They say that disorganization is a sign of a muddled mind. If you feel your home office desk reflects this, maybe it’s time to get your desk organized and make it easier to get things done. Even if your desk isn’t full of clutter, the tips below can help you find the best ways to organize and enhance your home workspace.
Step 1: Keep Unnecessary Items off the Desk
Keeping items off your desk is the first step towards an organized desk. The less clutter you add, the less mess you have to work around. You only need the essentials — your computer, phone, pen and paper, and enough elbow room to work. Remove things that often just end up placed there, such as watches, keys, wallets, mobile phones and charging cables. Many organization experts suggest keeping computer peripherals such as printers, speakers, modems, etc. off of the desktop as well. In addition, personal items, such as picture frames and tchotchkes, should be kept off of the desktop. Hang pictures on the wall along with other favorite wall art.
Install storage shelving on a wall adjacent to your desk or place a shelving unit, bookcase or filing cabinet next to it on which to set printers and other peripherals.
Keep cables for electronics bundled together with plastic ties or cord organizers, behind the desk or otherwise out of the way. Label plug ends of each cable with the name of the device for quick and easy connection or disconnection. You can use tape and a marker to create labels or use a label maker.
Periodically clean the desktop, phone and computer with a clean cloth to remove dust and debris. Canned air is a good way to remove debris from keyboards, electronic components and any other hard-to-reach spaces where dust and debris may collect.
Step 2: Sort Items
Go through what’s already on your desk or in its drawers. Throw away all documents or items for which you no longer have any use. You may find items that you don’t necessarily need for work, but want to hold on to. Sort these items into a pile for storage elsewhere in a storage bin, box, or fireproof safe — if they are important documents that need to be preserved.
Shred documents you don’t want to keep if they have any kind of sensitive personal information, etc.
Create folders and/or bins for different types of documents. Separate them by whether they are short-term projects or long-term projects. Keep an inbox for mail and other incoming items to keep track of tasks and to formulate a to-do list.
Step 3: Organize Files
Come up with a filing system that makes sense for your needs. Label folders to make filing and retrieving documents quick and easy. Use a desk cabinet to store file folders, or if your desk doesn’t have one, you can purchase a filing cabinet to place beside your desk or under the desktop. Buy a cabinet with a minimum of two drawers. Make a habit of filing papers as soon as you are finished with them.
Pencils, pens, staplers and paper should be stowed away and off the desktop. Store tools and accessories in desk drawers, divided by type. Frequently used pens should be easy to access. Pen cups and similar containers only add to the clutter. Increase organization by storing pens and items in drawer organizers. Items you need but don’t use as frequently, such as paper clips, post-it notes, scissors, etc., can be grouped together, separately from items you use most.
Make it a routine to put items back in their designated places after you’ve finished using them or, at the end of the day, put everything away so your workspace is clean and organized for the next day’s duties.
Avoid “miscellaneous” folders, as these catch-all receptacles usually work against organizational efforts by encouraging you to keep things you probably don’t need.
To cut down on the amount of paper you file away, invest in a scanner so that you can digitize documents you need or want to keep. In most cases, you can then discard or shred the paper copy. Remember to keep your computer desktop tidy as well, by meticulously keeping folders organized and labeled correctly.
Make a habit of regularly backing up your computer data to an external drive or cloud service so that you don’t lose documents you have digitized.
Step 4: Think Beyond the Desk
Consider your office space overall. Work efficiency depends on desk organization as well as proper lighting, comfort and convenience.
Put some thought into what kind of lighting you want. Proper lighting reduces eyestrain, which is important because working at a computer for extended periods of time can contribute to eyestrain. If the room’s overhead lighting isn’t sufficient, place a lamp on the desk near your computer screen. Remember, though, to choose a lamp that doesn’t take up too much desktop space.
A new desk can also increase productivity, especially if you haven’t updated yours in years. The traditional desk might not be the best workstation for you. Desks now come in many different configurations and are built with ergonomics in mind and can be adapted to your working style.
Invest in a comfortable office chair. This is an area that might not seem important, but if you spend extra money on your office setup, an ergonomic chair can boost productivity and reduce strain and fatigue. Organize your workspace so that you can turn in your chair or roll a short distance to reach everything you need to work, without having to get up.
Alright! You’re done! Your desk organization job is done — time to get back to work.