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Desk Organization Tips

Six smart ways to organize your workspace

Need a productivity boost? Maybe it’s time to re-organize your desk. Experts say that a cluttered desk is a reflection of a cluttered brain. Here are six smart ways to organize your desk that will keep you organized and focused.

Start Fresh. Take everything off your desk and put in neatly on the floor next to you, suggests pro organizer Karen Baumgartner of Stop Screamin’, Start Dreamin’ (betterorganization.com). “I bet you’ll find that 90 percent of the things on your desk aren’t things you use all of the time—or even need anymore,” she says. Throw out items that are no longer needed, and put in storage (with clear labels) those documents that you must refer to from time to time. “Then, it’s time to decide what really needs to be put back,” Baumgartner says. Limit such items to a few desk accessories (like your favorite pen set) and files that are immediate “to-dos.”

Hit the Drawers. Conduct a similar assessment with the contents of your desk drawers. Put like items in piles where you can see them before determining whether you should toss, file, or put in deep storage. Group similar items together. For example, you might group together all work that’s in progress for a certain client. Or you may file together all current marketing initiatives or prospecting efforts. Of course, some items will be bound for the trash. If you’re not sure whether to toss something, ask yourself, “How often do I use this?” If the answer is “never,” it’s time to throw the item away. Store items that you use frequently at close range.

Reconsider Equipment & Supply Needs. Are you still using that old printer in the corner of your office—or has it been replaced with a better one? How about the old fax machine that you always meant to repair? Do you still use the five bottles of liquid correctional fluid that are stored in your desk drawers? Take an equipment and supply inventory and toss, or give to charity, items that you no longer use.

Have an Inbox. It may sound old-fashioned, but a physical inbox (not just an email one) is necessary to separate new, incoming papers from what’s already on your desk. Set aside five minutes at the end of each day to sort items from your inbox and put them in the proper place.

Place a Trash Can Nearby. The closer to your desk a trash can is, the better, says Baumgartner. “You’re less likely to throw something away if you have to go across the room, or into another room, to do it,” she says.

Clean as You Go. If you do a daily spee- clean, you’ll be less overwhelmed that if you wait until once a month (or longer) to clean your desk. Play a quick “what can I get rid of?” game with yourself right before you leave your workspace each night, and you’ll arrive in the morning ready to work in a nice, uncluttered space.