Whether we like it or not, our desks say a lot about us.
If you’re entering the workforce for the first time as a student or new grad, it’s easy to overlook the small details of your working life and focus solely on fitting in with your new office.
Ultimately, your personality, work ethic and professional skills will be what allow you to succeed in your career, but there is a lot to be said for how you handle your personal space. Unnecessary clutter, for example, can cause you to appear disheveled and make your co-workers take you less seriously.
Avoiding these common trends can ensure that if your desk absolutely insists on talking about you, it will only have good things to say.
Desk type #1: Itching to leave
It’s nice to personalize your space. In fact, doing so creates the idea that you are committed for the long haul, which an employer will look highly upon. That being said, the 800 photos of your Jamaican cruise and countdown calendar to your next vacation don’t reflect well. They suggest that you’d rather be anywhere but here.
Tip: Limit the number of photos you post so you don’t appear eager to run out the door.
Desk type #2: No man’s land
On the other end of the spectrum, your desk shouldn’t be so empty that people forget someone actually sits there. Too many photos and memorabilia items send a negative message, but a complete lack of them sends a different yet equally off-putting thought. People might think you’re reluctant to settle down with the company.
Tip: Nobody needs to know about your ongoing Pokemon obsession, but a family photo or two makes it seem like a human being actually works there.
Desk type #3: Childhood nostalgia
Small toys often occupy some desk spaces. Slinkies. Bobbleheads. Tiny race cars. These add a sense of fun to your desk and express your imagination and laid-back attitude. That being said, an overabundance of toys can also suggest a lack of focus.
Tip: Your desk should indicate that you’re approachable, not five years old. Keep the slinky and throw out the Etch-a-Sketch
Desk type #4: Snacks and Starbucks
Depending on your work environment, eating at your desk may be common practice. However, if you’re one of those people who likes to eat little portions throughout the day, make sure you don’t let empty containers and wrappers pile up. This makes you appear messy and distracted (and as though you have nothing better to do than continually go for coffee breaks).
Tip: Use a reusable coffee mug to cut down on the number of Starbucks cups piling up by your monitor.
Desk type #5: Post-it note central
If a slight breeze could potentially tear your organization apart, it’s time to change your strategy. Writing a quick note to yourself might make you feel on top of things, but an abundance of them makes you appear disorganized to others.
Tip: A notebook (or better yet, an online calendar which can notify you before you’re supposed to do something) is a much more efficient way to stay organized.
Desk type #6: Every day’s a holiday
Halloween brings forth tiny carved pumpkins. Christmas finds your desk completely strung with lights, and Easter features a giant pile of decorated eggs. Although festive, this indicates you have nothing better to do at work, making your boss question both your priorities and commitment to your job.
Tip: Bring in Halloween treats and hang up a stocking. End of story.