Why a Clean Workspace is Important – Lessons from a Clutter Story

Read an interesting lessons learned account that vividly illustrates why a clean workspace is important. Meet Desmond, the business owner of a small button supply enterprise with shops in four provinces.

This could easily make you believe that the business must be doing well, but this one-day of happenings will make you think otherwise by the end of this article.

Desmond’s experience weaves a compelling narrative around the significance of an organized environment and the lessons that can be learned from not doing so.

Why is it Important to Keep a Clean Workspace?

While not entirely original, and slightly exaggerated, Desmond’s story is a captivating testament to the key role a clean workspace plays in our daily lives.

The story is peppered with some additional unexpected twists from other known clients that make it a story worth sharing.

Desmond was just an ordinary hard working business owner and manager, but unfortunately, his office resembled a riot act! His workspace was a sight to behold.

There were papers, folders, and assorted items (empty coffee mugs and disposable cups, beverage cans, empty and semi-full water bottles, and other miscellaneous items) scattered from one end to the other, such that many employees did not like coming into his office.

Why he chose to keep the office in this state was a million dollar question, but whenever he was asked why, he promptly responded that he knew where everything was and did not want things moved out of place. Really!

He always said he would tidy up when he had a bit of time, which of course rarely happened.

The “To – Do” List at the Beginning of the Day

One Monday morning Desmond came into his office with two important items he already had in his head as being the top priority items for his to-do list-which included both personal and work related tasks.

His first task was to pay his homeowners insurance, which he thought was almost due, but Desmond could not quite remember where he had stashed his bills and reminders. He ransacked the office, racking his brain and tearing apart piles of clutter, but to no avail.

Over one hour later, with a deep sense of frustration, he decided to postpone the task, hoping that he would find them among his clutter at home later that evening.

He moved on to the next priority item which was settling his car payment. While he usually paid his bills online, he still needed the paper bill to get the account number, and once again he could not find the bill. He searched high and low with no luck.

He wondered why he had not written down the account number on a sticky note, but then he suddenly remembered that he had done so. Of course there was no chance of finding this sticky note among the pile of clutter!

Had he maintained a well-organized desk-top filing system, he would have quickly found the required documents.

Another forty-five minutes later, he had no choice but to defer the car payment task so that he could actually get down to his list of business-related tasks. Furthermore, there were some employees waiting to see him…..

Man sitting at a desk in a very cluttered workspace
Man sitting at a desk in a very cluttered workspace

The Missing Report

Desmond recalled from his to-do list (retained in his head) that he had a report that was due that morning, He had hoped to quickly make his bill payments before finishing off the report.

To his dismay, the almost completed report that he had neatly placed in a yellow folder on his desk the previous evening was now nowhere to be seen.

He could not afford not to find this folder because it also contained hard copies of data he had used to create the report – most of which had taken him hours to source for and retrieve. He returned back to another search exercise, but try as he may, he could not find the folder.

A very unhappy Desmond resigned himself to redo the entire report so he could meet the deadline, knowing that he would have to reschedule the budget meeting he planned for immediately after the lunch hour.

If Desmond were a magician, he could have seen that the folder had tumbled to the floor during his frenzied search for his homeowner insurance and car payments bills.

It was now trapped between the desk and the wall, possibly never to be discovered unless the desk was removed.

A Near – Miss Safety Incident

The day went further downhill when Desmond tripped over a stack of binders near his office door which had been dislodged the the early morning search on his way to the bathroom, banging his head against the corner of the desk.

With blood gushing from the cut spilling on papers, Desmond knew that it was time to call it a day.

Missed Important Phone Call – Why a Clean Workspace is Important

He ventured out to the parking lot to retrieve his car. only, there was one problem—where on earth had his car vanished to? He returned to the office where the receptionist informed him that a tow truck had removed his car half an hour earlier.

It had been repossessed due to his missed car payment! Desmond blamed his luck. Had he not lost the bill in the office clutter, this catastrophe might have been averted. He phoned a friend for a ride home, fuming all the way.

After the chaos in his office and the repossession of his car, Desmond decided to take a walk outside to clear his head. He had forgotten that an important business call was scheduled for that morning.

As he strolled around the office building, his phone rang incessantly.

By the time he returned to his desk, he saw the missed call notifications and listened to a voicemail from a potential client. The client had been interested in Desmond’s proposal and wanted to discuss it immediately.

Unfortunately, Desmond had missed the call, and when he attempted to return it, the client was already engaged with a competitor. His disorganized day had cost him a potentially lucrative deal.

Missing Passport

Passport on wooden tiled floor - Why a Clean Workspace is Important
Passport on wooden tiled floor

Desmond’s day went from bad to worse when he remembered that he had an upcoming international business trip he had to leave for on Friday. With a sinking heart he knew that he He needed to locate his passport, which he usually stored in a drawer in his his office.

With the current state of his office, he knew that finding the passport would be tan arduous task. While he waited the arrival of his friend, Desmond turned his office upside down, frantically searching through the clutter, but the passport remained elusive.

Overwhelmed and running out of time, he finally resorted to calling the passport office for an expedited replacement, which would not only cost him a significant amount but also delay his crucial overseas trip.

The importance of maintaining an organized filing system was becoming increasingly evident to Desmond as he faced the consequences of his chaotic workplace.

Home “on-fire”

Upon arriving in his neighborhood, Desmond and his friend were greeted by an interesting sight—fire trucks blocking the street. As they approached, it dawned on Desmond with a sinking feeling that the fire was dangerously close to his own house.

In a panic, he realized the unimaginable—it was indeed his house that was ablaze. In hindsight, it became painfully clear that paying his homeowner’s insurance bill, lost amid the mess, would have made all the difference.

Lessons Learned – Why a Clean Desk Policy is Important

  1. Eliminating clutter requires a change in mindset. As long as you see nothing wrong in a cluttered workspace, it will be difficult to change.
  2. A notepad for writing down daily to-do lists and jotting down little reminders is more effective than having numerous sticky notes which invariably get lost.
  3. Always check meetings for each day immediately you get to the office in the morning.
  4. A clean desk policy may be difficult to begin with but it forces the desired behavior of having a decluttered workspace.
  5. A desktop filing drawer would have helped house the missing bills.

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Conclusion – Why a Clean Workplace is Important

The consequences of Desmond’s disorganized office had taken a toll on his day, and the lesson was crystal clear. A bit of order and organization could have spared him a series of unfortunate events.

The next time you find yourself surrounded by chaos, struggling to locate something amidst the clutter, remember this story about Desmond and make a decision to be better organized.

Need help with business office clutter and poor document management? CONTACT US TODAY for a chat to see how we can assist you.

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