If you’re that person in the office whose desk resembles the set of a post-apocalyptic zombie film, don’t worry—every office has one (or a few). Yet a cluttered desk isn't just a visual or hygienic problem: studies have consistently shown that keeping a clean and organized workspace makes you more productive at the office. Take a look at these five easy steps to not only declutter your desk, but keep it that way for good.
1. Start From Scratch
This probably isn’t the first time you’ve yelled, “Enough!” and decided to fully commit to keeping a clean and organized workspace. However, simply having another cosmetic cleaning day is only going to lead back to the same old habits. In order to declutter your desk for good, organizational expert Peter Walsh suggests you ask yourself: What do I want from my office space, and is it meeting my needs? To start from scratch, take everything off of and out of your desk and place it in categorized boxes. Only then can you determine what you really need, and what items are wasting your desk’s precious real estate.
2. Divide Your Workspace Into Zones
Once you’ve decided how you want to utilize your space and what essentials you need to keep there, it’s time to organize your desk into zones for different work functions. For example, put all of your writing utensils and office supplies such as staples, scissors and calculators in an easily-accessible storage drawer, rather than scattered across your desktop. For books, large reports and other resource documents, designate a special library area towards the periphery of your workstation. And while many offices brag of going paperless, the reality is that most companies still use an exorbitant amount of paper for daily functions. To keep loose leaf paper out of the way, set up a specific storage zone that keeps these documents well-organized and readily available for when you need to access them in a hurry.
3. Invest in Organizational Tools
In order to keep your new workplace zones intact and relevant, you’ll want to invest in
a few organizational tools. A simple cork board is a great way to keep personal items, such as photos, post-its and to-do lists, out of your way. A drawer organizer will ensure that all of the little things—thumbtacks, paper clips, highlighters and extra tape—have a designated home in your storage drawer. And, most importantly, you’ll want to purchase a letter tray and file organizer to act as the centerpiece of your storage area. The Safco Mesh Desktop Organizer is a great example of an inexpensive, efficient file tray that will keep your documents and binders coordinated and off of your workspace.
4. Maintain Your Cables
We tend to focus on all of the papers and other knick-knacks that accumulate on our desks, yet we ignore the permanent and essential pieces of our workspace—the cables that power our devices. Cable clutter is often the most persistent form of desk clutter because most of us don’t realize there’s a very easy way to manage those troublesome cords. If you’re serious about organizing your desk to its fullest potential, invest in a docking station such as the Vertical Dock by Henge Docks. The Vertical Dock neatly manages the flow of cables in and out of your MacBook by repositioning them from the sides of your laptop to the back, all while opening up more space on your desktop. You’ll wonder how you ever survived without a cable management system in the first place.
5. Set a Cleaning Schedule
Cleaning and organizing your desk is easy—it’s keeping it clean and organized that’s the more difficult task. To ensure that your workspace doesn’t fall back into its dual role as a trash can, set a weekly or bi-weekly cleaningschedule. One of the best times to clean your desk is at the end of day on Friday: you won’t be distracted by work and it’s a great way to clear your head and transition into the weekend. Plus, you’ll arrive at work on Monday to a clean and more productive space.