You can rest assured that looking organized (i.e. perfect) and being organized isn’t the same thing. But for better or worse, our colleagues, managers, staff, and clients draw conclusions about us when they look at our work spaces. By the time many of my clients contact me, they’re not concerned about what message their office communicates—they simply need to find their desk. But they soon realize that it is easier to maintain their new found order when their workspace expresses their values.
What does your office say about you? Look around your office and imagine you are seeing it for the first time. If you can’t objectively see it anymore, ask a trusted colleague for feedback. If your office isn’t on message, here are some values you might prefer to express and some ways to do it:
- Productive: Post-Its on your computer monitor and scraps of paper everywhere look chaotic and can easily get lost. A single to-do list communicates that you’re on top of things.
- Efficient Find important paperwork all the time, every time, by creating a good filing system.
- Focused: Show your discernment about what’s relevant by getting rid of old files, furniture, computer hardware, and storage boxes. Clutter is a literal and symbolic distraction from your goals.
- Engaged: If your office is filled with family photos and personal items, you could be sending the signal that you’d rather be somewhere else. Don’t let them be the focal point of your space.
- Experienced: Frame and hang your diplomas and certificates. They reflect your expertise and credentials.
- Professional: Designate one drawer or covered cabinet for your personal items like extra shoes, bags and umbrellas.
- Approachable: Clear out the space behind your door so that you can open it all the way. Arrange your desk so that you don’t sit behind it during one-on-one meetings.
- Personable: Some offices are so professional that it’s hard to see the person behind them. Express yourself through your wall calendar, a potted plant, or a framed photo on your desk.
- Valuable: If your office is full of cast-off furniture and old storage boxes, you may be sending the message that you and your work aren’t worth more. If your company doesn’t have the budget for a new office suite, invest in yourself with a set of coordinated desktop accessories or a new piece of artwork.
Cristin Lind is a Professional Organizer who works with busy executives to create corporate, small business, and home offices and systems that help them work smarter and feel better. Through one-on-one, hands-on organizing sessions and high-impact group training, Cristin implements custom solutions that make sustainable organization possible.
Cristin is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers. Sign up for monthly organizing inspiration via e-mail or find more organizing ideas at www.cristinlind.com.