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Keeping Your Desk Clutter Free

Updated on November 1, 2012

Have you approached your desk at 9 AM and saw more paper than tabletop? Do you spend more time organizing your papers than completing actual work? Would your desk earn you a special place on “Hoarders”?

If you are answering yes to any of these questions, then you need a complete desktop makeover. A clean and organized desk is not just for the 9-to-5 crowd. Home offices, students, and stay at home parents all need a consistent sit down spot to gather their thoughts and complete tasks. The following tips and tricks will lead you to organizational Zen.

Do spend a day recycling any paper you don’t need or filing it in a drawer. Paper is single-handedly the most cluttering item on the average desk surface. Whether it is a receipt, a bill, or a project timeline, paper does not belong on the top of your desk. Invest in a corkboard, a recycle bin, a scanner, and a short 2 level hanging file cabinet with file hangers. Affix the corkboard on a wall in front of or to the side of your desk and place the scanner on top of your file cabinet. Flyers, event notices and dated materials should start on a corkboard when they are relevant and put in the recycle bin when they have passed their due date. If they contain information you need, scan them into your computer for long term archiving. Important documents such as bills, tax returns, and work related sheets should separated by topic and then by month in your file cabinet. Make good use of the labels provided and mark them clearly as well as list topics in alphabetical order. Lastly, consider getting digital versions of documents such as catalogues instead of printed versions. The trees and Earth will thank you.

Don’t store writing supplies, organizational tools, and binders or folders on your desktop. An In and Out document box and your favorite pen are fine, but keep your desk as clear as possible. Staplers, highlighters, pens, scissors, clips and the like should be placed in a compartmentalized plastic or wood organizer in the first drawer of your desk. It may take an extra second to open your drawer, but it is a better alternative than the aggravation you will feel and time you lose when you accidentally knock over that ubiquitous cup style pen holder. You will sigh in relief as you see the sheer amount of clean real estate that you have on your desk to work with for your daily projects.

Do put away the papers that have accumulated during the day when you are retiring from your desk. The biggest threat to your productivity tomorrow is your work from today. Do not leave papers, planners, food wrappers, supplies or anything else that may have crossed your desk when you turn off the light at the end of the day. These type of items are more likely to keep your desk messy than 3 month old bills. You will easily find yourself spending 30 minutes clearing these things off when that time could have been spent easing into the start of the day.

Don’t forget that this is your personal space. Give it a fun and whimsical touch. A cold and barren desk may be an emotional and physical turn-off. Add a compact flower vase with a beautiful faux rose, a colorful frame with your loved ones or a World’s Best mug. Keep it simple and limit the amount of personal items on top of your desk. Remember, if you are going to maintain a positive outlook, your desk should not resemble the Sahara Desert.

You don’t have to hire a maid to keep your desk in tip-top shape! By putting the previous tips into action, you will see an immediate improvement in your overall efficiency and even your general mood! A desk is like your second home. Keep it neat and tidy and you will never lose a single second finding that important paper again.


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