If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re sitting at a desk. And if you’re sitting at a desk now, there’s a good chance you spend many of your waking hours there. If so, it’s important to keep your desk organized. You’ll increase your productivity and feel less stressed (even when you’re completely stressed.)
Below are some ideas to help you think about how best to organize your desk. (See also: 11 Ideas to Organize Your Office)
1. The right amount of space.
Make sure there’s enough space on your desk to fit everything that needs to be there. I’m all for smaller beds, dinner plates, and apartments, but as adorable as tiny desks can be, a workspace is the one area where it really helps to go big if you can.
2. Think ergonomically.
Use your desk itself as an organizer by choosing a model with drawers and/or shelves built in. Make sure that they’re easy to open and close, and comfortable to reach.
3. Make everything easy to reach.
Alternately, use the space under a bare-bones desk for small shelving units or boxes. Think about what you need, container-wise, and then figure out how to fit those containers under your desktop. If you have to store power cords and camera equipment, plastic tubs might be best. If you rely on old-school hanging files, maybe file cabinets can be used as the “legs” of your desk, or portable file boxes can be stashed underneath.
4. Figure out what you need and then look for a box to put it in, never work the other way around.
Use numerous small containers, not a single massive one, to hold office supplies on your desktop. Those huge all-purpose organizers with little spaces for everything look like perfect problem solvers, but they rarely work out that way.
Customize your own system with multiple small containers in shapes and sizes that work for you. For example, if you need large quantities of paper clips, get one large plastic box or cup to hold them all. If you only use a few pens, there’s no need to have a bulky, mostly empty pen-holder taking up space. A small organizer for letters, separate from a larger one for file folders, helps sort papers on your desk.
5. Sometimes desk organization goes beyond your desk itself.
If you frequently use reference books or appliances that don’t fit on your desk, figure out the easiest way to keep them nearby. A stack of books on the floor can look surprisingly polished, and be kept at arms’ reach from your seat. Maybe it works for your space to add another small piece of furniture near your desk that can hold a printer or scanner. If your office came with built-in bookshelves or some other feature, think about whether that can be used as an extension of your desk.
6. Don’t collect clutter.
Don’t let your desk become a place to dump keys, glasses, winter hats, or coffee cups. A large flat surface can attract all sorts of items, especially if your desk is in a home office. But resist that temptation in the moment, or you’ll only have more work to do later.
7. Declutter your desk regularly.
Just as you would with a clothes closet, set aside time to go through any stacks of paper, files, and boxes, and purge the things that have collected that you no longer use. You’ll feel much more productive without stuff,you don’t need taking up space, and you may rediscover a great idea you had months ago hidden away.
8. While you’re at it, remember to clean your desk, too.
I mean literally, clean it, the way you would any other table. We don’t think of desks as getting dirty (unless we spill something on them) but they attract dust just like everything else in the building.
9. Stock up on supplies, and remember where you put them.
If you work in an “office office,” there will probably be a supply closet and someone whose job it is to keep it filled. If you work alone or from home, it’s good to attempt to keep this up for yourself.
Make sure you have extra stamps, printer paper, staples, and whatever else you’re likely to run out of. Because browsing the office supply store is fun, but running through it in a panic looking for toner when you have a deadline is very much not fun.