Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Time To Tidy Your Work Area!

Some cleaning is more difficult than others.Keeping my promise!

Last year I said I would make a point of reminding people to tidy their work areas now and then.  Many people commented that it would help them to be goaded a bit about cleaning up their desks, cubicles and offices.  So, I’ve decided to follow through on that half-joking promise.

Limit your time for this. It shouldn’t be a leisurely, all morning task that everyone sees you doing, as though you have nothing else to do. Sprint through it and get it done quickly.

1.  Pick up and remove stuff and things: Get a box, box lid or big envelope and collect everything in your work area that could be redistributed.  The most common items that junk up desk tops and drawers:

*Extra pads of sticky notes (you don’t need more than one or  two.); Extra legal pads;  Extra everything else you have grabbed from the supply area because it was there.  For example, do you need five hundred paper clips? Could you get by with a hundred or less in a smaller container tucked in a drawer? Do you use them at all?
*Items you borrowed and didn’t return.
*Books and magazines that should be on shelves, tossed or given to others.

2. Do something purposeful with paper. Pick up every piece of paper and decide it if you must save it or if it can be thrown away. If you think you must save itfind a place for it right now. Don’t put it back on your desk with the idea that you’ll do something with it later. (The one exception: If you think you will have many things to scan or file you can put those in an envelope for handing in a batch.)

3. Wash off don’t just dust off.  Remove everything that is left and wash off your desk top and all the solid items on it.  Consider keeping a container of antibacterial wipes for this purpose, so you don’t have to get a cloth and go to a sink.

4. Wipe off electronic items.  Wipe off your computer, especially the part that visitors see (often the back or sides of the monitor). Wipe off other technological items–Phone, printer, etc.

5.  Tidy up. Straighten up things on shelves and wipe off objects you display there.  Do you still want those items on display?  At least once every couple of months (more often if needed) wipe off the tops of books.  If you really want a nice looking area, use furniture spray or cloths to polish and shine even laminated surfaces. Smells good too!

6. Remove posted items. Take a look at everything you have posted or stuck to walls or magnetic boards and remove outdated or unnecessary things. Does that motivational quote still catch your attention often or have you stopped seeing it mentally? Is that faded reminder still needed or do you have the procedure memorized now?

7.  Clean everything else that is left, even if it looks basically OK. There is bound to be dust on items and the extra cleaning will make things look and smell fresh.

8. Stand at the edge of your work space and look at it with the eyes of a visitor.  Does it look as though you could do good quality work? Does anything look out of place, inappropriate or discordant with your work and the professional image you want to portray?

9.  Put supplies away.  Put away your clean-up items and, if possible, empty the trash can into a larger one away from your area–or at least put the plastic liner bag where it isn’t visible and replace it with a clean one.  You want your area to look as though you keep it tidy, not as though you just finished a Herculean task and are left with a trash can that is stuffed and overflowing

10. Get back to work. Now your mind should be a bit more clear and you can know your work area represents you more positively to others. (And no, you won’t have trouble finding anything. Your work space isn’t that big!)

Have a good work day!

January 22nd, 2010 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 5 comments


  1. Thanks for reminding me! I tidied up everything the first thing tonight and now I feel a lot better. Really!! 🙂

    Comment by denisek | January 23, 2010

  2. This is the way it always happens. Denise got to work and read about cleaning her office so she went at it. She must have written to you by midnight last night. Then when I came in this morning she made me clean mine too. Thanks a lot. Now I can see what I’m doing and I don’t have any excuses for losing things! Warn me next time.

    Comment by Mike | January 24, 2010

  3. Tina says: I laughed at laughed at you two, Mike and Denise! I think it’s a great working partnership! T.

    Comment by TLR | January 24, 2010

  4. Good reminders. Thanks! I posted this for all of us. Now I have to remember to take it down after a few weeks. LOL

    Comment by R.T. | February 10, 2010

  5. Tina says: Thank YOU for posting it, R.T. I hope it is helpful. One thing you can do with articles or announcements you want to keep posted longer is to take it down and recopy or reprint to freshen it, maybe on a different color of paper, then repost after a week or so. That also helps reduce the problem of people failing to “see” something that has been there for awhile.

    I sent you an email as well. It’s good to have you visiting the site!

    Comment by TLR | February 13, 2010

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