Whether you’re working at home or in an office, a well-organized desk is essential to boosting productivity and helping you focus and streamline all of your projects. Here’s our advice on how to organize your desk to reduce distracting clutter and improve your working environment – follow the steps below.
Clear Your Desk
To completely declutter your desk and start afresh, you’re going to need to take action. The best way to get an organized desk is to start with an empty desk. Please take a couple of cardboard boxes and fill them up with the entire contents of your desk.
If you have a PC, you should be able to move it to one side without having to unplug everything, unless your cables are all tangled, in which case we recommend unplugging all of your desk electronics and unravelling them.
For best results, don’t just clear your desktop. Ensure that you also remember to clear out your drawers, shelves, and any under your desk storage areas. Everything should be removed from your desk, allowing you to move on to the next stage.
Chances are your desk could probably do with a good clean, especially if you had a lot of disordered items gathering dust for a long time. But, even if your desk is already spotless, the fact that you have to remove each and every item to clean gives you a good reason to strip absolutely everything from its hiding place so you can start afresh.
Sort Through Your Stuff
Sort through the old contents of your desk and make three piles; bin, keep and rehome elsewhere. Try to be very strict with yourself. Remember, if you have many unnecessary items lying around, they’re going to be much more of a hindrance than a help.
- Bin – start by going through your items and discarding any old, out-of-date items and paperwork you no longer need. Simply getting rid of your old stuff can free up quite a lot of desk storage space.
Once you have gotten rid of the bin’s definite items, sorting through the rest can become a little more tricky, so you’ll want to add to your rubbish pile as you continue.
- Keep – form a neat pile of frequently used items and essentials you need. Don’t place them on or inside your desk just yet. We’ll move onto this stage later.
- Rehome – if you have some personal items that have migrated to your desk or items you want to keep but don’t help create a good working environment, relocate them somewhere proper. You can put them in a box to take home in a more suitable room in your house.
As you sort through, be aware that you may be tempted to keep a couple of items that you don’t really need. If you have a lot of items that fall into this category, the harsh truth is that you’re going to have to say goodbye to some of them. As time goes on, you’ll undoubtedly gather more items, so it’s important to start off with the absolute bare essentials and to keep on top of any cluttering as it begins to gather.
Reorder Your Desk Layout
Now that you’ve got rid of any junk and have just the essentials to hand, it’s time to reorganize your desk layout for maximum productivity.
Rearrange Your Desk Configuration
You’ve only got so much desk space to work with, so it’s best to make it count by streamlining your office supplies and accessories. First, spend a short amount of time thinking about which items you need to have to hand, then decide which of these items need to be on your desktop and which can be relocated to a top drawer.
Of course, you’re going to want to have your laptop or monitor and keyboard directly in front of you. Raising your monitor up can help you work more effectively and give you a handy space to store small gadgets or pack your wireless keyboard away when you’ve finished for the day.
If your desk is large enough, give yourself plenty of space on one side of your computer area. This is to properly deal with any paperwork or make notes without moving your keyboard or spreading your papers over it. Also, if you often reach for a pen, paper or various stationery, consider placing one of each of your most frequently used items in a small jar towards the rear of your desk within easy reach.
With your desktop set up pretty much how you like it, sit down and check that all your most important items for day-to-day work are in easy reach and uncluttered.
Though you may be used to a “busier” looking desk, fight against the temptation to add too many personal items, which can create distractions and too much visual clutter.
When you’re happy with your new streamlined desk space, it’s time to plan where you’re going to store all of the rest of your supplies and equipment. Then, while you’ve got everything out, it’s a good time to take stock of all of your gear quickly and to keep track of anything you’re running low on and may need to purchase.
If you didn’t do it earlier, now is the time to test your stationary. Let go of any broken or about to run out of supplies and order new ones if you’re running low. If you’re on the phone and need to grab a pen to make a quick note, you’re going to want to have one that works to hand, rather than trying out several different ones that should have been thrown in the bin a long time ago.
Maximize Your Storage Space
Group the rest of your items by importance, size, and usage frequency. Frequently used small items should go in your top drawers, while file folders and larger items can go in your under desk storage area, cupboards or a dedicated filing cabinet.
This will help you stay clear and focused while working, without having to move heavy, bulky items to get to files and papers.
