Workplace disorder has its roots in a very familiar place. Your desk. Now a messy desk all on its own does not create chaos, nor is a messy desk a sure sign someone isn’t productive or successful. But, desktop clutter has a way of desensitizing your sense of organization. It reinforces the bad habit of having to search for what you need, and a “digging through the weeds” type routine. And desk disarray can lead to a bigger problem: clutter creep.
Clutter is a sneaky creature. It has a way of creeping and spreading into other areas. Before you know it, if you’re not careful, clutter has crawled into your projects, communications, processes and relationships at work to prevent you from getting work done in simple, effective and organized ways.
Want to bring order to your workplace? Start with merely cleaning up your desk. You might not be able to change things as you like at work, but you are in control of your desk. After all, that messy desk could be holding you back, generating clutter that spreads further than you realize, and slowing your progress. Decluttering it can become a metaphor for clearing your brain and your life. It can indicate a new start and readiness to change. It's a shot of empowerment and motivation right at your fingertips.
Here are 8 places where you can create order instead of spreading clutter:
Work Performance – Use technology to do things faster and more efficiently, especially redundant tasks. Not only will it maximize your time, it leaves more time to do new things, think, create fresh ideas and develop relationships at work. Learn to “think online” when you need solutions vs. doing things manually.
Teams – Keep teams small. Large teams are unwieldy. With smaller teams, you gain speed, agility and simplicity. That translates into lower overhead and increased productivity.
Processes – Are there too many steps involved? Is it taking too long to get something done and if so, what can be eliminated, consolidated or changed? Are all steps necessary and is it overcomplicated? View every activity as a chance to learn, refine and streamline your process. A streamlined process speeds up progress. Time and energy are valuable resources. Crafting a great product or providing a great service always takes time, but a good process saves time and energizes your workforce.
Communication– In the movie comedy “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” an exasperated Neal jokingly tells Dell, “When you are telling these stories, here’s a good idea. Have a POINT! It makes it so much more interesting for the listener.” An interested listener is an engaged listener, and an interesting story has a meaning and a purpose. Don’t let your words get in the way of your meaning. Good communication is clear, direct, and gets to the point as quickly as possible. Good follow up questions will help you know if people got the point.
Policies – Policies should be easy for employees to read and understand. They should be clear and transparent, with everything out in the open and nothing hidden. Work with your legal counsel to simplify language. Powerful policies don’t also have to be hard to understand. Ensure all levels of employees can understand what you give them BEFORE they sign off on it.
Company culture – Leniency, lack of consistency and clarity in your culture can breed a “what’s the point” attitude among employees. Perhaps you have too many acceptable practices that may be countering each other. For example: some departments dress casual, others have more formal guidelines; lateness is forgiven with some and not with others. The entire company should be following and adhering to the same guidelines, barring special situations as needed. Otherwise, you send mixed messages that can create misunderstanding and divisiveness.
Work relationships – Clear the air. In her book “Fierce Conversations” Susan Scott recommends conversations in which we come out from behind ourselves and make it real. “Fierce conversations are about moral courage, clear requests, and taking action” she writes. If you are a leader, accomplishing goals depends in large part on making every conversation you have as real as possible. Are there work relationships that are difficult or disconnects that perhaps can be put back on track?
Work goals – Get clear on what you need to do and what you’d like to do. Where are you heading? Are your employees clear on their roles so they know how their contributions are helping to reach company goals?
As we approach the new year, consider starting it off with the simple task of cleaning up your desk. It’s surprisingly “doable”, unlike many resolutions. Go ahead, toss all those pens that are out of ink and the array of scattered post-it’s that have lost their sense of purpose, and see what happens next. Wishing you all the best for a decluttered 2017!
What will you get rid of first?