Arrow Staffing’s Guide to Spring Cleaning Your Workspace
Do you look forward to spring cleaning? Probably not, but you certainly look forward to how nice everything looks afterward. Funnily enough, the origin of the term “spring cleaning is uncertain.” Researchers have traced the practice to Iranian, Chinese, and Jewish traditions of cleansing the home before a new year begins in the spring.
The American origin is a little different, with the origins of the practice stemming from the weather. March is warm enough to open windows to remove dust, but not warm enough for insects to fly in. Most homes would have stopped burning coal by March as well, so soot could be removed from the home.
Even with modern cleaning devices, spring cleaning is still a tradition. Most people stay in more during the winter, allowing clutter to build up; and the unpleasant weather drains our motivation to clean. So when temperatures rise and the sun returns, it’s the perfect time to spruce up our spaces.
Spring cleaning doesn’t just make your home look better, it has been shown to improve mental and physical health. A clean space can strengthen your immune system, reduce stress, and even help you breathe better! “Dust and pet dander are powerful asthma triggers, especially in children”, says Jennifer McDonnell, MD, of Rush University Medical Center.
Tidying up your workspace has additional benefits. It can boost productivity, as a study by OfficeMax found. It can also improve your relationship with your coworkers. 57 percent of Americans admit to judging their coworkers based on how clean or dirty they keep their workspace.
For many Americans, workspaces have looked different this year. The number of people working from home has doubled, and many offices have adapted partial attendance schedules to limit the number of people in the building. While some industries have fully returned to work (and some industries like healthcare never left), many employees are still working from their desks-or kitchen tables or beds.
Even those working in a shared space may find themselves more desk-bound than usual. Some companies have limited meetings and asked employees to eat at their desks to maintain current health guidelines. Even France, which used to have laws prohibiting employees from eating at their desks, now requires it!
With all these factors, it’s not unusual to have a messier working space than usual. But if your office is in in your living room, you benefit even more from a clean workspace.
Even when you know all these benefits, it can be a challenge to tackle your workspace. We’ve created this handy guide to help you get clean (and stay clean)!
If Your Desk is a Multi-Purpose Space
For those of you who work remotely, your workspace might serve as a multi-purpose space. People use everything from a crafting table to a coffee table to a washing machine for their makeshift desk. Maybe the desk space is shared by multiple people in a household. While this utilitarian approach is practical, it can result in a lot of clutter. Start your cleaning process by evaluating your space. Is it ergonomic? Can you easily access everything you need for work? If not, start paring down your workspace into just the essentials. You can use a small storage cart in place of a filing cabinet. Label the drawers with different activities or family member’s names to prevent mix-ups.
If You Snack at Your Desk
For those of you that love to eat a snack or breakfast, or lunch at your desk, it’s time to do more than just a quick crumb sweep. Use cleaning wipes to clear off all surfaces, then use a can of compressed air to remove all the hidden crumbs and dust from your keyboard. You can also adopt a new habit of utilizing a reusable cloth to make a placemat at work, preventing future spills and messes.
If You Have a Cluttered Desk
There’s nothing wrong with having a lot of office supplies. But if you don’t have any free space on your desk, or you can’t move a paper stack without knocking a pen cup and a family photo over, you might want to move in a more minimalist direction. To determine what is and what isn’t essential, try this strategy out.
- Place all items on one side of the workspace.
- Every time you pick up or use an object, move it to the opposite side of the desk.
- At the end of the day, you will have one pile of frequently used items and one pile of sporadic use items. Move the sporadic use items off your immediate workspace.
If your filing system is non-existent
It’s amazing how quickly papers can accumulate. One busy week and boom, a pile of loose papers. Spring Cleaning is the perfect time to organize the pile, and then set up a system to prevent future piles. Recycle or shred the papers you don’t need or digitize others if an option. Then, make folders based on your work needs. Separate papers in a way that makes sense to you, such as by clients, or by project status, or by yearly timeline. Keep your categories broad unless you prefer a complex folder system. If you can’t easily sort your paper, you might end up with yet another pile on your desk.
If Your Mess is Digital
Maybe your physical space is spotless…but how’s your inbox? Do you have dozens (or even hundreds) of unread messages? Can you easily find past conversations or are they buried in your catalog? If you view your inbox as a challenge and not a tool, it might be time to do a digital deep-clean. An easy way to reduce clutter in your inbox is to unsubscribe from email lists. Some organizations will send email promotions or newsletters on a daily basis, beyond what the average person can keep up with. If you haven’t opened an email newsletter in months, unsubscribe or filter the sender for a cleaner email experience.
Just as you can use folders to organize physical documents, you can use digital folders to streamline your email. Make the folders as broad or as narrow as you prefer. The goal of creating an email system is for it to become a habit, not a source of stress. Your follow-through is more important than your aspirations when it comes to cleaning.
If you find your inbox overwhelming, but don’t want to set up a folder system, you can utilize the archive function to quickly move emails out of your inbox, while still maintaining easy access to the messages.
Whether you love spring cleaning or dread it, take the time to spruce up your workspace. You’ll enjoy the health and social benefits of a clean workspace, and new organization techniques can help improve your work output and personal stress.