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Cleaning Your Desk & Work Area

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

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What does your office area look like? Can your find what you need in your files? Are they pile files or organized files? January 14 is National Clean your Desk Day. Maybe it could be expanded to clean your office area, whether it be at the office or home. It is surprising how fast papers and other things can pile up. If everyone would follow the saying, "A place for everything and everything in its place," clutter would be reduced and we wouldn’t need special days to clean our desks.

To start the task of cleaning off a desk make a list of the things on the desk. Are there items that should have a different home that are just taking up space? If so, decide if the item can be placed elsewhere or if it is an essential item for use on the desk. Are there empty cans, bottles, bags, etc.? Start the habit of throwing them away or recycling them when finished.

Keeping a desk orderly and clean takes management skills. These management skills should not be difficult and affect your social, emotional and physical well-being. You will spend less time looking for things and have less stress because you will be able to do tasks on time and use less time and energy completing the task. Procrastination gets in the way on using good management skills as we think we can just do it later or maybe not at all. The problem is more time and energy is wasted trying to get out of the job than actually doing it one step at a time.

Some tips to help keep the desk or work area orderly are:

  • Shred and/or recycle other unwanted mail. Do this immediately when you get the mail so it doesn’t have a chance to stack up.
  • Keep lists and notes on the computer or your smartphone to replace sticky notes and other pieces of paper.
  • Be a decision-maker. Clutter is many times the result of unmade decisions.

Think about how much time is spent at a desk — work desk, computer desk and/or school desks. In addition, we have sewing tables, dining and/or kitchen tables serving as a catch all. Now is a great time to join the clean your desk or area group. Start with one pile and work your way around the desk and cluttered areas you have in your life. Take a few minutes tomorrow and clean your desk and put to work some simple management skills to make your life, your family and coworkers jealous of the skills you’ve used to make work easier and less stressful. Perhaps you can challenge others to clean their areas also. You might just find something you thought was lost forever.


Ask Lorene

(This resource was updated January 2013 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

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