maximum productivity. You will travel further and faster and in the right direction, if you prioritize your path first. A clear work surface makes this possible.

That’s why clearing your desk off every day is your #1 daily organizing habit.

So while it’s not practical to thoroughly clean your desk every day, it is possible and highly recommended to clear your desk off every day.

If you need further help, there’s two things you can do.

1. Fairfield and Westchester clients can have my team come in and organize your office 

2. Anyone can work one one-on-one with me through a Virtual Organizing session. Learn how at mattbaier.com.