Could you work efficiently at this desk?

Does it matter if your desk is clean? Didn’t Steve Jobs have a notoriously messy work station? Apple seemed to get along just fine under his guidance.

When it comes to office clutter, we can’t all be Mr. Clean. That doesn’t mean we should mimic our most scatter-brained college professor, either. Just because you work at home without the judgmental eyes of coworkers and bosses looking over doesn’t mean you should sacrifice order to the wind. If you’ve ever spent half the morning looking for a misplaced sticky note or a lost file on your laptop, give yourself an hour to make a few changes.

Reconfigure Your Furniture

Who doesn’t love a little remodeling? Maybe you’ve got a filing cabinet whose doors don’t open all the way because it’s in the corner against the desk. Perhaps you’ve never been happy with your office chair, or you struggle with recurring pain in your wrist or lower back.

If you’re cleaning off your work station, this is the chance to fix it. I recently raised my home desk to a standing desk. After using a coffee table on top of my existing desk to give it a trial run for the day, I found that I was more productive and less likely to get distracted surfing the web when I stood up to work. Now I save the Facebooking for on my tablet, at the end of the day when I’m cozy on the couch.

Get Rid of Paper

Stacks of receipts, forms and other paperwork are the worst offender on most desks. Banish them away through a filing system. Start with a box of folders and envelopes, labeling each one and putting them in a consolidated space, out of sight.

Another great option can be to utilize a small desktop scanner. Run receipts and files through this and they’ll automatically be saved to your computer, where you can save them out of the way and shred the paper evidence.

Put Stuff Away

This is the obvious step, but sometimes it takes a little prompting. Most importantly, everything needs a place to go. It’s the things that don’t have a ‘home’ that end up sitting on our desks for weeks, months or years at a time. Give everything a place and give yourself a fresh start.

Tidy Up Your Computer

Even the messiest desks of our parents’ generation didn’t have to deal with the added burden of emails, PDFs, digital photographs, and so forth.

After years of a computer desktop littered with overlapping icons, I finally devised a system where I limit my home screen to five icons. Within each of these are folders for whatever projects or clients I’m working with. Anything that I’m actively working on each day is stored in my Dropbox folder (Google Drive or any other file-syncing program will work too).

At the end of each day, I’m back to a clean desktop with just five folders, making it easy to get started in the morning.

Have you tried any of these ideas yourself? What other tips to reduce clutter do you recommend?

Kenneth McCall builds creative and innovative tools for customer seeking self storage units. Kenneth is a managing partner at storage.com which provides storage units in Miami and units in Florida and other Gulf states as well as around the country. In his spare time he likes to get outside, ideally with a boat and water-skis.

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