Trouble Keeping Your Desk Clean?

“Do you have trouble keeping your desk clean!?” I asked that question at a recent conference in South Carolina, and 80 percent of the people in the room raised their hands. Seems we cluttered-desk folks are not alone!

When I first made the decision to systemize our company in 1994, one of my big issues was…How do I just keep my desk clean? I realized that I couldn’t ask people to keep THEIR work stations clean and neat, without me setting the bar.

So I started taking notice and interest in other peoples desks. I asked those who had CLEAN desks how they kept it that way—you know, trying to get some pointers. I even read a book called “File, Don’t Pile.”

I made this a big deal, because it was important for me to get this right. For those who naturally keep a clean desk, you’re probably asking, “What’s all the fuss?”

My personal desk wasn’t just piles of paper; let’s just say it overfloweth on all sides and right on across the floor. It was a poor man’s Niagara of precarious notes, purchase orders and bills, even checks to be signed (if I could find them). Not to mention, parts of things to be fixed or ordered and tools and other items I hadn’t taken time to put back (if they even had a place to go). And somewhere in the pile was a list of ideas on how to IMPROVE my operation! Hmm!

My first attempt to improve my work area had very disappointing results. I came in on a Saturday and spent the whole day cleaning my office and desk. Of course, “clean” is subject to one’s personal concept of that state, and my work area looked great to me for…well, about two days. By Tuesday, it looked like the target of a Scud missile and I was back to square one.

Philip Beyer, founder/president of Beyer Printing and Ebiz Products LLC in Nashville, TN, is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant, author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business," and an InterTech Award recipient for the design and development of System100™ business process management software. Philip speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses.
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