Mark and I have been collaborating on a Career Tools cast to come out shortly called 'Decorating Your Desk'. One of the action steps is keep your desk tidy. It occurred to me that some people might wonder why we're telling you tidy your desks like your mother told you to tidy your room, when what you really want to know is how you can get from where you are to CEO.
Marshall Goldsmith says to change everything, change one thing. If you make an effort to listen better, others will think you respect them more, that you communicate better and that you have more patience. By changing one thing, everything changes.
Desks are the same. By choosing one small area where you increase your standard, there is a ripple effect. Having a tidy desk means you're more organized, you can find things quickly, and people aren't afraid to come to your desk for fear they might catch something. You're less likely to be late to meetings because you're not looking for your notes. You submit your expenses on time and your boss doesn't see your name on the tardy report. When the VP comes over and asks for the Henderson report and your desk is clear and you can reach for it, knowing where it is, the VP gets the impression that you are together and in control of your work.
And then, he considers promoting you and you're on your way to CEO.