Decluttering Tips for the Workplace

Albert Einstein once quipped, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Who says it has to be cluttered at all?

Welcome to spring, and to the annual tradition of spring cleaning.

But a lot of you spend 40 hours a week or more outside of the home you’re apparently polishing this season.

Don’t forget the workplace needs loving too. Think about that e-mail account, bursting at its pixelated seams.

It’s time to clean the pen caps out of your drawer and the spam out of your inbox. Here’s how:

Spring cleaning tips for your workspace!
Spring cleaning tips for your workspace!

Desk Space

Fifty-seven percent of active workers have judged a colleague based on his or her desk, reports an Adecco survey. Just imagine what your clients think, not to mention your boss.

You know the benefits of a well-kept desk, but it’s easy to forget its impact on your image as a professional. The desk’s surface is, therefore, most important.

It’s hard to select which items should stay or stow, so here’s what you should keep out:

  • Computer
  • Keyboard
  • Telephone
  • Notes, project materials
  • Decorations

Everything else: in the cabinet.


If your actual mailbox looked anything like your inbox, the post office would call you with concerns. E-mail isn’t the two-way carrier pigeon it once was, and spam is just the beginning. Corporations often abuse e-mail for one-liners to an entire department, and after a week of them, you can barely find your outreach letter.

Until management decides to address you in person, create folders separating messages. Set your account to do so when the mail comes in from certain people, and plant reminders to respond if you’re busy.

If your company struggles with crowd control, you may even consider beefing security. Identity theft protection services like LifeLock provide Internet surveillance for those who worry about the safety of certain interactions, especially when multiple accounts within a building grant access to the same server.

Oh, and clean your flipping spam folder.

The Social Cleanse

Many Facebook users go on “housecleaning” sprees with their friend list. And as awful as it sounds, it makes sense on a couple of levels.

  • Trim your LinkedIn account of the connections with whom you no longer have a strong professional association. CBS Philly suggests doing the same on Facebook; if a photo album is questionable, bag it. You don’t have time for the things that don’t make you look good, and they can ripple into your career, whether you like it or not.
  • Borrow that logic for the sake of your cubicle, quad or wherever you’re sitting. Pick up an item. Did you use it in the last six months? If not, it’s gonesville.


There’s no mandate on yearly cleanup, and apathy is sometimes the one thing contributing to a pigsty. Schedule time to exclusively clean. Make it a Friday, when you’re in a good mood.

At the same time, according to Lifehacker, throwing away old stuff doesn’t have to mean empty space. Replace old plants and outdated pictures with new décor that creates long-term morale and reminds you of your happy place when you’re not deleting “enhancement” ads from your spam folder.


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