Are you having a hard time completing tasks at work or do you feel overwhelmed?
Clearing and organising your desk can help with both of those problems.
Getting control of the cutter on your desk can help relieve stress, anxiety and even an unclean feeling.
You will also have more pride in your area once it looks presentable.
Depending on how cluttered your desk it, clearing it out can be a daunting task. Don’t worry!
We’ve gathered 22 tips and ideas to help you get started.
You don’t have to do all of these at once.
Take it step by step and see how much better you feel after each one is complete.
This will most likely motivate you to keep going on your cleaning and organising journey.
Organisation also isn’t a one time only event. Reference back to this list if you feel like your desk is becoming overcrowded.
You will be surprised at how much more you enjoy your physical space, how much clearer your head is and how much more productive you are.
Let’s get started!
Idea #1: Purge Unnecessary Supplies
One of the first things you should do when trying to organise your desk is to go through everything and decide what’s important enough to stay, and what is just taking up space.
It’s easy to acquire stuff over the years and for it to start piling up. Take everything out of drawers, from on top of your desk, and out of filing systems to decide what’s worth keeping.
If you haven’t used the item in a few months, it’s probably safe to get rid of it. Once you have decluttered your space, it will become easier to organise.
Author’s Note: If paperwork is taking up the majority of space on or in your desk, try trick #5.
If you aren’t using bigger items like computers, printers, filing cabinets, etc. but don’t want to get rid of them, you can look into business storage.
We explain more in our simple (yet complete) guide to business storage in London.
Idea #2: Keep Your Desk Clean
After you’ve decided what you actually need and what you can do without, this is the perfect time to wipe down your freshly cleared desk.
Clean your desk with alcohol wipes or wood polish depending on the type of desk you have. Even a wet paper towel will do the trick.
Add this task to your daily/weekly routine to help keep the dust from piling up. When you walk into an office with a clean desk, that can help boost your work productivity.
Idea #3: Have A Place For Everything
There are some things that you will need at work every day such as a water bottle, calculator, notepad, etc.
You don’t want to just place these items anywhere on your desk because it will only add to your clutter.
By having a specific spot for your essential work items, this ensures you have all of the tools needed to work efficiently but clears out the clutter.
This also saves time by not having to track down the tools you need.
You will know exactly where everything is. For more distracting personal items, we have a tip for that as well in Trick #6.
Idea #4: Organise Your Computer Desktop
While you’re in the groove of organising, don’t overlook your desktop.
You spend the majority of your day looking at your desktop, so it deserves to stay in order.
Digital messes count as visual clutter too. Staring at a maze of icons and unsorted files can hurt your productivity.
Create a folder system that makes sense to you and your work.
Once a week, file away icons that are taking up space or that don’t belong. Doing this will make it more stream-lined to find what you are looking for.
Idea #5: Scan Older Documents
Files and older paperwork can be a bulk of the clutter in and on your desk but most likely it is important and that is why you are holding on to it.
If you can part with it, do. But, if you do need to keep it, scan the document to create digital files.
This will free up so much room in desk drawers or a filing cabinet, giving you storage space that you didn’t even realize you had.
Digital files also allow you to easily search and find the document in less time.
If you still have paperwork that you must keep physical copies of, think about storing them somewhere else since you most likely won’t need to access them often.
Idea #6: Create Personal Space
There will be things that you take back and forth to the office every day.
Instead of tossing your wallet, purse, briefcase, etc. anywhere, create a separate space for all of your personal items.
These items are essential so you can’t get rid of them but you can eliminate the day to day clutter they can cause.
If you have extra drawer space in your desk, this can be a great spot.
By removing your phone from sight, it can drastically increase your performance throughout the day.
Idea #7: Label Everything
When we say everything, we mean everything.
Days can get hectic at work and the last thing you need is to waste time trying to find something in your bin, drawer, or baskets.
This will help you quickly find the items place again, as well if anyone needs to borrow something.
Invest in a label maker to help yourself and others in your office.
It’s a good idea to label all your cords for quick identification.
Know which one belongs to your chargers to not confuse it for your computer power and accidentally lose your work.
Idea #8: Use An Under Shelf Basket To Decrease Clutter
After you have gone through your belongings to see what you need and what you can get rid of, sometimes there are still too many things and not enough storage space.
Invest in a simple and inexpensive under shelf basket to clear the space on top of your desk, but still have them close by in case you need them quickly.
This is great for small areas to help make use of all that space that’s under your desk and to free up some elbow room for your comfort.
If you are working in a small space and your desk is taking up most of it, you might want to look into smaller furniture.
In our guide for space-saving furniture ideas, we list several desk types and other furniture designs as well.
Idea #9: Raise Your Monitor
Whether you choose to buy a monitor stand or use a DIY storage box you have laying around the office from deliveries, raising your monitor gives you more counter space.
You can use this extra room to keep your most-used office supplies conveniently right in front of you.
Have a few decorations or plants to help brighten the mood in your space.
This also helps you have more space where you can organise your different papers and files when you don’t have ample desk space.
Idea #10: Do A Sticky Note Cleanse
Post-It notes can be a beneficial office supply to help remind you of important things.
However, they can start to pile up and eventually your whole cubicle is surrounded.
Take a break from jotting something down on a physical note. Instead, create an online notepad or document that you can refer to for things that need follow up.
Return back to them once you can and try to reduce the number of notes to a few every couple of days.
Multiple notes can cause you to feel overwhelmed by trying to keep up with everything.
Idea #11: Organise Your Drawers
Now that you only have the supplies you think you will use in the foreseeable future, take it a step further.
Organise your drawers with similar items being grouped together.
Keep your staples and staplers together and your binder clips and paper clips together so they are easy to locate when you need it.
