I feel so disorganised at work – what can I do?


Disorganisation is often associated with messy desks that give others the impression that you may not have your work (or life) under control. But recently, there's been some debate regarding the benefits of clutter. One American study found that those who worked in mess were more inclined towards original and creative thinking. But you’re not off the hook! The same study identified that a clean desk helps with following rules, being generous,  eating healthily and feeling ‘in control’.

So, unless your job requires only creative brilliance and rule breaking, it's best to get things under control.

To begin, create a clear space. Most of us work on a computer, but it's important to have a space clear for other kinds of work: sorting papers, making notes, filing etc. Make it a priority to keep this area clutter free.

Do you use that stapler hourly? And that hole punch? If you don’t use supplies constantly – put them away! Have a place for everything and keep everything in its place. That way you can maintain a sense of control over your workspace and you can avoid wasting time looking for things.

It is so easy to allow piles of paper to build up. Get on top of the paper: file and purge paper regularly, open mail near a bin or shredder and never move a piece of paper around on your desk. Deal with it, delegate it or dump it.

Think of how more careful you are after your house has been cleaned - you're a little more careful with sink splashes and sweeping for a few days after. Imagine if you kept a duster and screen wipe nearby, you'd feel the same way about your desk. Keep cleaning supplies around.

Whether it's for your lamps, computer or cell phone, it's easy to let cords over run your workspace. Tidy up the cords - there are many gizmos to keep you organised, but even a simple cable tie can make a difference.

Wrappers from sandwiches, crumbs from cookies and various other food-associated items create so much mess. Stop eating at your desk, and you'll find it lessens — and it's a good idea to take a break anyway.

Why do you still have a pencil holder full of highlighters, ball-point pens and pencils? You only need two pens on your desk, so get ruthless and toss the rest.

View your desk as a task manager. You can prioritise your workspace according to what you use most and least. Think about your daily tasks and how your desk reflects those.

Go digital. Post-Its can be a useful, but they also create a HUGE mess that can impact you more than you realise. Get in the habit of making to-do lists on your phone for more streamlined, neater organisation.

Keep the personal to a minimum. It's nice to be able to look at your family while at work, but it's easy to let personal items and knickknacks build up. Stick to just one picture frame. That's it.

Make time at the end of the day (or the end of the week, if daily feels too much) to clean up your desk with these tips. Remember it can help you start the next day feeling more organised and less stressed (so you're really just doing yourself a favour).

For more on organisation within the workplace, contact [email protected]