By Susan Avery
Workers’ organizational skills may be holding them back in their careers.
That’s the finding of a new survey by OfficeMax that shows more than two thirds of respondents admit their organizational skills are lacking.
The OfficeMax Workspace Organization Survey was conducted by Kelton Research in January 2011 for the office products company. What’s more, the survey also shows that messy workspaces at the office may shape the way their coworkers and supervisors perceive them.
"If you wonder what’s holding you back from that promotion or why you weren't asked to be a part of new project team, look at your desk," says Peter Walsh, organizational expert and creator of the Peter Walsh you-organized line of organizational tools.
"If you have piles of paper and a to-do list of items that keep getting pushed back, think about how procrastination impacts your productivity and self image,” he says. “If you want to change your situation at work, start with getting and keeping your desk in order. It’s key to increasing productivity and your image as someone who can handle more responsibility."
According to the survey, the areas people seem most ashamed of are their desk or workspace (35%), bedroom closet (28%) and desk drawers (12%).
"The condition of your desk can shape your boss's and co-worker's perception of you and your work habits," says Walsh. "If there's no semblance of order and purpose, it's easy for people to think you’re not on top of projects and that you're overwhelmed."
In addition, 53% of survey respondents admit to thinking negatively of their coworkers with messy desks. In fact, those who see a colleague's cluttered workspace often assume that person must be lacking in other aspects of his or her job (40%) or have a lower overall opinion of this colleague (13%). However, a third of respondents say the coworker is simply overworked and doesn't have time to clean.
A disorganized desk also affects a worker’s attitude. Ninety percent of respondents admit that disorganization has a negative impact on their lives. Their productivity (77%), state of mind (65%), motivation (53%) and happiness (40%) are negatively affected when there’s disorder.
The survey shows 46% of respondents say they will be more mindful of office organization in 2011. Of that number, 69% say maintaining their peace of mind is what typically motivates them to get organized. Having visitors (38%), feeling stressed (28%) and new beginnings, such as a new job (23%) are other motivators.
On the other hand, survey respondents also have reasons for delaying or avoiding organization. In fact, they have good intentions to organize their desk or workspace (45%), computer files (36%) or email (28%) but don’t seem to get around to it.
The challenge seems to be deciding what goes and what stays. Forty-six percent struggle with prioritizing, while others claim finding motivation to get the job done (43%) or having the right organizational tools (27%) prevent them from organizing their workspaces.
Still, respondents say being organized helps them feel more accomplished (71%), in control of their lives (68%) and relaxed (43%).
Susan Avery is Editor-in-Chief at My Purchasing Center. She writes articles, blogs and white papers and manages and creates other content for the online procurement and supply management publication. She produces and moderates roundtable discussions, podcasts, webcasts and video interviews. Susan has 30 years experience covering procurement and supply management for Purchasing magazine and Purchasing.com.
George E. Krauter
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