Do you remember the last time you saw your desk?

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Cluttered desk

Do you remember the last time you saw your desk?

– If not, then you are probably suffering from deskitis!

Here is an example of a Clean Desk Policy

Britain is in the grip of a bad case of Deskitis – that is Dump Everything Seldom Keep It Tidy – with more than half those questioned (55%) in a new nationwide survey for office products manufacturer Avery admitting they were unable to remember the last time they saw their desk!

Less than a third (30%) said they cleared their desk daily with one in five (20%) doing so very occasionally and one in six (16%) only bothering when the pile threatens to ‘fall off the desk!’

Louisa Smith, marketing communications manager, Avery, stated: “A majority of desk warriors confess that all this clutter was no temporary aberration but a normal part of their working life. Desk-top muddle it seems is not just for Christmas but for life!”

Other key findings include:

The average desk top serves as a repository for a wide range of personal items ranging from teddy bears (14%) and books (13%) to family snaps (38%), nail files (9%) and newspapers or magazines (25%), with the most frequently encountered non-work related item being the desk owner’s favourite mug (68%).

By far the most common source of clutter are acres of papers, files and other documents which accounted for 92% of desk-top space. Such widespread clutter flies in the face of the fact that eight out of ten (82%) readily accept that tidy desks help people work more efficiently – a conclusion challenged by only 3% of office workers.

Only one in ten (9%) used the excuse that once the desk is tidied they can ‘never find anything’ with a mere one in twenty (5%) worrying that a tidy desk might get them branded as ‘anally retentive’ by colleagues!

So why are Brits so bad when it comes to working on a clean, tidy and well ordered desk?

Consumer psychologist Dr David Lewis commented on the findings: “For a start, as the Avery survey discovered, there is little external pressure on them do to so. Eight out of ten (78%) companies have no clean desk policy in place and less than one in a hundred (0.7%) take tidiness into account when awarding a pay rise or putting someone forward for promotion.”

Almost two-thirds (62%) of workers agreed they would have a greater incentive to tidy away paper work if their current filing system was overhauled, with three-quarters (75%) claiming that bright, fresh and funky storage solutions would make filing more fun.

Tidy Desks = Efficient Workers

“Research has clearly shown that a messy desk top reduces efficiency and impairs performance in three key ways. First it leads to wasted time searching for an essential item, and when this is needed urgently the anxiety aroused by its temporary misplacement further undermines concentration and confidence,” added Dr David Lewis.

“Second, being confronted with piles of work to complete not only makes it far harder to stay focused but causes a loss of motivation. Finally, a cluttered desk acts as a significant barrier to the important psychological process of closure. That is finishing off one job before embarking on another – a failure of closure, no matter what the cause, can prove a serious cause of stress,” he concluded.

So how can you “refresh you desk” on a regular basis in order to maintain a high level of performance and motivation? Here are six basic rules to follow:

1. Tidy frequently – the more clutter builds up the harder it becomes to face up to the challenge of imposing order on the desk top.
2. Operate a clean desk policy. It will reap dividends for the company in a very short period of time.
3. Use the circular ‘filing cabinet’ at your feet frequently to get rid of unwanted material. Remember – it’s no sin to bin!
4. If possible, rearrange the physical items on your desk top such as a stapler, pens, diary and filing trays once a week. These small changes will encourage you to view the entire desk top with a fresh eye.
5. Forget the myth that a cluttered desk is OK provided you can remember where everything is. In most cases this simply isn’t true and, even when it is, the amount of memory being wasted on such an easily avoidable chore is prodigious.
6. Don’t worry what others think – never forget that desk-top confusion is nearly always the reflection of a muddled mind!

Source Avery

Here is an example of a Clean Desk Policy


Published On: 22nd Dec 2005

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