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A Clean Desk is a Happy Desk

It sounds so simple, but the basic idea of a clean desk extends well beyond just looking good… it promotes organization, efficiency, document security and it helps keep your work uncluttered. Many companies, productivity, and security professionals state that a desk must be clean at all times. This idea is rather foreboding since it’s nearly impossible to have nothing on your desk, but the idea is to have only what is necessary on your desk at any given time. Do you have three projects that need to be done by the end of the week? Pick only one to have out and on your desk! We are all more efficient when focusing on a single task, rather than continually switching between multiple concepts and projects.

A messy desk often has paperwork scattered all over it, sometimes taped to the walls, and more often than not, sticky notes on the monitors. It’s wonderful that there is so much information available for you to sift through when it’s needed; but what about the note that your colleague left on your desk last week? It had his personal contact information on it… where is it now? How about the clip of paperwork that your friend put on your desk to review last Wednesday? Did you store it in your desk locker? Or did you leave it somewhere? A messy desk poses a huge threat to information security! These sticky notes or documents can get lost among the clutter, or even get stolen without you noticing! That colleagues’ personal information may have been seen or taken by a dishonest co-worker or visitor, or by a cleaning person who works after hours or when you’re away. In either case, it’s possible that your colleague is now going to be the target of fraud, phishing attempts, or depending on what information was there, harassing phone calls, or someone stopping at their front door.

Clean Desk Tips:

Companies and individuals must make information security a paramount concern at all times. Employees are typically provided with some sort of locker at their desks. This could be in the form of a desk or storage cabinet that only you have the key to, or it could be a built-in filing cabinet that is locked, or maybe even a safe. You probably also have locking cabinets or drawers in your home. Everyone should use these secure storage locations to their fullest.

  • Make a filing system in the cabinet where maybe the top drawer is “Todays” tasks, the second drawer is “Finished” tasks, and the third drawer is the “Upcoming” files.
  • Only taking what you’re working on right now out of your “Todays” tasks will make it so that you only have data on one item out at a time. So if you lose something from this file, it will be quickly noticed and you can try to track it down immediately.

Clean Desk Common Mistakes:

  • Leaving phones (personal or company) on the desk
  • Writing down usernames/passwords and leaving them on your desk or in an unlocked drawer
  • Leaving a wallet or purse exposed
  • Leaving papers on the desk for extended periods of time
  • Forgetting to lock your storage cabinet/drawers
  • Leaving files on your desk that you are not actually working on
  • Not locking your computer screen when you step away

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