If there’s one thing I wish I could maintain better its my desktop. No, not my virtual desktop on my computer, that one is, in fact, surprisingly sparse. In fact at this very moment there are exactly zero items on my laptop desktop. I find it much easier to keep this space uncluttered then the one which lives in my physical world. This got me wondering if an organized desk is actually important.

But I’m a creative genius…

I have always heard a cluttered desk is a sign of creativity. I like to think of myself as creative and therefore believe a messy desk proved to the world the extreme level of my awesomeness. Based on the number of paper piles, writing utensils, and sticky notes littering my desk (along with envelopes, plates, cups, and more) I was clearly the undiscovered creative genius of the decade. But perhaps these are just excuses I used to keep myself from worrying about keeping my desk clean. I decided to do a little digging into what others would suggest are the benefits of a clean desk. I’ll leave them here for you to decide if you agree.

A clean desk demonstrates organization.

Don’t laugh. It’s true, when an office desk is clear of clutter, excess paper, and all the various and sundry tidbits which litter a desktop it demonstrates an individual who is organized. An organized person is someone you can rely on because they have clearly introduced structure and reason into their environment. If someone is reasonable then you can trust them with making logical decisions and choices which will best accomplish the tasks they are given. Cleaning a desk demonstrates a level of organization.

Notice that the title of the article is an organized desk. Not a clean desk, not an empty desk. Organization means you have a methodology and a space free of clutter and randomness. Introducing order and structure can be done without being empty. By the same thought then a clean desk is not necessarily an empty desk. A clean desk merely means organized.

An organized desk shows priorities

If you keep your desk organized then you are automatically keeping yourself in a constant mindset of prioritization. While you organize the papers on your desk you’ll find you think about it and where it belongs in terms of what needs to be done. Sometimes you can quickly place it in the trash and you have one less thing to be concerned about.  When you maintain an organized desk you show dedication to a continued focus on priorities. Your clients, your boss, your employees will all see this very visual representation of your ability to be consistent in managing your priorities. Keeping your desk organized means you value prioritization.

An organized desk helps the environment

If you can keep your desk organized and free of paper you are helping reduce the paper usage in your office. Recycle and remove paper and give the impression that you discourage others from delivering paper to you. Think about it. If someone walks into your office and they see a clean and organized desk free of paper they’ll be much more hesitant to place a paper on it. But if instead they saw a sea of cluttered and jumbled papers pouring over the edge of your desk they’d assume one (or one dozen more) won’t really matter.

Paperless offices are wonderful at this but far too rare. Maybe craft a small sign on the corner of your desk which simply states, “Consider the environment before leaving paper on this desk.”

An organized desk saves you time

Ok, so the above three reasons are great and worthwhile reasons and sure there’s value in each of them. But let’s be honest with each other, none of those reasons are quite compelling enough to make you keep an organized desk. We drink a coffee from a reusable cup to help preserve the environment! But this last reason, this reason right here is the one reason which grabs attention, and forces me to keep my desk spotlessly clean.

We all need more time. There’s never enough time to get everything done that needs to be done in a day and an organized, clean desk gives us more time. You won’t waste time searching through stacks of paper to find the information you need. In fact there have even been studies done about just how much time you lose! The bottom line is simple – an organized desk saves time.

A desktop challenge

There you have it, the single most important reason why an organized desk is important. So for this end of the week wrap-up I’ll leave you with a simple challenge. Organize your desk. Save yourself some time by spending a little time organizing your desk. Then once you’ve realized that you’re not only saving time but you’re also helping the environment, improving your prioritization, and being cleaner and more organized you’ll realize it really is worth it. Don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself. See if your lifestyle and work environment change as a result of an organized desk. Trust me, we will all still know you’re ridiculously creative.