Do you have piles of paper, folders, tchotchke and other materials covering your desk?  A new CareerBuilder study shows hoarding can result in a negative impact on your career.  Nearly three-in-ten (28 percent) employers say they are less likely to promote someone who has a disorganized or messy work space.  This national survey was conducted between May 19 and June 8, 2011 among 2,662 U.S. hiring managers and 5,299 workers.

One third (33 percent) of workers say they tend to be hoarders (evenly balanced between male and female workers).  While companies have shifted to a more digital workplace, more than half (51 percent) of workers say they still have paper files in their office/desk.

  • 38 percent say that, currently, between 50 to 100 percent of their desk surface is covered with work and other materials, while 16 percent of workers said 75 percent or more of their desk is covered.
  • 36 percent of workers say they have paper files from more than a year ago, 13 percent have files that are five years or older and six percent have files dating back more than 10 years.

Even if workers are actually working on multiple projects with positive results, workplace clutter is causing employers to have a negative view of them. Nearly two-in-five employers (38 percent) say piles of paper covering a desk negatively impacted their perception of that person; 27 percent feel they are disorganized, while 16 percent say they are just messy.

“Workers are being asked to take on more projects as companies function with leaner staffs, which could be resulting in more cluttered workspaces,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. “While chaos on your desk space can indicate a busy workload, it can also imply a lack of organization. The good news is that workers can fix this problem quickly and reverse any negative perceptions of their performance.”

Haefner recommends the following to get your work area organized:

Schedule time with the office recycle bin – a calendar reminder for Friday afternoon to take completed projects to the recycle bin.

Work on one project at a time – while you may have 20 things on your “to do” list, prioritize what needs to be done that day when you arrive at work and take care of one project at a time.

Don’t be a digital hoarder – Just because nobody else can see your clutter, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, especially in your email boxes. Delete un-needed emails on a weekly basis.

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