You wouldn’t leave the house with a big blob of ketchup on your blouse, yet you probably spend hours each day in a workspace that has the equivalent of that ketchup stain somewhere. Working in a clean, neat office will make a very real difference in how you feel about your space and how others view it. It will inspire you to be more productive and get more done. In the home, spring cleaning usually refers to heavy-duty chores like washing windows, cleaning carpets and serious dusting. What I have in mind for your office is a lot less labor-intensive, but the results can be just as dramatic. Before you start, make sure you have a good cleaning product to work with. All my clients are familiar with one of my favorite things – a microfiber cleaning cloth. You can use them dry to dust, or dampen them to clean just about anything else. You can also use paper towels or rags and a spray cleaner like Fantastik. Or, biodegradable surface cleaning wipes. Here are a few areas that are typically neglected, and where dirt, dust and crumbs tend to lurk.
Your computer. The keyboard is a great place to start. Look down – see the grime on the keys and the schmutz underneath? Yuck – your fingers touch that stuff every day. Unplug the keyboard and shake it over a trash can. Wipe down the keys with a cloth dampened with your preferred cleaning product. If you received one of those mini keyboard vacuums as a gift, this is the time to finally take it out of the box and put it to use. Now clean off your mouse. Turn it over – if it has a track ball, unscrew the back, take the ball out and clean it with a dry cloth. Use that can of compressed air that’s in the bottom of your supply drawer to get the dust out of the place that houses the trackball, or just blow on it. Next, clean off the monitor. You can usually see the dirt better when the monitor is off. If it’s glass, use your damp microfiber cloth or paper towel, wiping in one direction from the top of the screen to the bottom. For flat screens, follow the manufacturer’s instructions or just use a dry, soft, cotton cloth. Use a dry cloth to dust off the CPU, particularly around the drives and in the back. Dust the printer too.
The phone. Attack the handset and mouthpiece and clean off the base and keypad. Make sure you don’t dial China by mistake. If the cord is one big knot, stand up and hold the cord in your hand and let the handset dangle and twirl around until it untangles itself.
Your desk. First take everything off. If you have an elaborate pile system going on, you can just recreate it on the floor, keeping everything in the same position. Now clean the surface, scraping off anything that’s become petrified. Put everything back. Of course if you now get the urge to organize, file and toss the old stuff, go for it! Do the same thing with the drawers. If you’ve got a drawer filled with old rubber bands, bent paperclips and more staples than you will use for the remainder of your working life, this is the time to toss! Gather up all the loose business cards and put them together in one place for now. Dealing with them is a project unto itself. Dust out all the pencil shavings and eraser remains.
Bookshelves. Dust. Need I say more? It only takes a minute or two. Do it. Use a brush with soft and stiff bristles for the hard-to-reach dust and also the nooks and crannies.
Piles of periodicals. If they are yellowed and dusty they are probably out of date. And you’re clearly not reading them. Go ahead and toss them. I give you permission!
Random things lurking in corners and under the desk– ancient rolls of wrapping paper, shopping bags, shoes that you forgot you had, mugs and caps that you hate … why not get rid of them? Spring is here – out with the old and in with the new. If you can’t bear the thought of throwing stuff away, stick it in a bag and mark it “Help Yourself” – put it in the cafeteria, the hallway or on the curb and someone will be happy to take it. For extra credit you can water that poor plant.
Start small: spend 15 minutes spiffing up the area that bugs you the most. Or that people make jokes about. Consider taking on a task a day until you’ve got a space you’d be proud to show to visitors. Enjoy working in a space that reflects your professionalism.