When was the last time you cleaned your desk, or your computer keyboard? When was the last time you saw the surface of your desk? Both these places are commonly found to harbour more bacteria than the average toilet, if not regularly cleaned. And some people make it a regular practice to eat at their desks…. Yuck!
What is a ‘clean desk’?
What most people think of when you use the phrase ‘clean desk’ is one that is clear of papers and well organised. Keeping on top of the paper clutter on your desk, can help exponentially with clarity of thought and your stress levels. It’s very easy to dismiss this as a ‘frill’ that you don’t need, especially when you’re young and can easily hold lots of things in your mind at once. You can even become addicted the sense of ‘urgency’ and ‘busy-ness’ that chaos produces, as it makes your job seem more complicated and a bit more like a battle, which actually secretly gives some people a buzz.
The price of an untidy desk
But having a chaotic desk usually means that you spend an extra percentage of time to complete tasks because your brain is having to constantly assess and categorise, and is constantly being distracted below your level of awareness. Most people don’t notice this extra time, because it is generally only 5-10%. 5% or 10% doesn’t seem like much, but over the course of days or weeks or months of your working life, it can make a lot of difference.
The cost of not having a clean desk builds up over time
If you’re a regular saver or a business owner, you’ll know how even small percentage differences build up. And 10% extra time to get the same amount of work done feels like too much time to me, for the indulgence of a not being bothered to set up a good working system or a ‘buzz’! A clear desk can also help with the effectiveness of your decisions together with the quality of your work (again because of the ‘distraction’ factor) and that too saves a lot of time in the long run.
Two ways to keep a clean desk policy
An efficient way to work is the obvious advantage of keeping a clear desk, but not the only one. It also makes it much more likely that you will clean properly, and that can mean that you’re less at risk of catching some nasty bug from your desk. (By the way, a bit of washing up liquid in warm water, together with a little ammonia for the germs, and a toothbrush which has been dipped in it and well squeezed into a towel first, to get into the gaps, is the best way to clean your keyboard). Now you’ve got two good reasons to keep your desk clear instead of one….
If you’d like to know more about how to keep a clear desk you’ll find details in the two home office chapters in ‘Banish Clutter Forever’…