Consider placing those bulky items that you may not need to use often, either under your desk or beside it. Then, if you want, you can choose another location, such as near scanners, printers and laminators.
If you have a lot of paperwork that you need to have nearby, consider adding some shelves to your home office wall space or a handy DIY file system solution using box files and labels.
Make Sure Everything Has a Home
As the saying goes, you should have “a place for everything and everything in its place.” So, as you’re nearing the completion of your desk organization project, make sure that every last item has space where it belongs. From sticky notes to printer paper, paper clips and pencil sharpeners, if it’s in or on your desk, it needs its own dedicated home so you can locate it easily.
Doing so will make it much easier to avoid a cluttered mess from building back up again. In addition, once an item has a place where it belongs, you’re much more likely to put it back in its correct place rather than leaving it lying around. And as we all know, clutter tends to attract even more clutter!
Useful Tips to Improve Efficiency at Your Desk
While your new, super organized desk layout is going to make a difference, chances are you’ve been here before, and things somehow got cluttered up again little by little.
To ensure that you keep your workspace as organized as possible in the long term, check out our top tricks for improving your work efficiency with a couple of extra desk organization tips.
Designate an Area for Your Keys, Phone and Wallet
Not only do they provide a visual distraction on your desk, but it also makes sense to keep these valuable items out of sight and somewhere safe. Placing them on a tray in your drawer can also help you work better if you get lured away by your smartphone notifications.
If you need your mobile phone as part of your job, consider purchasing a desk charger stand so your phone will be neatly accessible and fully charged up without running cables over your work.
Use a Utensil Organiser Tray
To keep small items neatly stored inside your top desk drawer. Stationary, sticky notes, paper clips, and pens can all quickly turn an organized drawer into a jumbled-up mess with just a few openings.
Use a Notebook
Ideally, make notes on your phone or your computer and save losing scraps of paper. If this isn’t possible, or if you prefer to jot things down by hand, get yourself a notebook.
Your notes should be in one place, so you won’t risk misplacing them like post-it notes. When you’re done, a notebook is easy to pick up and take home with you or to store in your top drawer. It will also stop you from hanging onto bits of old envelopes and the like because you’ve scribbled a useful detail on them.
Scan Your Documents and Go Digital
Then put away the originals safely in a filing cabinet. Consult your scans rather than the actual paperwork itself and keep your important documents pristine and in a safe place. This will save you an awful lot of desk space, especially when reading through files with multiple folders, documents and pages that would physically swamp your entire workspace.
Get a Small Recycling Bin
Keep it next to or under your desk. Throw away envelopes, spare bits of paper or out-of-date memos straight away throughout the day. Then, empty your waste paper basket every day into your office or home recycling bin. This is an effective way to get rid of paper clutter by preventing it from building up in the first place.
Are you struggling with overflowing drawers and cupboards? Even if your desktop is neatly streamlined, if you’re struggling to find space to put stuff away, it’s not going to stay that way very long.
Pick up an inexpensive cart with wheels, like the ones you often find in kitchens. Store it next to your desk, label your files, use it to help you organize your paperwork, and provide extra space for office supplies.
Stay on Top Of Clutter
Once a week, reorganize and declutter. Even if you don’t need to, it will pay off in the long run. Also, your desk will be a much more productive place to work.
You are furthermore, giving your desk a thorough clean once a week is a good idea to help you stay organized and improve your general work environment and your entire office.
Organise Your Digital Desktop
— John Eick (@John_Eick) October 29, 2015
Lastly, while all of these tips are great ways to stay organized and improve your workflow, don’t forget to also look at ways to optimize your digital desktop layout.
Multiple stray folders, notifications from social media, distracting wallpapers, etc. Here are plenty of digital distractions that can also be easily sorted out so that your online file system and computer home screen mirror your tidy, organized office desk.
It’s Always Best to Have a Spotless Desk
If your desk is full of clutter and endless to-do lists, it could be taking its toll on your productivity. Knowing how to organize your desk will save you time searching for what you need and allow you to focus more deeply on what you are doing. This means you can get your tasks done more efficiently for shorter, more productive working hours. Speaking of being productive when working on your desk, it is of utmost importance that you know high it should be and how you should properly sit.
Make sure you regularly take time out of your working day to keep your desktop clean and tidy. Not only will you be much more comfortable, but you’ll also find it easier to get things done.