Space race: Clean office to make room for improvements

Becky Ripper
Becky Ripper

You might believe the way you keep your office is a matter of personal preference and style, and I suppose it is. But this personal space of yours is likely visible to co-workers, supervisors and maybe even customers. Appearances are powerful and matter. In fact, the appearance of your office and desk is as important as the clothes on your back.

Some of you might be thinking:  Why does it matter what my office or desk looks like if I get my work done? I know where everything is, and people worry too much about appearances. While these things could be true, it’s also true if your office or desk is a mess, you’re likely to be perceived as a mess as well.

For decades, the FBI has known you can judge someone by their workspace. That’s why there are special investigators who visit the offices of criminals. And a study conducted by the University of Texas found that people with messy offices are less efficient, organized and imaginative than people with clean desks.

Take a tip from General Electric, a company known for developing outstanding managers throughout its ranks. GE requires everyone to have a sparkling clean desk each night when they go home. This makes sense: GE attempts to make everyone a potential manager by preventing people from undermining themselves.

The ancient and timeless wisdom of Feng Shui says when there’s no room on your desk, there’s no room to think. When you clear your desktop, you also clear your head. You become more organized and less stressed. A clear workspace allows room for new possibilities, ideas  and creative solutions. A clean and organized workspace not only exudes good energy, but also helps you stay motivated and focused on your career goals. Consider this saying: “The clutter of the room and the clutter of the soul are intrinsically linked.”

Organization guru Peter Walsh, author of “Lighten Up: Love What You Have, Have What You Need, Be Happier with Less,” says, “The issue isn’t space, it’s too much stuff.” Walsh recommends establishing zones in your office for different functions: a workspace for your computer, a library area for your books, a storage area for supplies and a filing area for your archives. Give everything a place and then set limits on the amount of items in each place. Once you’ve filled your book shelf, remove a book for every new one you add. When you’re filing cabinet starts to overflow, throw out or digitally archive anything older than a year.

Here are some more easy tips for making your workspace work for you:

Deal with everything that comes across your desk. Act on it, file it or toss it.

Decide on the most important items that you need permanently on your desk, including your computer, telephone, file folders, pens and inspirational decor. Try to limit it to no more than nine permanent items.

Conceal cables and electrical wiring to help reduce the mess.

Differentiate between clutter and storage. Stored items should be stacked neatly in a cupboard or binders.

Don’t clutter your desk with too many notes or reminders. Use a good calendar or organizer to keep track of appointments and things to do.

Devote a little time each day to filing, organizing and putting things in proper places. Start with the old clutter that’s been bothering you for a while.

Don’t pile files that stay on your desk for days. If you need to work with them, find a side cabinet or shelf  to hold them. Leaving unfinished work on your desk creates stagnant energy that will feel overwhelming to you the next morning. (Remember the tip from GE about a nice clean desk?)

Don’t be surprised by the improvements and new opportunities that will follow once you get your workspace cleaned and cleared.

Fall conference scheduled

The Western Colorado Human Resource Association and Mountain States Employers Council has scheduled a fall conference for 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Sept. 17 at Two Rivers Convention Center, 159 Main St.

in downtown Grand Junction. The conference will offer presentations on generational differences in the workplace, leadership, business ethics, coaching and the future of human resources. Early admission through Aug. 29 is $149 for WCHRA members, $189 for others. Admission afterward will be $30 more. A discounted bundled rate that includes WCHRA membership and conference admission is available for $288 for Society of Human Resource Management members and $328 for others. To register or obtain more information, log on to