Five steps to a tidier desk – and maybe a promotion too

How to keep a tidy desk

New research from ICT services provider Brother UK shows that one in 10 bosses would overlook a junior colleague for promotion simply because they have a messy desk.

And it’s not just bosses that judge us for having cluttered workspaces – 40% see untidy colleagues as disorganised, while 15% assume that this means we don’t take pride in our work.

With the same research revealing that more than a third of the country admit to having a cluttered or messy workspace, it seems there’s some work to do to get our desks in order.

We’ve teamed up with professor of organisational psychology & health at Manchester Business School and author of Declutter your Desk with Theo Theobald Sir Cary Cooper to get his advice on how to keep our desks – and chances of promotion – in check.

  1. Detox your desk every couple of weeks. It’s inevitable that some clutter will accumulate, so don’t let things pile up until tidying it becomes too intimidating and time consuming.
  2. Consider what your mess is made up of – is it general clutter, or are the objects on the desk useful? Prioritise the items you use daily and stow away any that are rarely used.
  3. There’s an old saying – a place for everything and everything in its place. Try using useful accessories and technology such as label printers to mark trays, drawers and cupboards so that important documents can be found quickly.
  4. Print smart. Before printing a document, ask yourself if it’s really essential. The paperless office may not be a reality for most of us, but less printing means less clutter and it may also help to reduce costs for your organisation.
  5. For documents that you need to keep to refer to at a later date, create digital copies using a scanner. Get into the habit of doing this at an allocated time each week – either at the start or end of a day. Not only will this remove clutter from your desk, but it will help keep documents safe too.

To find out more about Brother UK, visit