You may be thinking, “I want an organized desk. But is there really any benefit spending time tidying up my workspace?” The answer? Yes, there’s great benefit in taking the time to tidy up your workspace!


Think about it for a moment: you spend a lot of time at your desk on a daily basis. So why wouldn’t you want to have an organized desk that allows you to do your work both easily and efficiently?

Here are a few key reasons as to why organizing your desk is a wise move:

You can find what you need, when you need it.

How many times have you gone searching for a misplaced file foldera pair of scissors, or an important document on your desk? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to find what you need, exactly when you need it?

You can reduce distractions.

A pile of postal mail, a stack of magazines, a box of crafting materials…the contents on your desk shouldn’t distract or hinder you from working. You should be able to focus on your work and get things done.

You’ll have a workspace that not only looks good, but makes you look good too.

Who wouldn’t love to have an organized desk that is clean, tidy, and professional-looking? Who knows, a well-organized desktop might tip the scales in your favor at work or at school…

So, have I convinced you yet? I thought so! It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Here are the eight essential tips for a more organized desk.

Remove clutter

A work desk can collect a lot of clutter over the course of many weeks and months.

This is especially true if you’re constantly working on new projects and assignments. Things just tend to build up over time.

Freshen up the top of your desk with these smart tips:

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Take 20 minutes to declutter.

Remove or declutter any items that are in your way; this can be anything from reams of printer paper, stacks of last year’s product mockups, trash, expired coupons, bits of scrap paper, or ribbon from last month’s crafting project.

Curate personal mementos.

Do you have framed photographs, decorations, or office toys at your desk? It’s perfectly fine to have these items, but they shouldn’t overwhelm you or interfere with your work. Use your best judgment to pare down or edit your collections to free up some space.

Properly store non-essential items.

Find permanent storage solutions for those items that don’t need to be near you as you work. Store surplus office supplies in the supply closet, place files in a filing cabinet and put all those used coffee mugs in the kitchen dishwasher.

Do a secondary scan.

Are there any other items that don’t belong on the top of your desk? The fastest way to figure this out is to make a list of items you use on a regular basis. Everything else can be relocated to another area of your home or office, donated or disposed of.

Remove non-essential items on a regular basis.

Keep things tidy by decluttering your desk at regular intervals. It doesn’t matter whether you declutter on a weekly or biweekly schedule, so long as you do so!

Designate specific work areas

You might not realize it, but your desk serves as multipurpose workstation.

Even if you spend a lot of time on the computer, you probably use your desk to process postal mail, jot down notes, or collate materials, among other things.

Here are some pointers on how to create specific work areas at your desk:

Create a list of desk tasks.

What types of tasks do you perform at your desk? Do you spend time typing, reading reports, filing papers, writing checks, sketching illustrations, collating presentation materials, or reviewing blueprints? Make a quick list of common daily or weekly tasks.

Map out areas on your desk according to tasks.

Make a quick sketch of the top of your desk and divide it into nine sections, kind of like a tic-tac-toe board. Write in where you’ll perform various tasks. For example, in what sections will you use your computer, sort through mail, or review a large printout?

Adjust the location of computers, phones and lamps, as needed.

Now that you’ve got your desk mapped out, it’s time to do some rearranging. Depending on your current setup, you may need to move or adjust the location of your computer or phone so that it matches work areas.

Make it easy to identify work area start and end points.

Designate areas of your desk by using a colorful blotter, a decorative shelf liner, or by placing office supplies at varying intervals on your desk.

Store office supplies

Having office supplies at your desk shouldn’t be an exercise in constantly searching for what you need.

Everything should be within an arm’s reach, and properly stored too!

Here are some tips on how to get a better handle on your supplies:

Identify must-have office supplies.

What office supplies do you need for work? Space is limited on the top of any desk, so items should be used everyday, or nearly everyday. Infrequently used supplies should be placed in a nearby desk drawer, on shelves, or stored in another area of the office.

Round up office supplies.

Gather up all the items you need. Here’s a quick office supply list to get you started: pencils, pens, erasers, scissors, tape, stapler, staples, staple remover, pushpins, binder clips, envelopes, letterhead, stamps, ruler, hole puncher, letter opener, calculator, etc.

Be smart about storage.

Keep supplies contained in a single area of your desk, such as the far left or right corner. Use either a desk caddy or several uniformly sized and stackable metal, plastic or wooden containers to make the most of your space.

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Clear out a desk drawer or two.

Take a few minutes to clean out a desk drawer. Make sure you can close the drawer completely without any problems. Use flat, shallow containers or trays to store supplies so things don’t roll around.

Make use of vertical space.

See if there’s any overhead shelving or cabinets you can use for storage. Be sure to take stock of walls and other areas near your desk. Hang supplies in wall pouches, set up floating shelves or store small items in magnetic containers on metal filing cabinets.

Corral files

We may be living in the digital age, but paper files are still used in many offices.

Files need to be properly contained, not only so things look tidy, but so you can find what you need in the blink of an eye.

Here are some tips to help you organize the files on your desk:

Store files in an organizer.

Don’t have a file organizer? Now’s the time to get one! Not only does an organizer keep things tidy, but it also limits the amount of files you can have sitting on top of your desk at any time. Choose a horizontal or vertical organizer made of your favorite material, be it plastic, wood, or metal.

Keep active files on top of your desk.

Go through the files on your desk. Which are active and which are inactive? Current files should stay at your desk, while inactive files should be placed in archived storage. Work in a shared space? You may want to reconsider keeping highly sensitive documents on top of your desk. Lock these documents in a secure filing cabinet or drawer instead.

Create a storage system.

It doesn’t matter how you organize your files, so long as the system makes sense to you. Alphabetize, group similar file types together (i.e. client files with client files), or assign areas of your organizer for specific files. You may want to label the different sections of your organizer to help you remember which files go where.