Your attitude, your clothing, your smile or a lack thereof, the time you roll into the office. All of these are pieces of what make up the person that you are perceived to be at the office. While none of them can define who you truly are, they are elements that people pull from when describing you. How many times have you heard someone say, “John’s a great guy but he is a sloppy dresser!” While the perception may be that John is great, someone will always remember his sloppiness in his apparel when thinking about his image.
The same goes for the way you keep your desk organized. It is typically true that the desk that someone keeps defines the way they handle themselves in or out of the office. Rarely do you find that someone who keeps a super messy desk is a detail oriented individual. It’s often quite the opposite. If you can barely see the top of your desk then you may have people around the office talking about you!
Keeping a clean desk doesn’t always mean you are a superstar in your job, but it does give off the perception that you are a buttoned up employee or for lack of a better term, it might make it easier to think that you have your shit together. Imagine a candidate for a job walking into your office and you are trying to recruit them. If your office smells like your lunch, the decorations are outdated, and your desk is full of scattered papers, what kind of an impression will that give to this future employee?
I’ll never forget the way I felt after interviewing at a particular company years ago. The lobby was disgusting, the drapes looked like they hadn’t been dry cleaned in decades, it was dark, the sales floor was gross, the carpet needed to be replaced, and the office and desk of my future boss was a mess. It gave me such the wrong impression of the place as a company I would be proud to call my job. Do you think you’ve ever lost a candidate because they thought your desk was a mess and it was a reflection of you? It may sound like the extreme but chances are somewhere along the line someone has been turned off by your space.
A messy desk says a lot about you. A messy office says even more. If you don’t have the ability to clean or tidy up your work space then maybe you don’t have the ability to steward the biggest project of the year. It has zero to do with reality and everything to do with perception, and last time I checked, perception is reality!