It might seem like an unusual topic but the way you organize your workspace may say more about your personality than you think. Look around at yours right now. Is it perfectly neat or does it have a more “lived-in” look? Do you display personal mementos? Or prefer plain walls? Do you hang professional certificates and awards? Or have you designated a drawer for items of organizational recognition?
Whether you share cubicle space, work remotely from a corner of your home or are tucked inside a private office with a door, your work space paints a picture of your personality and working style. To make sure your desk is saying what you want it to say about you, we will share some ideas for organizing and personalizing your space:
Communicate Power and Efficiency with a Clean Workspace
If you are interested in communicating power and having command of your workload, keep your space open and streamlined.
Declutter your desk by getting rid of things you don’t need. Go paperless if possible; scan important documents and file them electronically on your desktop. Pick one spot for digital devices, cords, and chargers.
Keep in mind some clutter is virtual, like the clutter of icons on your desktop. Having too many icons may make it difficult to find things quickly and can even slow down your computer. De-clutter your desktop frequently.
Encourage Openness by Sharing Your Friendly and Unique Flair
There are a couple of ways to add some personality to your workspace and express to your colleagues that you are an outgoing and interesting person with a happy life inside and outside of work. For example:
1. Pick the perfect wall calendar: A wall calendar makes it easy to reference dates and double-check commitments without always having to pick up your smart phone. Pick something that reflects your interests or aesthetics. Run a search on Etsy, check out a local stationary store, visit your favorite museum’s gift shop, or even make your own on Snapfish (or other photo website) with pictures from your phone or social media accounts.
2. Display 3-5 photos: Of course, you don’t want to clutter your desk with pictures from college or a wild summer barbeque, but just a few photos of a beloved pet, family members, or a scene from a recent vacation are great conversation-starters and can make you feel happy throughout the day.
3. Curate a small collection of your favorite things: If you love poetry books or collect Star Wars memorabilia, displaying just a few of those items in your office communicates that you have rich interests and a unique personality.
Establish Stability and Harmony
With their dreary corners and humming equipment, offices can feel at once hectic and stale. To brighten things up and balance the environment, add simple flourishes from the Chinese study of dynamic energy flow by adding a bit of Feng Shui:
1. Air-purifying plants: Low-maintenance is a must. Try cacti, spider plants, jade, or peace lilies, which do not require full-sun or daily watering.
2. Ion-neutralizing Himalayan salt rock: Believed to counteract positive ions produced by your computer and smart phone, many are outfitted with small lights that emit a peaceful glow.
3. Happy family photos: Communicate that you are a family-oriented person who treasures and draws support from your loved ones. Curate them into nice frames in a single spot.
4. Small mirror behind your desk: Ideally, your desk should face the door so that you see everyone who passes or enters. If that furniture layout is not possible, place a small mirror next to your computer so that you can see behind you, eliminating any feelings of uneasiness.
5. Desk lamp: natural light is the best alternative to Narsh fluorescent lighting in an office, but a small task lamp also produces a calming light.
Demonstrate that You Are Organized and On Top of Details
There is more to being “on top” of your projects than simply having completed them. Being able to communicate to your supervisor where your projects are in the process and reporting critical details will make you feel more confident about your workload and sound competent to your team leaders. For this reason, having an inbox and an outbox is not enough to encapsulate the middle of projects.
Engineer a three-step routine at your desk that will make it easy for you to touch each project on your plate daily and report back on them concisely:
1. File: Create a master list for each project, either as a hanging file or electronic list or both. In it, take the time to break your project into a series of smaller tasks. It will make your work seem less overwhelming but also give you the freedom to take on easier tasks on already busy days.
2. Board: You can hang a simple wipe-off board or download an online task board like Trello, to color-code tasks according to priority level and move them through the process from “start” to “submitted.”
3. Tray: Take a day, weekly or bi-weekly to review progress against the project plan. Is the deadline still manageable? Will you have enough resources? Flag any issues and place them in a tray on your desk so that you remember to raise them with your supervisor or team leader.
Taking the time to situate your desk will demonstrate competence in your job but can also make you feel more content and satisfied while you’re sitting there!
Ask a Mentor!
Your mentor has seen a lot of desks in their professional lifetime. Talk to them about what they like to see and what irks them. Here are some possible questions you might ask:
- Who has the neatest office space you can think of? What stands out most about it?
- What are the challenges you face when trying to feel at home and satisfied with your own office space?
- Do you have any personal items hanging in your office? Organizational certificates?
- What is an absolute must for you to feel productive when sitting at your desk?
- What is your pet peeve when you look into someone else’s office?