Sorry, but our offices are messy because we simply haven’t made the time and committed the effort to cleaning them up. The research on how office clutter leads to decreased focus, lowered productivity and increased stress levels is well documented and pretty damning. Even so, unless you’re a natural off-the-charts Type A, you’ve probably given yourself a pass a time or two.

“It’s been a long crazy week/month/quarter…of course my office is a mess.”

“I’m busy with a million things …so yeah, my desk is chaotic.”

And my favorite? “I’m in sales.”

Well, here’s another well-known saying: There’s no time like the present.

Simplicity and efficiency go hand-in-hand, and in a competitive and challenging field like sales, efficiency is vital. Clearing clutter and getting organized doesn’t need to be time-consuming or complex. You can do it in five reasonable steps:

  1. Purge Day – Pick up every paper, binder, old sales book, etc. and ask yourself if you really need it? Really? Why? If you don’t have an immediate and clear answer, say goodbye. Empty out, wipe down and organize every drawer and every shelf. Yes, even that scary junk drawer with the unused duck sauce packets and an exploded box of paperclips.
  2. Take Back Technology – Email isn’t a To Do list and your inbox shouldn’t be a running reminder of undone tasks. There’s real power in visual organization. Just like with your physical space, if your electronic desktop is littered with icons and your “My Documents” folder is a never-ending list of files, then each time you log in, your brain slows down and your sales focus suffers. Merge your electronic and physical to create a common organizational structure. Separate relevant prospect, customer, pending deals, etc. files into meaningful folders and archive those you don’t frequently need.
  3. Create Work Zones – Segment your desk and office space in a way that helps keep focus on each task at-hand. What do you need in front of you every morning? Dedicate a business development/selling place for it. Ongoing customer retention projects? Over there. New leads to pursue? Right here. Lay out key projects, programs and objectives. Define real space for priorities and activities.
  4. Go Shopping – If you don’t have the tools you need, then it’s time to go shopping. Different arrangements work for different people. Figure out what’s best for you and invest in yourself. Check out Pinterest or DIY blogs for ideas on how to maximize your space and organize your stuff, and whether you need a bigger trashcan (or two), a label maker or a color-coded folder system, figure it out and make it happen.
  5. Display Your Drive – When people talk about not losing sight of your goals, I take that literally. Write out your objectives. Use physical displays to remind yourself of your mission, every day. It might be a dry-erase scoreboard hanging on your wall that lists your running sales. Maybe it’s a photo frame that houses your first-ever earned dollar or an inspirational image on the back of your door. Whatever drives you, put it on display. Give yourself the daily gift of its motivating power.

Let’s face it, we all know the KISS rule and we probably agree that a clean office is a good idea. But sometimes, the simplest things are the hardest to actually get done. In those moments, just act. Start somewhere. Clear out one drawer. Sort one cabinet.

At the end of every day, spend 5 minutes cleaning up and readying yourself for tomorrow. Make an appointment with yourself each week for purge day, file old work and create space for whatever’s next. Organization supports efficiency. Efficiency fuels sales success. Use that boost to your earnings advantage.

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