Did you know that January 9th is National Clean Off Your Desk Day? While this may be a made up holiday, why not take today as an opportunity to get more organized? After all, the beginning of the year is a great time to clean up and declutter. Follow these simple ideas and you’ll be on your way to less stress and increased productivity!

Tips for Cleaning Up Your Physical Workspace

Since it’s National Clean Off Your Desk Day, let’s start with your desk!

  • Sort. Take the piles of paper that are on your desk or in your office and organize them into three groups: recycle/shred, file/save, and need attention. After you’ve sorted, get rid of the trash, file away important paperwork, and give attention to those other items right away.
  • Declutter. A general rule of thumb when organizing anything from your desk to your closet is that if you haven’t used something in the past three to six months, chances are you won’t use it again. Sort your “stuff” into three groups: throw away, save/store, and donate.
  • Clean. Did you know that researchers have found that the average desk harbors 400 times more bacteria than average toilet seat? That’s pretty scary! Now that you can see your desk again, grab those anti-bacterial wipes and clean off your desk, computer keyboard and mouse. (Given the above statistic, you might want to make this a part of your weekly routine.)

Tips to Clean Up Your Virtual Workspace

Your “desk” isn’t just your physical workspace, it’s your virtual workspace as well. Now we have more virtual clutter than ever before—and the best example of that clutter is hiding in your email inbox. Follow these tips to organize your personal and work email for good:

  • Delete. Go through your inbox and folders and get rid of all of your old emails that you don’t need anymore. Still have mail from 2007? Can them! Only keep current emails and items that you haven’t responded to yet. (What about that beautiful note you received from a parent? Store it in a “Save” folder, or print it out for safekeeping!)
  • Unsubscribe. Remove yourself from lists of companies or ads that you aren’t engaged with. By law, all emails come with an unsubscribe button at the bottom. Take the few extra seconds to unsubscribe before you delete the message. You’ll save time and streamline your inbox to only receive messages from those companies that you really want to hear from.
  • Take your work email account off of your phone. Email on your phone is a great way to check what is coming it. However, it’s a lousy way to respond. Set aside time each morning or afternoon at work when you are truly present to check and respond to your emails.
  • Get your inbox down to zero messages every day. Yes, you read that correctly, zero, nada, zilch! When you check your email, attend to the messages that you can reply to first or that do not require extra time, thought, or research. Then, for the other messages, decide on a system that works for you. You may decide to create a few folders (e.g. “To Do This Week” or “To Read Later”) which will prompt you to take action at a later date or time. As for all other really important emails, such as receipts or links to training documents, you can place them in a save folder (as long as they do not require further action).

Bonus Tip for Teachers:

Take National Clean Your Desk Day as an opportunity to help your students get organized. Chances are that not every student in your class is innately neat and tidy. Give students time at the end of the day to clean out and organize their desks or lockers. If you want to take the lesson beyond, share ideas and tips to help your students organize their work, schedule and physical space. Helping your students adopt organizational skills is helpful for them in your classroom and beyond.

Do you have any helpful organizational tips or advice for our community of educators? If so, please share your ideas in our comments section below. 

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