Combat Cubicle Clutter

Even in this age of e-mail and online collaboration, the stacks of paper keep growing: newspapers, reports, file folders. Or maybe it's your pile of antiquated PCs and dead cell phones.

It's the mess in the corner of the cubicle, that black hole of clutter.

Some workers are comfortable with clutter; others feel too busy to clean up. But bosses often disapprove, seeking a more professional appearance or more productive staff. "A messy person may be productive in their environment, but it doesn't give that impression," said Jill Grzankowski, owner of Conquering Chaos Consulting in Alexandria. Some clients have either had to clean up their office or clear out their desk.

"The supervisor may be tired of nagging you" about the mess, said Grzankowski, who describes herself as "extremely neat."

Her advice for those who aren't: Set a daily calendar reminder that pops up at 4:45 p.m. Then make yourself take 10 or 15 minutes to put away the day's accumulation, plus a little from the black hole.

And if you like a cluttered cubicle? Perhaps you should find a boss whose desk is messier than yours.

-- Vickie Elmer