How to Always Have a Clean, Organized Desk in 5 Easy Steps

By Chelsea Babin

If your desk is filled with clutter or covered in dust it could be distracting you and ruining your productivity. But if you’re in the middle of a big project or eager to go home at the end of the day the last thing you want to do is spend thirty minutes cleaning and organizing your workspace. Instead of attacking it all at once, start implementing these 5 easy steps and you’ll always have a clean, organized desk.

1. Make a Schedule: If it’s up to you to keep your desk clean (i.e. your office doesn’t have janitors that dust or wipe down your desk, keyboard, other work surfaces), making a schedule and sticking to it is the best way to ensure that you don’t end up with a dust bunny hiding behind your monitor or week old dried drops of coffee on your keyboard. Wiping down your desk and your keyboard once a week will help keep things clean and you can schedule the deeper cleaning, like cleaning out your drawers, less frequently (like once a month or twice a year). You could even go as far as to schedule cleaning times like meetings in your email calendar and set reminders so you make sure it gets done.

2. Don’t Put Things Down: If you’re trying to stay organized and clutter free it’s important that you never put things down. Instead, when you’re tempted to put something down, put it away. If there’s a spot in your drawer for your stapler, why are you setting it on the edge of your desk? If there’s a file folder for that piece of paper, why are you tossing it off to the side? When things have places to go, putting them down only creates clutter and chaos. Instead, put them away.

3. Pick Up Five: Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we put things down instead of putting them away. Whether it’s because these items don’t have a dedicated place to go or we’re simply too busy to bother, this can create some serious clutter and mess on your desk. If you’ve got mountains of things that need to be sorted through don’t tackle it all at once, instead, use the “pick up five” method. Whether you do it once at the beginning and end of the day or every time you come back to your desk from a break, the “pick up five” method is fairly self explanatory: you pick up five things and then continue on with your other work. This way you’re regularly making a dent in your clutter but you’re only taking a minute or so out of your day.

4. Weekly Purge: You have piles of papers on your desk that you could throw away if you scanned them and kept the digital copy. You have pens lying around that you know are out of ink but haven’t managed to toss out. Whatever little, annoying clutter is clogging up your workspace, you should make it a priority to set five to ten minutes of your time aside, once a week, to purge the clutter and get back to that well organized space you started with on your first day.

5. Brainstorming: If you ever have to find innovative solutions or brainstorm creative ideas, you know how frustrating it can be to just sit there and not be able to think of anything. One great brainstorming tactic is to do something mindless while keeping the problem in the back of your mind. Cleaning and organizing can be great, relatively mindless tasks to use to your brainstorming advantage! You’ll have a clean workspace and an easier time coming up with creative solutions in no time.

It’s not hard to have a clean, organized workspace, no matter how busy you are. If you can set aside small chunks of time, stick to your schedule, or use cleaning as a way to get through brainstorming, you’ll be able to increase your productivity and have a clean, well-organized workspace.

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