Before a new year rolls around, it's important to take time to inventory the past year, reflecting on the old and making room for the new. This is a physical exercise as much as an emotional one. An essential part of making space for new memories and new moments is decluttering your present environment. Getting rid of unwanted items and freshening up your surroundings can positively impact your state of mind as you enter a new year. Plus, there are serious benefits to getting organized.
CNN reports that people "waste time amounting to between six and 12 weeks a year searching for things in their offices and homes." At work, minutes count when you're striving to impress your managers, colleagues, and clients. Wasting time searching for important items and documents certainly does not project a sense of competency or urgency.
Moreover, research shows that "an uncluttered desk and workspace lends itself to more innovative thinking." So if you want to put your best foot forward, particularly when it comes to your career, consider cleaning your workplace before you head out for the holidays. Read on for easy, practical tips to help you freshen up the office before January 1st rolls around.
Make sure you have the right supplies handy before you begin decluttering and organizing. This will eliminate frustration and the urge to give up on your cleaning project before you've even begun. It will also ensure that you're getting rid of items the right way; throwing everything you see in a rubbish bag might be efficient, but it's not responsible. Old documents containing personal or identifying information need to be shredded, some things need to be saved, and other clutter can sometimes be donated or repurposed. Resist the impulse to manically throw items away before taking stock of them.
You'll want all the usual cleaning essentials, plus a few that are designed specifically when tidying the workplace. The list below isn't all-inclusive but should set you up to get started.
- Rubbish and recycling bins
- Storage bins for things that need to be saved or given to a donation centre
- A shredder for documents
- File folders or binders to organize papers
- Hanging file folders (if you have a file cabinet)
- Various organizers such as small, clear containers to fill with supplies you use daily (i.e., paper-clips)
- Labels that you can write on (mailing or shipping labels can work in a pinch)
- Disinfectant wipes or spray
- Keyboard cleaner
- Screen cleaner for your computer, printer, or other technology
Get Rid of Clutter and Junk
Experts recommend taking it a zone or category at a time. If you are going to start with your desk, collect your supplies and focus on cleaning the desk and only the desk. Don't stop until you've thoroughly taken care of that space. Then move to another zone or category, such as the office fridge or your ever-growing piles of papers.
Begin by getting rid of clutter and junk. Think of clutter as things that are usable, but that you don't use. If you're not sure which items fall into this category or you're hesitant about getting rid of too much, think of it this way: "A good way of looking at things is – if you haven't used it for 6 months, then you probably don't need it." Donate or recycle these items, if possible. Toss the rest.
Junk can be thought of as rubbish, such as old holiday cards that you read once and then stashed in the bottom drawer of your desk, as well as actual garbage, such as the entire contents of the office refrigerator (probably) and all those candy wrappers you have strewn around from Halloween. Anything that is junk needs to go in the rubbish bin, pronto. You don't need to look twice at junk before ditching; just do it.
Organize According to the Way You Operate
Once all the clutter and junk has been purged from your desk area or office, it is time to organize. Organizing is a slightly different activity because you're not getting rid of anything, you're simply making everything you need as accessible and aesthetically pleasing as possible.
Professional organizers recommend placing papers and important documents in vertical rather than horizontal spaces. CNN writes, "If you're purging papers, clear those piles from your desk and the floor by placing newly sorted files in a cabinet or an upright vertical file. This way, your eyes can quickly scan and identify what you need at a glance."
Designate what each drawer in your desk will hold. Then, use small plastic organizers (clear ones are the easiest to find things in) to make each drawer as functional as possible. If your top drawer holds everyday supplies, place paper clips in one organizer, staples in another, highlighters and markers in another, and so on. You should be able to find everything you need on a daily basis quickly and effortlessly.
Rearrange Your Furniture
While you can complete this task on your own, it can also be a fun and productive group activity if others in your office are also cleaning before the holidays. Research shows that "more open office layouts encourage instant and dynamic collaboration between employees." If you've noticed that the mood is dampened or productivity at the office has decreased as of late, making this change could be an excellent decision before the new year. You may even "see a more enthusiastic and motivated workforce."
Tackle the Big Tasks
If you thought cleaning out the office refrigerator was a challenge, wait until you try one of these tasks. Cleaning the carpets, bleaching the office kitchen, and washing the windows are some essential chores that must be done if you truly want the office to look and feel fresh for the upcoming year. These kinds of cleaning jobs require more professional supplies, such as a carpet cleaner, and you also likely need to ask for assistance from those you work with. Washing all of the windows isn't really feasible to do by yourself.
Sounding like a whole lot of effort before a much-needed break? Give yourself a gift this year: peace of mind. Hire office cleaning service providers and call it a day. You'll rest much easier knowing you'll return to a sparkling clean office space. And you'll be ready to take on any exciting challenges the new year has in store for you!