How to Declutter Office Space to Increase Productivity

Decluttering office space has always been a challenge for any business. Accumulating miscellaneous things after a period of time is inevitable after all. Documents pile up, new office supplies come in to replace older ones, but the older ones never really leave your space. They end up scattered around the office somehow— either in a drawer or the corner of a desk, and so the cycle continues.

How to Declutter Office Space to Increase ProductivitySource

If your office currently has this setup, maybe it’s time to consider a major clean up. Decluttering with a healthy amount of an organizational overhaul not only sanitizes a space, it can also elevate work quality, boost efficiency, and improve one’s health. 

These reasons should be compelling enough to convince just about any company executive to be conscious of the office space. 

Productivity Benefits of a Clean Office Space

How to Declutter Office Space to Increase ProductivitySource

One of the most noticeable effects of a fresh-looking and polished office space is increase in office productivity. Here are some benefits of a clean office space:

1. Promotes focus and efficiency

As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” With no distractions in plain view, there won’t be much temptation to think or do other non-work-related things. Keeping your space clean will allow you to focus on the task at hand and solely make sense of the things you need.

2. Maximizes time and energy to do things that matter

With just your priorities prepped at your desk and all miscellaneous items tucked away into designated keeping spaces, there won’t be a need to spend so much time looking for things. You won’t be wasting any time and energy trying to dig into a pile of clutter only to find out it’s not actually there. With proper storage and organization, you’ll know where everything is because everything will be where it’s supposed to.

How to Declutter Office Space to Increase ProductivitySource

3. Simplifies processes

Similar to improving your work efficiency, decluttering can also simplify processes. Take getting files for example, they may be normally stored somewhere far from a working space. Putting them somewhere more accessible not only saves time but makes it much easier to work.

4. Improves employees’ health

A messy desk can lead to stress and lower productivity because you spend more time looking for misplaced things and information. In line with this, a disorganized desk and office space might promote an abundance of unwanted germs and bacteria. Cleaning and decluttering ensures a safer and more functionable space for all workers.

5. Brings in positive energy

By applying decluttering methods similar to Marie Kondo’s ever-pressing question “Does it spark joy?”, everyone is forced to only keep the essentials. Susan Carnes, Corporate Communications Director at APTMetrics in Darien, Conn., shares the sentiment of positive energy when she chose to keep things she was more proud of over those she didn’t need.

Types of Clutter

How to Declutter Office Space to Increase ProductivitySource

Clutter is a jumble of many different things. It can be small items such as forgotten accessories scattered across your space, or clunky items like a pile of notebooks—both used and unused. It’s important to look into what kind of clutter there is in your office. Then you can reevaluate their importance to your business, relevance to your work, and employee’s safety and state of mind.

  • Unnecessary items on your desk

When you look at your desk, do you think some items need to be out in the open or can they be stocked away in a drawer? They may easily distract and occupy much-needed desk space. These things can be piles of sticky notes, toiletries, and other personal-care products.

  • Documents you no longer need or read

Your office reference library may hold a number of books and miscellaneous material related to your field. Conduct a regular evaluation of their relevance and use to the company. If you find anything that you don’t have an immediate use for, get rid of it.

  • Unfinished projects

There may be an accumulated bunch of projects that have been put on hold. If they won’t be picked up anytime soon, then it’s best to just allocate a spot for the unfinished projects.

How to Declutter Office Space to Increase ProductivitySource

  • Sentimental clutter 

Every employee is entitled to keep some form of motivation at their desk for their own wellbeing. However, there may be too much that might compromise more desk space than necessary. Allow one item of sentimental value per person to motivate them. Let your employees evaluate their items with the help of organization expert, Tracy McCubbin’s tips to letting go.

  • Potentially useful clutter

For historical purposes, you may keep past projects, records, and so on in a proper storage container. Look through them if they’re necessary references and if not, it’s time to throw it out.

  • Stocked clutter 

There are many things everyone in the office needs, like pens, paper, and other supplies. Instead of letting each person keep all these things, a supply station might be of good use.

  • Recreational clutter

Some employees may keep recreational items like board games for everyone to enjoy and unwind after work. These can be relocated to a space designated purely for activities and company engagement.

How to Declutter Office Space to Increase ProductivitySource

  • Emergency clutter

Everyone has their own form of emergency items like umbrellas and spare shoes. Perhaps a designated area for these items would work well.

  • Unopened documents and packages

Sometimes documents and packages come in but aren’t opened. These may need to be reviewed and discarded after a certain period of time.

How to Clean & Organize Your Office Space

How to Declutter Office Space to Increase ProductivitySource

Clearing out the clutter is no easy task, but once everyone takes active participation then things can flow much faster. Here are a few things everyone can do, big or small:

1. List all your stuff down

Make an inventory of everything on a person’s desk. This is a good start for determining if there are things that may be disposed of.

2. Identify the most important items

Which of the desk items are frequently used? Prioritize their placement according to need.

3. Put things you want to see daily

Allow room for positive energy to flow. In relation to the sentimental items on each employee’s desk and inspiration for good work, allow everyone to choose a source of inspiration. You can look into how Marie Kondo sorts a desk space to get some ideas.

4. Establish an “office flow”

Create space for where things of the same kind go like an area for supplies, documents, and emergency items. Neil Patel shares some valuable ways to arrange the way a working space should flow.

5. Divide your desk into zones 

You may need a quick reach for your most used items. Keep writing instruments in a cup, documents organized into multi-layered trays, and so on. Remember to limit what’s on the desk to leave more room for easy movement.

How to Declutter Office Space to Increase ProductivitySource

6. Use organization supplies like boxes of different sizes

Segregate items neatly so it’s easier to find things like papers, documents, office supplies, and many more.

7. Hide the wires

It’s easy to make a mess with the abundance of electronic wires. Organize them creatively with alligator clips at the side of the desk to get them flowing in one seamless direction. Check out some more fun ways to organize in this article by Snack Nation.

8. Organize documents 

Don’t let them pile up on your desk. Store them in a designated filing space or recycle them if necessary. 

9. Go paperless

There may be a lot of printed or handwritten documents. Save space and consider adding the data to your computer instead. You’ll free up space and save trees in the process too!

10. Evaluate the relevance of items daily

Look through your desk before you leave and double check if there are documents or materials you can dispose of or bring home.

11. Make it a habit to clean before you go

It may seem like a small thing, but having a clean desk to come back to the next morning makes a difference. Plus, it promotes good habit of cleanliness.

Wrapping Up

An office is more than just a workspace. Employees spend most of their week in this shared area. Not only can its organization affect physical cleanliness, it can affect productivity as well. With that in mind, it’s important to consider how you can maintain a flexible workspace to allow everyone to fully maximize their time and effort at work.

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