‘Tidy desk, tidy mind’ – the old adage commonly cited in office environments that frowns upon the over-enthusiastic use of post-its, personal photographs sellotaped to every available surface and impressive hoards of paperclips, pens (including those without ink) and elastic bands… When you run your own business or work remotely, it’s easy to rebel against these constraints and let your desk take on a personality and life of its own beneath the piles of paperwork and stationery, but I have to admit that I really do feel better when my desk is clear and tidy, and there are a few reasons why:
1.) Finding stuff – The main reason for having some kind of desk-based filing system is to help making finding stuff as quick and stress-free as possible. No-one wants to break a sweat looking for a functioning pen 5 minutes before an important customer call, so try to give everything you need a safe and memorable dedicated space!
2.) Being more environmentally minded – Paper, paper everywhere! It’s all too easy to have a desk covered in mountains of paper if you are a voracious note taker, but it’s not great for the environment. Why not collect and re-use paper with non-sensitive handwritten or printed notes to create DIY notepads rather than using fresh paper, or try using digital ‘to-do lists’ or note-taking apps to reduce your paper waste and associated clutter? It could help save a few trees here and there.
3.) GDPR – piles of paper featuring handwritten or printed customer details that include personal information, particularly sensitive information, aren’t particularly compatible with the GDPR legislation. If you do need to keep paper copies of customer information, make sure that they are safely and appropriately secured within your office and consider whether moving the information across to a digital database or CRM could be a better idea in the long term.
4.) The psychological boost of some new stationery – Rather than hoarding stationery, I try to keep a sensible amount in my office (i.e. a pack of 20 pens, a couple of notebooks, etc.) and don’t replenish my supply until I have exhausted my stock. This helps to save me from having 20 notepads on the go at any one time, or from having hundreds of pens laying about but none that work! Although I know I’m probably in the minority here, I do feel some joy at the prospect of being able to re-stock my stationery supplies every few months – 30 mins of stationery shopping evokes feelings of that new school year ‘fresh start’ and can help lift the spirits momentarily when you’ve got a lot of complicated and challenging customer work on the go.
5.) To create a professional backdrop for business calls – I’m not saying that your office needs to be ultra sleek and modern with no clutter and personality, indeed, I love a novelty inspirational print as much as the next person! I simply mean clearing a decent space on your desk prior to video calls so that empty food containers and hot drinks aren’t an obstacle for gesturing on a video call, as spilling hot tea over your keyboard mid-call is distracting for everyone involved!
Do you prefer a tidy and organised office or a chaotic creative haven? I’d love to hear your thoughts!