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50 years of success - Established 1974

50 Years of Success
Established in 1974

"Helping you gain
.control of your career"

Could a Clear Desk Policy Help You?


You may think that having a clear desk will do nothing to help your productivity, but you’d be wrong. Having a clear desk can help you organise not only your work, but your mind as well, so that you get the most out of the time spent at your desk – whether that’s working from home, in an office or studying. Ideally, we should all aim for a paperless work environment, but that’s still a long way off and some occupations, such as copywriting, often require that you work on hard copies. So, until that time in the future when paper is no longer needed, it’d be wise to learn why and how to achieve a ‘clear desk’.

I know that I’m not able to concentrate unless my desk is clear and tidy; it may be a little bit obsessive compulsive disorder, but everything has to be in its place. Once it is, I’m ready to start work. So, could a clear desk policy help you too? Well, have a read through the benefits listed below and see if they could make your everyday working life a little easier:

Work frame of mind – If you work or study at home on a regular basis, you need to have a space that allows you to slip into ‘work mode’ when it’s time to knuckle down. Ideally, you should have a separate space, an office, to work in, but we don’t all have that luxury. So, a clear desk policy can help you focus on the jobs that need to be done, instead of thinking about what’s for dinner or when you’re going to decorate the living room. You wouldn’t think about these things if you were in an office environment, they’re not on your mind because you’re at work. But, when you are at home they can easily creep into your thoughts, affecting your levels of efficiency.

Space – keeping your desk clear will give you more room to spread out. You’ll have the space to keep the papers you’re working with in front of you. This allows you to put your hands on the documentation you need quickly and easily, increasing your efficiency.

No distractions – as I mentioned earlier, clutter is distraction. Having a desk full of papers that have nothing to do with what you are working on will distract you. Not only does it clutter your desk, but it also reminds you that you’ve other work to do, taking your focus away from what you are doing. Think about it, you’ve got a yellow post-it note with a telephone number, name and, in big letters, ‘please call this person back’ right in your line of vision. This will attract your eye and give you a constant reminder that you’ve got another task to do, distracting you from focussing on your current job. Instead of leaving it there, move the note to the ‘to do’ pile on your desk – if you don’t have a ‘to do’ pile, make one! You should now be able to focus on the task at hand.

Motivation – the psychological impact of a clear desk should not be underestimated. Looking at huge piles of untidy papers that need attention is bad for your state of mind – it can demoralise you and weaken your motivation. You want to try and avoid creating the question ‘Where do I start?’ when looking at your desk. Keeping your desk clear and tidy will give you a sense of order – you should know which jobs are important and need doing first and which can wait until later.

Maintaining confidentiality – this is not as important if you’re studying or work from home, as I am assuming you don’t let any Tom, Dick or Harry rifle through your desk. But, if you work with sensitive information in an office environment, you should ensure that you maintain confidentiality to avoid breaking data protection laws. I’m sure you’d not want the cleaner in the office that deals with your home insurance having access to your personal information. Not that I am insinuating that the cleaners would do anything untoward with the information, but it’s better to be safe than sorry as data protection breaches are a serious matter.

So, what do you think, could a clear desk help you get more done? Once way to find out is to monitor how much work you get done using your current system and then adopt a clear desk policy for a month or two and see if your efficiency improves?

If you need further help improving the amount of work you get done in the time you have, why not request a prospectus for our Effective Time Management course?