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How to Clean and Organize a Work Desk

Updated on December 26, 2012
ChrisMcDade8 profile image

Christine McDade is a Human Resources professional (PHR & SHRM-CP) with over 18 years in the public sector.

A messy desk can prevent productivity and completion of important projects.
A messy desk can prevent productivity and completion of important projects. | Source

Get organized.

Getting organized can be quite a challenge for many employees. Having a proper place for office supplies, file folders, a computer, and various documents is valuable because having a heavy workload and/or difficult projects often need every ounce of attention from the employee. Wasting time looking for documents is not only time consuming, but also somewhat distressing. A properly organized desk equipped with necessary office supplies will make any job easier to perform. There are many basic things an employee can do to keep the work desk tidy and productive.


Don't underestimate the importance of a "clean" desk.

No matter how tidy and organized a desk is, the germs and dust that linger on a desk top area can be very surprising. As many employees routinely eat lunch and drink coffee at their desks, it is not hard to understand how filth can build up ever so gradually on a desk. In addition, phone receivers and computer keyboards can have germs that are transferred from hands touching them. During cold and flu season, such lingering germs can be most troublesome in the workplace as they get transferred from employee to employee.

Desks should be cleared regularly for the purpose of properly being dusted and cleaned. Disinfecting wipes, which can be purchased in most supermarkets and office supply stores, should be used on desk tops to remove filth and germs. Keeping the surface properly cleaned will also give the employee the chance to regularly review those piles that somehow end up on top of the desk.

Tips for organizing the files and documents kept on the desk

Once the desk has been cleared and cleaned thoroughly, it will be a good idea to take the time to organize the files and documents that have been stacked on the desk. Instead of just stacking everything back into piles, take the time to carefully look through everything for proper filing and/or scanning. Tips for successfully handling documents on the work desk are:

Tip - Prioritize tasks

  • It is important to locate needed documents at a moment's notice to complete those tasks which are priorities. Nothing is more frustrating than being unable to locate files and documents that should be on the desk or filed in a desk drawer. Knowing where those important documents are kept at all times can be a valuable asset.

Tip - Be conscience of immediate deadlines

  • Keeping up with scheduled reports and timely tasks can be much easier when items on the desk are kept neat and organized. Designating certain areas on the desk for a special folder or basket will keep those tasks needing the attention of the employee in a guaranteed place for future retrieval.

Tip - Know applicable record keeping laws

  • It is important for employers to be familiar with record keeping laws. Employers must know them in order to address proper record retention. There are record keeping laws that must be observed in every state. For information about record retention, check out For any paperwork that does not need to be saved and contains no personal information or company data, be sure to recycle them appropriately.

Tip - Documents should be filed accordingly

  • Documents should be kept in files to keep them grouped and organized according to their respective topic or subject. File folders that are properly labeled will make retrieving those important documents easy when they are needed. Furthermore, when it is time to archive the documents, the properly labeled file can be bundled with like subjects and filed away safely.

Tip - Keep office supplies readily available

  • Besides the file folders, three-ring binders and report holders that keep documents assembled, it is helpful to have other office supplies available. Instead of having to stop work and interrupt work progress, it is helpful to have office supplies handy for keeping work organized.

There are many easy ways to keep the documentation that is kept on a work desk organized. Taking time to periodically clean off the contents that pile on top of the desk will provide that ever important opportunity to get organized. Following the simple tips above will make staying organized a very basic process.

An organized desk makes for a productive employee.

An organized desk can be a valuable asset to completing projects, and prioritizing assignments. Employees who regularly make an effort to go through material on their desk to review and properly coordinate documents will find themselves better prepared to complete tasks in an efficient manner. Proper record retention and elimination of trash that is cluttering an employee's desk will provide more space for an employee to be productive and effective in their jobs. Following some basic organizational tips can help keep an employee effective in how they execute their priorities.


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    • ChrisMcDade8 profile image

      Christine McDade 4 years ago from Southwest Florida

      After writing this hub, I actually looked at my own desk differently today! I took my hub to heart as I started to get more organized as soon as I started my day. It helped me prepare for an important meeting I had today as I had everything I needed for it. Thanks for the comments.

    • davidlivermore profile image

      David Livermore 4 years ago from Bakersfield, California, United States

      I hate to say it, but I am very picky about how I have my desk, as well as the desks of my staff members (they are all shared desks). At first people thought I was a control freak, but they were very appreciative how I wanted things and said it made their work day easier. Voted up, useful, and re-pinned.