USAA Tips: Clean up your workspace for a fresh look

Content provided courtesy of USAA.

The New Year is a great way to refresh your career purpose as well as refresh, clean, and organize your workspace. Get started today with these simple tips to clean up your workspace and re-motivate yourself.

Your Workspace is an Extension of You. One of the primary reasons for a clean workspace is so that your place of work is an extension of your skills, abilities, and organization. A disorganized personal space may lead to a belief the person that owns the space is disorganized. True or not, we always want to project the best image to our boss, our team, our peers, and the rest of the organization. An organized, clean, and uncluttered workspace is the first step to creating a professional image.

Pick a Quiet Time in the Office to Clean Up. Clean-up activities can be noisy and potentially distracting for others. To minimize the distraction of cleaning, pick a quiet time in the office. Early morning, early evening, or a weekend morning can be some of the best times to clean and reorganize your space. A quiet time also allows you to wheel in trash bins and cleaning supplies to make the most of your cleaning efforts.

Schedule Several One Hour Sessions to Complete the Clean Up. Life and other workplace events constantly come up. Scheduling multiple, one-hour cleaning sessions is a way to ensure that the cleaning and de-cluttering gets done even if some other workplace requirements come up. In addition, scheduling allows you to break up the task to allow creation of cleaning “segments” that you can divide into your desk, cabinets, and electronic media.

Get Rid of Unused Items. Getting rid of unused and old items is a great and immediate step to de-clutter. Just like in the military, there is lots of potential competitive information that may be thrown away. If in doubt, put anything written, printed, or typed into locked “shred-only” bins. Shredding everything ensures that your information, company information, and customer information all remain secure. In addition, destroy all old electronic media that can become a potential for loss.

Donate Old Projects & Materials to Those in Current Position. In addition, before throwing out old items from previous positions, be sure to check with the current occupant of those roles to see if your “old” information can help them in their current roles. Helping others currently occupying your previous roles is a terrific way to both de-clutter and assist others – all in one step. This can also lead to meetings and collaboration sessions where you help the current occupant meet some of the challenges that you faced.

Keep Your “TO DO” List Up-To-Date When Cleaning. Cleaning through old files always brings up ideas, reminders, and new concepts that need to go onto your “To Do” list. Keep a running “To Do” list on your desk and write whatever comes to mind. Then, after cleaning, merge your old and new “To Do” lists and create an initial prioritization to review with your boss. Then, schedule a draft and final review with your boss. Cleaning up and de-cluttering is a great refresher to ensure you have all the tasks, initiatives, and priorities aligned to your boss’s expectations.

Delete, File, & Share Old Electronic Media. Just like paper files, too many electronic files can build up unnecessarily. As a first step, organize all your files by work category, work project, or at a minimum by month and year. Before deleting any files, make sure that you are complying for your workplace’s record retention policy. Most of the time, organizing instead of deleting is the best path to organize and streamline electronic media. Make sure you create backups in a secure location of any business-critical records or databases.

Schedule a Clean Up Every Quarter for your Workspace. The last step is to pledge never to have a messy desk again. Scheduling just 1-2 hours every quarter can make all the difference in maintaining a neat, de-cluttered, and organized workspace every quarter, and, importantly, throughout the year.

A clean workspace that is de-cluttered and organized is an excellent reflection of your workplace professionalism and image. Take an aggressive stance at the start of the year to keep your desk clean, organized, and professional.