Clutter can seriously damage your job prospects? This may sound far-fetched, but the effects of clutter can be pervasive and could be harming your career or business in ways that you may not have imagined.

De-cluttering has enjoyed a surge of popularity in recent years and the benefits of an uncluttered home life have become more apparent. But these days we often spend even more time at work than at home and so de-cluttering your office environment has become just as important. In fact, I would argue that this is why it is even more vital to make your office a clutter-free zone.

Do You Have a Clutter Problem?

Go to your office and look around. What do you see? Does it look tidy, business-like, streamlined and efficient? Can you find what you are looking for within a few minutes? If not, you may have a problem.

If it looks untidy, disorganised and cluttered, then stand up and say these words out loud: “My name is [insert your name here] and I have a clutter problem!”.

Now sit down and read the rest of this article, as we have much work to do.

The Effects of Clutter

Clutter in the office not only looks messy, but can cause accidents too. Clients are not likely to be impressed if they think they’ve arrived in a junk yard, and Health and Safety would have a fit if they saw your trailing cables and piles of files teetering on top of filing cabinets. There’s very little that is more likely to make your boss think that you are inefficient than if your desk is untidy. On a larger scale, clients rarely think that a business is efficient if the office is untidy.

As a busy professional you don’t have any time to waste. All your activities need to be focused and productive so that your time is managed efficiently. You can’t allow clutter to slow you down. Try and gauge the amount of time you spend looking for things. Pens, keys, papers, your mobile, even your briefcase can all get lost in your clutter.

An often overlooked aspect of clutter is the effect it has upon your mood. If your desk or surroundings are cluttered, then your mind is cluttered too. To be as efficient and effective as you know you can be you need a clear, tidy, uncluttered environment to free up your mind.

What is Office Clutter?

My definition of office clutter is this: things you never use, things you never use, and things you never use.

It really is as simple as that. If you know you will never use something, get rid of it. If you may need it one day, store or archive it. Only keep on your desk or in your office those things that you currently use.

Where to Start

Don’t try and declutter the whole office at once, it would be too demoralizing. Don’t get tempted by your de-cluttering zeal to take on more than you can handle easily. Take it one step at a time. For instance, start with the surface of your desk, then move onto the drawers, then your bookcase, filing cabinet, etc. Remember if you don’t use it regularly, then it is clutter and should be archived or ditched.

Keeping Clutter At Bay

Try and declutter as you go along. For example, if you buy a new phone system don’t store the old one, ditch it. If you’re used to online auctions, try and sell it online, but if you’re not, just give it away. When you unpack boxes of stationery, or other items, don’t keep the empty boxes; flatten and then recycle them.

When you finish a project for a customer, don’t move straight onto the next one; take a few minutes to clear out your files and folders first, thin out the paperwork relating to the project and then archive the material that you do have to keep. (This also applies to information stored on your computer!)

If you update the branding on your letterheads and business cards, don’t store the old stationery. Believe me you won’t use it. Shred and recycle it. How many of you still have stationery with the wrong address on it? And those of you that do (I know you’re out there) ask yourself: why are you keeping it?

Benefits of De-Cluttering

After de-cluttering your office you will gain:

  • space – look at all those empty drawers, files and bookcases
  • time – as you only have things you use around you, you’ll be able to find stuff more quickly
  • better organisation – you can more efficently organise the things you have left after de-cluttering
  • self respect – constantly losing things and missing appointments, has a detrimental effect upon your self-image
  • and the respect of others – your boss will adore you and think you are a credit to the company, because if your desk is tidy you must by definition be incredibly efficient

Imagine the space you will have if you get rid of all the objects you don’t use. No need to order that new filing cabinet or bookcase now, just get rid of the clutter.

Get Started Now!

So what are you waiting for? Start de-cluttering now and rid your career of the dangers of clutter. Reap the benefits in terms of space, time, organisation, self-respect and the respect of others and let your career prospects benefit from a clutter-free future.