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6 reasons to clean off your desk

Remember, your workspace speaks for you even when you're not there.

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to be more organized, you should be celebrating National Clean Off Your Desk Day, Monday, Jan. 9 (but we know it's already on your calendar, right?). It’s the perfect time to reclaim control of your workspace and ensure everything is in its place.

Being well-organized has a host of advantages in your career, starting with these six.

It makes you look more professional

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Having a tidy desk projects an image of competence, says professional organizer Seana Turner. We've all seen that co-worker's desk scattered with dirty coffee cups, food scraps and mounds of clutter (yuck!).

A professional person takes pride in his or her appearance, whether it's your outfit or your desk. Try to look at your desk from an outsider’s perspective and think about what it says about you. 

It makes you more efficient

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Knowing where things are keeps you on top of your game. “People who pile paperwork often obscure items underneath the stacks, resulting in wasted time trying to find what they are looking for,” Turner says.

Filing things where they belong creates less surface clutter—and ensures you know where they’re at when you need them.

It ensures you have room to work

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Many projects require dealing with multiple items, such as your calendar, phone, reports, books, studies and so on, Turner says. “Even in the digital age, much of our work is conducted through or with physical supplies," she says. "A functional desk will have clear space where these items can be spread out and referenced.”

Disorganized employees may even take over common spaces, such as a table in a conference room, because their desks are so cluttered. You don’t want to be that person.

It helps keep sensitive information safe

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If you are dealing with sensitive information, leaving it sitting around on your desk can put you or your company at risk. “Stacks of visible papers cause privacy concerns in many industries, particularly healthcare,” says Melissa Gratias, owner of MBG Organizing Solutions in Signal Mountain, Tennessee.

“One HIPAA violation can cost you $50,000.”

It keeps you on task

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It’s difficult to prioritize your projects if you’re not organized. A messy desk is overwhelming and doesn’t tell you where to start, says professional organizer Thalia Poulos.

“Using paperwork strewn on the desk as an un-prioritized visual tickler file needs to be replaced by a prioritized written list as the road map for calm productivity.”

It keeps your supplies in one place

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Any interruption can throw you off your game, and if you’re always getting up to find something you need, it’s difficult to concentrate on your projects, says professional organizer Amanda LeBlanc.

“There are many studies showing that once a person gets up from something they are working on to look for supplies, they are much less likely to return to what they were working on when they left," she says. "Acrylics bins or drawer organizers are great for storing supplies and keeping them easily accessible and visible.”