Clean Off That Desk

clean desk
                                               via Flickr Creative Commons/Vance Reeser

No joke, January 11 was Clean Off Your Desk day.

No, this isn’t a formal thing. It’s one of those informal things, kind of Clean Out Your Fridge Day, which happens before Thanksgiving. But if you think about it, the wacky observances – funny and entertaining as they are – usually make a ton of sense. And the desk thing early in the year is catching on, for a number of reasons:

New year, new resolutions, fresh slate:
This is the time of year when we’re still sticking to resolutions, starting over, and so on. A big one at the top of all the lists – other than better diet and more exercise – is decluttering. Especially as we put away the last of the holiday decorations and go back to work to find all manner of things that were put on the backburner for the last few days. What? You think the KonMari talk happened around the New Year by accident? Au contraire, mon frères.

dirty keyboard
 Uh….makes you want to stick with blue screen of death, huh? (via Flickr Creative Commons/divadsci)

The germ factor:
Everything you use should get cleaned from time to time, including – and perhaps especially – your desk. Think about it. You spend a lot of hours at work. Chances are you eat and snack at it. And then there’s your keyboard. All those tiny crumbs, the not-completely-wiped-off-fingers after a bite of your croissant, and maybe they’re not always your fingers. Hello, Joe from IT who is going to rescue our laptops from blue screen of death! And maybe also just ate a croissant?

See where this is going?

Yeah, there are reasons why they sell all those doohickeys on the market to clean computers. And why compressed air is a thing.

messy dirty desk
Genius at work….or a paper graveyard? Pick one! (via Flickr Creative Commons/Jeffrey Beall)

It’s not just your “desk”:
January is a great time to get your papers in order. For a lot of people, it’s the last little post-holiday lull, especially if you’re self-employed. Now’s a good time to wrap up and organize all all your taxes and financials for the previous year so that you’re not scrambling later in the spring, by which point everyone is solidly back to work and there’s perhaps not enough time during regular business hours to organize.

The mental factor:
You’ve seen all the jokes about a clean desk. And it’s true. We don’t all work the same way, and it’s probably a very bad idea to force the genius to clean up her pile of papers. If she knows where things are, why mess with a good thing? Right? Right. But for most of us, the piles of paper can be visual clutter. It has the same effect that dusty baseboards have in an otherwise clean floor. It makes the place look kinda … grey, and you don’t know why, but there it is. Plus, you don’t really want to get to the point where you can’t tell the receipts and drafts from, well, the recycling.