With drawer organizers, this allows you to easily place items where it makes sense and keeps you from digging in your drawer to find something.
Idea #12: Utilise Movable Walls
Movable walls are great because they can be used to organise your desk or office.
They can benefit the office by changing up the physical space to be used for different reasons.
Many of these movable walls are made out of a dry erase board material or something similar to a corkboard.
Either way, it allows you to easily take or hang notes on the board and transport your thoughts to other meeting rooms.
Movable walls are also great in shared offices, to create a more private space when you really need to focus and knock out tasks without any distractions.
Idea #13: Create People/Project Folders
Depending on the type of work environment you are in, creating folders for different people or projects will help you stay organised and quickly reference what’s needed.
Whether it’s documents relating to a certain project that multiple people are on or managing several people if you are a supervisor, you will need separate folders to keep track of important information.
Be sure to clearly label the file folders so when a specific person needs something, you know exactly which one to grab to get them the document you need.
Idea #14: Clean Up Your Inbox
If your business is conducted through email (and most of them are), your inbox can start getting out of control. It happens.
Take a few minutes out of the day to read and sort your emails.
You can create relevant subfolders within your inbox so you can reference an old email and utilise different category colours to help keep things visually grouped together.
Some emails are more important than others.
Mark which ones should be prioritized over others to assist you with organising your daily tasks and getting rid of the junk.
Idea #15: Contain Papers in Tray
Usually, over time we start to accumulate paper clutter on our desk and if you are not conscious of it, it can get out of control really fast.
Have a tray on your desk where you can put the papers that you need to frequently reference.
Put dividers in the tray or by a tiered product if you need different sections to separate information.
While it’s better to not have any loose papers on your desk, having a tray is an effortless way to contain the clutter to a small portion of your desk.
Idea #16: Use Wall Space
People often make the mistake of piling things on top of their desk or filling the drawers when there is so much room to be used on the walls.
Hang simple things like calendars and to-do lists on your wall or get more creative with it and install file holders.
This is one of many great storage ideas to take back the area on or in your desk.
If several people occupy your office space, hang up communal items like bulletin boards to keep everyone informed and productive.
Idea #17: Turn Storage Into Decoration
One of my favourite organising tips is to turn storage into decorations. You can do this by using clear containers to store your items in.
Clear up drawer space and organise those smaller items.
Many office supplies come in different colours so you don’t have to settle for the boring grey anymore.
Add some fun and personality to your desk or home office while still remaining organised.
Idea #18: Wrap Your Cables
If you have a lot of electronics connected around your desk, the cables can become unmanageable and they don’t look very appealing twisting and winding around each other.
Wrapping your cables is a simple desk organisation tip.
Bound cables with rubber bands, zip ties or twist ties. You may need to place several ties spread out at different sections, depending on how long the cables are.
Once you have them bound, try to adhere them to the back of your desk to keep them in place.
Idea #19: Don’t Hesitate To Toss It Out
Even when you attempt to go totally digital, physical papers will continue to accumulate from meeting agendas to sticky notes. Place a trash can and a recycle container under or near your desk.
This will encourage you to get rid of things as soon as possible and the recycling bin will eliminate any regret of wasting paper.
If you don’t have an office cleaner who will empty the bins, make sure you are doing it once a day or at least once a week.
Idea #20: Finish Tasks ASAP
This may seem obvious but it is easy to let small tasks pile up.
There is a rule for avoiding procrastination in day to day life that states if a task will take under two minutes to complete, just do it now.
You can adjust that rule for your office life and say if you can complete it in under fifteen minutes, just do it now.
This will help you be more productive and eliminate the clutter of the to-do list, the paperwork involved, etc.
Idea #21: Rearrange Electronics
If you are using a computer that has a separate modem or just have a lot of electronics hooked up in your office, try rearranging them.
Modems can be placed under the monitor, under the desk or other places other than the top of your desk to free up some room.
Try to remove as many electronics from the top of your desk as possible. Place them on top of filing cabinets or in lower cabinets of your desk.
This will allow you easy access when you need them but will also free up so much space for you to use every day.
Idea #22: Set Rules
This is a great tip whether you are sharing your desk or have your own work area. However, it will be harder to implement in a co-working environment.
Creates rules to organise and keep your desk clean. These rules can be something like:
- No Eating At The Desk
- Clean Out The Trash/Recycle Bin Every Friday (pick whatever day is convenient for you but keep it consistent)
- Wipe Down The Desk Everyday
- Only Allow 5 Sticky Notes To Accumulate
These rules can be anything you want to help you stay organised and to help your desk stay clean.
Author’s Note: Set up repeating alarms on your phone or computer to remind you to clean up and clear off your desk.
Before You Go!
You may have noticed several of the tricks and tips in this guide are around managing the piles of paperwork.
Always go digital when possible but don’t be afraid to purge paperwork that is just sitting and collecting dust.
Give yourself some peace of mind and eliminate the stress of an overcrowded workspace. You will be shocked at how freeing it can be to remove the old stuff you are hanging on to.
Not only will you free better but you will be more focused and productive at work.
If you are finding it hard to change your lifestyle or keep up with it, don’t worry. Try a few tricks first and see what works for you.
If you fall behind a few months down the road, take a deep breath and look over these tips again. It’s not hard to get back on track and give yourself a fresh start.
We hope this guide helps you organise your desk, relieve daily stress and become more efficient at work!
Some additional resources you might find useful:
- The Secret to Becoming a Minimalist (It Isn’t Decluttering)
- The 26 Best Places to Work Remotely in London (2022 Update)
- How to Declutter Your Home: 21 Tips for Pro Organisers
- How to Downsize your Wardrobe: The Complete Checklist
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