How To Tackle Cleaning Out Your Desk - Heather Santo

How To Tackle Cleaning Out Your Desk

By Heather Santo | 5S


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How To Tackle Cleaning Out Your Desk


You see it each day and sometimes it frightens you. The collection of papers, Post-It Notes, message and dusty folders. Although you may try to shove it into desk drawers, it still haunts you. That sinking feeling that you will never get it done, but hope to avoid it until it is a necessity. You know what I’m talking about. ::insert Twilight Zone Music:: YOUR DESK.

 According to experts, Americans waste almost 30 minutes a day – 180 hours a year – looking for misplaced items. If your hourly wage is $20, that’s $3600 a year! I would wager that there are many things you could do with an extra $3600 or 180 hours this year.

Especially if you work from home, your desk is your catch-all for everything. You may eat there, write, do bills, work your business, have cat toys or any other random stuff that happens to end up on it. If an entire family is contributing to using your desk as a junk drawer, it’s time to start cleaning. There is no guilt in throwing crap on top of crap, but a person thinks twice about putting random objects on a clean desk. It’s almost a feeling of guilt.

 Now, HOW do you go about facing the beast? Try these simple steps on cleaning out your desk:

1. Set aside the time: Now, the no time excuse is not going to work in this instance and I don’t care how bad your desk is. I’ve seen them all and then some. The only way you will ever do it is to just do it. Put it on your to-do list and get it over with. Plan to spend at least an hour.

2. Take everything out: Even if it scares you, the only way you will ever clean it up is to look the mess in the face. Clean out the top, the sides, even the little keyboard drawer that may have stuff in it. Once you have everything off the desk, clean it up. Get a safe solution and clean your monitor, keyboard, computer fans — if you can access them from the outside — and the inside and outside of the entire desk. 

3. Decide the Fate: Now that everything is out, you need to sort it into categories. If it is not part of your business, it shouldn’t be there. Look at the dates on everything and sort the mess into piles. Get rid of anything that is expired or outdated. Everything should have a home and everything in it’s place. The system is called Kaizen. If you REALLY are serious about cleaning up your act, you can read more about it here.

If you aren’t sure what you want to remain on your desk, here are some tips

4. Keep it where it’s needed: There some convenience items that can end up on your desk just because you don’t want to get up and get it from where it belongs. That is unfortunately how many desk fiascos begin. EVERYTHING does not need to be in/on your desk. Just the things that you are going to immediately use and access daily. If you have a box with 200 pens in it, how many of those are you going to use in a day? Just keep 1 or 2 and the rest elsewhere. 

5. Put it back: The items that survived the purge should be put back where it is best used. If you use it often, keep it nearby. If you won’t use it often, map it where you are putting it and only get it as you need it. 

6. Stay The Course: Cleaning out your desk is only effective if you keep up with it daily. At the end of each day, I set aside time to “Reset” my desk. That means I put it back to completely clean and ready for the next day. It makes me feel more productive by having my desk perfectly neat and organized to start each day. Empty any trash, file any paperwork. Have a “reset” stage that you want your desk to look like every day and don’t shut the office door til it looks that way. Keeping that schedule will keep the beast at bay. 




Head Shot Cropped VAHeather Santo is a certified Virtual Administrative Consultant with over 15 years of customer service experience. She also spent time in corporate America as a Human Resources Manager performing generalist duties and specializing in recruiting. She now enjoys using her talents to serve her clients and help them to operate their businesses efficiently. She specializes in Aweber, Pinterest, WordPress Thesis, Gratitude Concierge Work and social media content graphic creation.

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