The more cluttered our desks, the more distraction we’re putting up with, day in and day out. Loose pens and papers, file folders, sticky notes, staples, knickknacks, plants, paper clips, decorations, photos, business cards—they all divert us from our work. Eliminate the mess and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to focus on what really matters.
These seven helpful guidelines will show you how:
1. Remove excess stuff: Whatever you don’t reach for each day—scissors, highlighters, binders, pencils, snacks—should be moved off the desk or tossed. You’ll also want to declutter your bulletin board (do you really need that restaurant receipt from two years ago?), along with shoes or umbrellas you may have stashed beneath your desk
2. Keep essentials close by: Store supplies—like the aforementioned paper clips, pens, markers, note pads, scotch tape, and other items you use often—in containers in a desk drawer or drawers. Put like items together in each container. Books, binders and periodicals should go on shelves in your office or cube.
3. Label things: Use a label maker to tag shelves, files and drawers. Store current projects in clearly labeled folders in a standing file (yes, on your desk) so you see every file at a glance.
4. Place on your desk: A physical inbox for incoming snail mail and memos. Sort these once or twice a day—for action, to read, to file, to assign to others, and so on.
5. Organize and digitize: Sort through old files to find appropriate places for them, and archive completed files—either in file cabinets or by scanning them into PDFs. Also scan or type notes that may be floating around your desk or stuck to your computer.
6. Organize computer equipment: Consider putting your computer monitor on a stand; it will be at the correct height and you’ll have extra desk surface. Move your cable modem and other electronics under the desk and organize wires for recharging electronics together with Velcro tabs.
7. Clean each night: Spend five minutes at the end of the day cleaning your desk. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see a pristine workspace when you arrive at work the next morning!