Well at Work
Spring Clean Your Desk to Stress Less and Increase Energy
As the creator of Free from Clutter, a business inspired by a book she authored of the same name, Michelle Passoff hears a lot of excuses about why people can’t keep their desks organized. A common argument is that the desk might be messy, but the person knows where everything is. Besides, it’s just part of the creative process.
“The question is whether that system is really working,” says Passoff, a Tampa, Florida-based clutter consultant. “An artist starts a painting with a blank canvas so I like to think of a clean desk as a blank canvas. Without all that stuff in the way you’ll be more creative and energetic.”
Passoff says an organized workstation can improve productivity and energy levels. Here’s how:
Build Momentum and Energy
Tackling a small pile or inbox might seem tedious, but it actually can energize you. “Go through that pile from top to bottom, whether it’s making calls, writing checks, and dealing with leftover odds and ends,” Passoff says. “When you cross those off, you’ll see your energy take a leap and have less stress. If you put yourself on that regimen for one month, you’ll be able to see that things come into your space that you wouldn’t otherwise have the room to receive.” Passoff draws the analogy to email systems that will not allow users to receive additional messages when the mailbox is full. “Those are lost opportunities,” she says. “It’s even more true in the physical space. When you’re filled to capacity, nothing has room to come into your life.”
Passoff asks clients if their desks support their goals. A cluttered desk tells you subconsciously that you’re not ready to accept new projects and business. In fact, some business might have been lost in the clutter. “As you’re cleaning your desk, you may find things you’ve forgotten that will help you reach goals,” she says. “Any empty space doesn’t stay empty for long. It’s a constant flushing process. If you’re busy, things flow into that empty space. The key is to make sure they’re relevant to your goals. Passoff’s business handles estate sales, since families of the deceased often are overwhelmed with dealing with a house full of possessions. She says people shouldn’t be afraid to hire professional organizers, even for relatively modest projects such as organizing an office. “If you’re not exercising, you get a personal trainer. If you don’t do your taxes, you hire someone. A clutter consultant is another expert to help.”
Find a System
Everyone has heard the advice of making files, not piles, but Passoff says an effective filing system is even more important in the digital age. “We’re not a paperless society yet, so you need a filing system that works and corresponds to your activities and projects you're working on. With our computers, we rely too heavily on the search/find button. Your digital filing system needs to be just as organized.”
Passoff suggests setting aside a block of two to four hours to make the initial purge of the desk or workstation. “Don’t think you should be doing more important things,” she says. “That’s the attitude that got you in this predicament in the first place. Organization is an integral part of reaching your goals, not an afterthought.”
About The Author
Pete Williams – Pete Williams is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com and the co-author of the Core Performance book series.