Creating a Better Professional You, Part 1: Dealing With a Dirty Desk

Will 2017 be your year?

If you’ve committed yourself to personal development and excellence, you’re already on track to accomplish things in your professional life that you’ve always wanted to. However, you’re setting yourself up for failure if you think simply saying or writing a resolution will make it happen. You need a plan to go with your proclamation.

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We’ve devoted a series of four blog posts to unearthing the practical principles you can use in the workplace to get ahead, build relationships and stand out as opposed to sticking out. We want you to break the self-imposed ceiling you have and ask for the raise you deserve and do the excellent work you know you can do.

Meeting those expectations is a matter of the practical and the mental. If you want to impress your boss, start with your workspace. Is it clean and organized, or is it regularly mistaken for a natural-disaster site? Do you dress with intentionality, or is your office outfit the leftovers of a beleaguered closet?

From a mental standpoint, what do you do when you face adversity at work? Crumble, or rise up? What goes on in your mind has a lot to do with how these pressure-packed scenarios play out. Do you take time every day to process the day ahead, or are you purely reacting to the unexpected?

As you can see, the path to personal and professional development takes on several difference aspects at multiple levels.

Your Desk Says Everything About Who You Are

Let’s be honest – messy desks used to be frowned upon, and even though they still carry an air of poor taste, creative types have convinced us that a messy desk is part of the creative process.

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Creative or not, if you’re looking to get ahead in your job this year, you need to change what your desk says about you. Clutter equals disorganize and irresponsible. Clean equals reliable and trustworthy.

Plan Out Your Cleaning Schedule

Your first step is to cleanliness is to create a plan for cleaning your desk every week. Just like your resolution to get ahead, a resolution to have a clean desk doesn’t happen on its own. You need a plan.

The simplest solution is to spend five minutes after work doing a quick clean Monday through Thursday, then do a deeper clean on Friday before you head home for the weekend.

Clorox and 3M Are Your Best Friends

Keep a tube of Clorox cleaning wipes handy to tidy up any spills or stains that befall your desk during working hours, and for the deep clean on Friday. 3M has a great desk cleaner that works on a variety of surfaces. The quicker you clean up stains, the better.

The longer any liquid or sauce stays on your desk, the more time it has to collect dust and other embarrassing matter that tells passing co-workers you’re sloppy and absent-minded. In other words, your reputation suffers.

You Trash Can is a Mess Savior

Also, make sure your trash can is within reach of where you sit. There aren’t any stats out there on how much of the stuff on your desk is trash, but we’re guessing it would be around 50%. A trash can within arm’s length means you can throw something away as soon as your done with it.

This little trick will cut down on the clutter and give your arms and hands some room to breathe. Not only that, less clutter on your desk means there’s less of a chance you’ll knock over a cup or bottle and spill liquid on your keyboard.

What Will Your Desk Say About You?

You may not be at work 24 hours a day, but your desk is. If you cut out early to pick up the kids from school, your desk will still be at work perpetuating a narrative about your attention to detail and your reliability.

You have the ability to change this narrative, but it will take planning. Pick out specific daily times for light cleaning, and then designate a day (preferably Friday) when you can do a deep clean. It’s not fun staying a few minutes after work to tidy up, but you get a two-fold reward out of it.

First, you get to return from work on Monday with a sparkling clean desk, which can do wonders for you as you start the week anew. Second, your desk is promoting your best qualities while you’re at home with your family or friends.

When your boss passes by and happens to take a look at your workspace, she’ll most certainly be pleased, and that never hurts.

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