I'm the sort of person who could never keep my desk tidy. There were always piles of paper, past-lunches post-it notes, a staplers or two, and books strewn across my workspace.
I stared jealously at some of my colleagues and friends who seemed to effortlessly breeze in and out of the office without leaving so much as a biro on their desk. For a long time, I had concluded that I was "Just not a tidy person" and never would be.
But, I was wrong. I later discovered that I could be a tidy person. But to get there I had to move one step at a time.
So to achieve this uber tidyness, I acted on a simple piece of advice. Here it is:
Don't try to keep you whole office tidy. Pick one small area, and focus on keeping it clear at all times.
Don't bite off more than you can chew. Just pick a small area of space and take control. This could be one part of your desk if you are open plan. An area the size of an A4 page. If you have an office, how about the spare table in the corner? Anywhere will do, but ideally it will be a place that you can see and touch from where you sit.
Follow this piece of advice and things start to happen:
First, whenever you feel out of control or manic at work, look at your tidy space. This alone is often enough to clear your mind for a moment - you are in control of this space.
Second, you realise that this kind of discipline (and it is a discipline) is achievable. Actually, if you can achieve this simple objective how many more simple steps can you take in making your work life more organised and controlled.
Third, people might start to comment on your new found control. This is a really visible way to change how people in the office perceive you. You could even try telling some people what you are trying to do and ask them to point out to you if they spot your tidy space messy. This adds to the fun as you try to outsmart them, and maybe they'll adopt the practice too.
Lastly, you might find that that small tidy area begins to grow as you tend it and take pride in it. Next thing you know, you've started tidying that shelf above your desk too. Then the area by the printer. Before for you know it, your whole desk may be tidy and in control.
Having a tidy space helped me get control of my work life. You can adopt it as part of a continuous improvement in your approach to work.
It worked for me - give it a try and let me know if it works for you too?