13 Ways to Declutter Your Workspace

Are there piles of papers and storage boxes visible in your office?

Do you feel proud when you look out across your workplace?

Do your employees take pride in their workplace?

What do customers see when they walk into your business?

Is clutter costing you customers?

Do customers and employees see shiny, fresh, and sleek that says, “We’re successful here and you want to join us!”
Or do they see tired, cluttered, and disorganized that says, “We’re inefficient and probably don’t have the highest quality standards.”
The way your workplace looks is a direct reflection of the quality of work and service delivery.  It doesn’t matter whether customers see your workplace or only your employees. It’s a proven fact that when surrounded by a clean, aesthetically-pleasing environment, overall attitude and work quality increase.

Decluttering your workspace

Here’s a list of 13 Ways to Declutter Your Workplace. You can give this to your management team for dissemination to each employee. Schedule a cleaning day, or a cleaning hour, or a “cleaning 15 minutes each day” until everyone has worked their way through the list:


13 Ways to Declutter Your Workspace

Please complete by ________

  1. Throw away anything that can be considered trash but that hasn’t made it to the trash can: old notes, food wrappers, paper coffee cups, papers from a completed project…
  2. Attack those paper piles. If you haven’t already, set up a filing system by project, subject, or date. There’s no getting around it—look at each piece of paper and decide which file it goes into. Some people like to set up a smaller primary file in a nearby drawer or desktop file holder containing current projects and a larger secondary file in a separate drawer or file cabinet containing long term, don’t-have-to-access-it-daily-or-weekly files.
  3. Organize your desk. Keep frequently used items on top like stapler, tape dispenser, pen and pencil holder, and notepad. Pput less frequently used items like paper clips, rubber bands, hand lotion, and scissors in the drawer.
  4. Clean your electronics and organize them, including keyboards, chargers, phones, and calculators.
  5. Organize messy, tangled cables and get them out of sight as much as possible.
  6. Clear flat surfaces on desks, file cabinets, and countertops. Wipe them with a damp cloth. Reserve the space on flat surfaces to sparingly display tasteful décor items—a plant, statue, lamp, or nice pen set—or personal items like books, framed photos or awards.
  7. Don’t hang too many notes, post-its, pics, charts, awards and photos. Sure it’s nice to hang children’s art work; putting them in frames makes them look so much neater.
  8. Plants are great for décor but make sure they look fresh and healthy: wipe dust from the leaves, trim brown tips, remove dead foliage, and clean and shine the pot.
  9. Hang up coats, jackets, purses, backpacks, and gym bag vs hanging them over the back of the chair.
  10. Keep one drawer empty and use it to place all of today’s work in so that it’s ready to go the next morning.
  11. Every time you add, take away. If you add new documents to the front of a file, pull out some old ones from the back. Add a book or binder to the shelf; take one away.
  12. As on ongoing habit, put everything in its final resting place. Whether it be a filing cabinet, trash can, or cabinet in the storage room, handle papers only once.
  13. At the end of each shift, stop working 2 minutes early to clean—throw paper cups away, clear flat surfaces, dust or polish a thing or two, trim the brown leaves from the plant, tidy the breakroom, or even toss a few old documents from a file.

Here’s a short Lifehacker article for more good ideas. http://lifehacker.com/5641578/top-10-ways-to-organize-and-streamline-your-workspace

As the business leader, provide your team with the resources they need to clean and declutter.

  • Install hooks or coat racks for coats and backpacks.
  • Provide team members with individual cleaning kits containing things like canned air keyboard spray, dust cloth or pre-moistened wipes, glass cleaner
  • Consider a cleaning service, even it’s just monthly for the major cleaning and for the dirt you don’t notice accumulating over time.

As always, get your staff on board by involving them in the solution. Start by explaining WHY you want to do this, what the benefits are, and what’s in it for them. Then get their input.

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