Clutter. The word instills instant anxiety for some people and I happen to be one of them. Clutter and I go way back. Further back than I care to remember. I've often asked myself, Why does my desk get so messy? These days, with so many people working from home, you don't even have the benefit of leaving the clutter behind when you leave the office. Plus, someone else at home may not be happy with the mess.

The excuses or reasons why your workspace is a mound of stress-inducing crap are many, but really, when you examine your situation carefully and honestly, the excuses don't hold water. From personal experience and from much research and discussion with experts, I've overcome this madness with 5 simple strategies.

Brian Stephenson
Brian Stephenson

5 Easy Steps To Declutter and Organize Your Workspace

#1. Acknowledge the fact that you have a problem. You don't have to get up in front of a group of your messy peers and announce it - but you do have to stop kidding yourself. Your messy desk is causing you to be more stressed out than you need to be. It's also a drain on your productivity since you're likely not finding things that are lost in the shuffle. Take the proverbial look at yourself in the mirror and agree - the problem needs fixing!

#2. Get started. Sometimes this step is the hardest one to take. After all, if getting started came naturally, you likely wouldn't be in a pickle in the first place. Begin by throwing away everything you don't absolutely need. Be honest. Unless you want to wind-up on some cable show about hopeless hoarders, ditch all those stacks of paper that you'll never have a need to look at again. If it has a proper place, as in, documents which could be filed, do it. If not, toss it into the recycling bin and make Mother Nature sing.

#3. Narrow down to basics. Are there pictures laying around that you've yet to hang on your walls? Put them up and be done with it. Do you still have Christmas cards on the bulletin board from 2019? Toss 'em! The piles of paper that you looked at once and then set down on top of a pile of other papers you don't need and looked at once...refer to step two and throw them away. If you don't need it and it doesn't have a place, get rid of it.

#4. When Organized, Craft a plan. After your desk looks like a display from a local office products store, take that snapshot in your mind and don't let go of it. What you need to do right now is craft a plan to prevent the dreaded 'cluster monster' from coming back to get you. It should be clear by now what you have a tendency to hang onto and you need to put safeguards in place to keep yourself from going back to bad habits. Use stacking trays or file folders. Only keep out what you need - and everything else goes into the file drawer - or the 'round file'.

#5. Check yourself daily & weekly. Bad habits are hard to break but easy to slide back into. Checking on yourself daily, at the end of the workday before you turn off your computer, is the perfect time to review your organization. Sure, there will be busy days when you will forget or won't have time. That's fine, do it tomorrow. At the very least, that weekly check-in as the whistle blows on Friday afternoon can be your failsafe checkpoint. That way, Monday morning will greet you with a fresh start.

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