Hoarding vs. Being Organized at Work

Published: Oct 27, 2011

By Angela Rose, BioSpace.com

Look at your workspace. What do you see? Piles of papers? Mountains of memos? Bulletin boards of bedlam? If so, you are not alone. A recent survey found that 33 percent of professionals categorize themselves as office hoarders. Unfortunately, the same survey found that 28 percent of employers are less likely to promote an employee who has a messy workspace, whether because the individual in question appears disorganized (27 percent) or just plain messy (16 percent).

The good news is you don’t have to be forever known as a Hoarding Harriet or Grungy Gary. Just pick your poison and apply the appropriate antidote below.

Poison: Stacks of paper
Antidote: Shove them in a drawer

Shove them neatly, of course. The survey found that 38 percent of professionals admit that at least 50 percent of their desks are covered with paperwork. Supervisors equate a cluttered desk with a cluttered mind, so clear it off. Recycle papers pertaining to old projects. Organize those pertaining to current projects by placing them in file folders. Keep only one file folder on your desk at a time. Place the rest in a drawer.

Poison: Piles of files
Antidote: Have a bonfire

Well, maybe not. Unless you work for the fire department, it may be better to make time to file those piles or there could be an increase in mysterious office fires. Thirty-six percent of professionals surveyed said they had paper files that were more than a year old. Recycle anything you no longer need, and then file the rest. You may actually find yourself with space to place your coffee cup again.

Poison: Masses of magazines
Antidote: Cancel your subscriptions

Do you read industry publications to stay current on the latest news? Once you’re done reading, recycle them. If there happens to be a bit of information you cannot live without, cut it out. Even better, scan it and store the info digitally. Do you subscribe to industry publications you never read? Cancel your subscriptions. Refuse to feel guilty about it.

Poison: Walls of clippings
Antidote: Periodic purging

If you have a bulletin board dripping in clippings, purge it. Throw away anything no longer relevant. You’ve read that comic sixteen times. Is it really still funny? That appointment reminder is from 2009. Do you plan to travel back in time? Enter information from business cards collected over the years into your database program or email contacts. Throw the actual business cards away. Do this every month.

Poison: Eons of emails
Antidote: Just hit delete

With a few exceptions, most emails can be deleted after you’ve read them. It may be wise to save emails from your boss pertaining to your performance (praise like that comes in handy at review time) and those from coworkers with whom you’re partnered on a project. Client emails may also be important, at least for a month or two. If you’re uncomfortable deleting, learn how to archive old email correspondence.

Once you’ve put a halt on your hoarding, it should take only a few minutes at the end of each day to keep your organizational efforts on track. Just determine what you need to work on the next morning and arrange your desk accordingly. Put everything else away and leave the office knowing you are already more promotable.

About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for BioSpace.com.

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