How can I convince my colleague to be more organized?

I go by her desk and I see piles of paperwork everywhere to the point she has difficulty finding what she needs. When I try to approach the subject with her, she immediately points out that I need to clean up my own desk (which is true). And on and on.

Even when I clean up my desk and try to approach the topic again, I am dismissed immediately saying she doesn't have time. The manager doesn't really want to get involved in this.

What can I do?

  • 7
    Why do you care so much about her desk and organization? If she is disorganized to the point of underperforming at work, then I'm sure her manage will want to get involved because she'll be underperforming. Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 14:49
  • 18
    MYOB is what you should do Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 14:49
  • 3
    Here's a question from your coworker's perspective: Coworker wants me to clear out the clutter from my cubicle
    – David K
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 15:12
  • 3
    "What can I do?" You can mind your own business.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 15:23
  • 1
    The fact that management doesn't want to get involved should be a clue. Continue to pursue this at great risk to your future with the company. Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 15:40

3 Answers 3


Don't do anything.

Unless this is somehow having a major impact on your ability to do your own job, it is not your business to get involved.

It's her manager's responsibility to address, if it needs addressing.

  • Yes. Each person's desk is their own workspace. If there's nothing to impinge on the person's workload and performance, you can't do much about it. If you do press the point, you'll only start friction within the team.
    – user44108
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 15:01

Unless it infringes on your desk space or ability to do work this would be an unprofessional thing to complain about as it endangers your relationship with your coworker in the same way that going to their home and calling it a mess would.

A workspace is personal and as long as it is inoffensive and does not infringe on other's ability to do their job it is not your responsibility.

It is,however worth noting that some employers do have a clear desk policy for security outside of office hours and if this is being infringed that is a different matter. But still not one for you, it is one for her manager.


Do you work in an open office? Having a mess on your desk can be distracting to other people.

(The following applies to my workplace, maybe not yours. Depends on your office culture and might be 'not done' in a lot of cases) If she's distracting you or others I would stack everything up and put that in front of her monitor. That way, the mess is gone directly and she'll be forced to (at least slightly) sort it out.

  • Having a mess on your desk can be distracting to other people [in an open space] that's an argument against open spaces, but there we go.
    – rath
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 15:09
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    Moving the things on your coworker's desk is not going to help, and will likely get you in trouble with management.
    – David K
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 15:14
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    That is far more offensive than a messy desk which is entirely harmless. Some people can only find stuff when it is arranged the way they like it. It is NEVER any of your business how another person arranges their desk.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 15:16
  • 1
    That's a good way to get the OP in trouble with HR Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 15:32

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