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How to Organize Your Office Desk in 7 Effective Steps

An organized desk can be the start of an organized work life too. Read on for a few simple steps for decluttering your office desk.

By Fellow.app  •   September 20, 2022  •   5 min read

If you have trouble keeping your workspace organized, know that you’re not alone. After all, a hectic work schedule doesn’t always leave you with the time or motivation to straighten up your desk. But, making some room in your workday for a little office organization can offer enough benefits to make the extra effort worthwhile. Keep reading for some helpful tips on how to organize your office desk. 

How to organize your office desk: In 7 steps

Desks come with lots of surface area and plenty of storage space, so they can get cluttered without a system in place. The good news is that you can easily turn a messy desk around! You just need the proper organization tools and the right know-how to get (and stay) organized. The steps below are an excellent place to start.

1Clear and clean your desk area

Sometimes your desktop surface can fill up to the point that your work will overflow into your storage areas. Stacks of paper, dropped office supplies, or a layer of sticky notes can make it challenging to find anything in your work environment. Cleaning up any forgotten pens or paper clips while removing anything you don’t need anymore gives you more space to work and declutters and organizes your desk. Plus, it’s easier to find important information around your desk without all that clutter.

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2Add organizational features

Often, organizing your desk comes down to gathering loose office supplies and piles of paper in just one area. While sticking each of them into their own desk drawer is an option, there are several tools that can make it a bit more convenient. For example, the (very appropriately named) desk organizer has plenty of convenient storage space for all your essential office supplies. You can also find all kinds of baskets, monitor risers, and pen holders you can use to stay organized long-term.

3Manage your cables

Messy wires under your desk are usually a real eyesore, plus they get in the way. That’s why it’s important to practice proper wire management. Think about it like this: It’s hard to escape wires and cables since the typical work environment is full of screens. But that doesn’t mean your cables have to stand out. 

One good practice is to label each wire so you can tell at a glance which one goes to which device. Another option is bundling up loose cables with special heat-, cold-, and puncture-resistant sleeves made from nylon or fiberglass. An even simpler solution is to hide your cords in a decorative box. This way, they’re out of sight and out of mind – well, at least until you have to move your computer. 

4Keep only what you need on your desk

An organized desk is set up for a clear purpose. That often means getting rid of anything that’s not essential to your job. And seriously – you’d be surprised how much valuable desk space unnecessary things start taking up over time. 

There are some quick ways to get your work environment back into shape. One strategy is to remove everything but the essentials from your desk and only put back only what you’ll need for your job. After that, you can find a new home for any items that don’t make the cut.

5Group similar items together

Keeping similar items in one place can make them easier to find whenever you need them. For example, a dedicated office supply drawer can be more organized than a few pencils, post-it notes, and paperclips scattered across your desk. Plus, the more supplies you move to new homes, the more spaces open up to organize other items. 

6Always keep open desk space

Working with a big document on a tiny desk can be a little stressful. That’s also true if you have a big desk with only a small part that’s totally uncluttered. You can take the time to clear everything away, of course. But a good way to keep this from happening in the first place is to set part of your desk as off-limits. That means not putting anything there – anything – that doesn’t have a reason to be there. 

Treating part of your desk like it should always be clear can help you learn to put things away once you’re done with them. Sticking with this trick can help you avoid any potential long-term clutter build-up.

7Clean up before you log off

Coming into work and seeing a messy desk isn’t exactly the most encouraging thing to see at the start of your day. A clean desk can have the opposite effect – and you can make it happen every day if you clear your space before you log off. Clearing your space today can help you prepare for a more productive tomorrow.

Benefits of an organized desk

Now that you have some organization tips, you might be wondering just how much tidying your desk can help. Taking the time to get your desk organized can have some big benefits for your productivity and work quality. These benefits are explained below.

1Helps you get more done

While a clean desk isn’t the be-all and end-all of productivity, an organized workstation can certainly save you time. In an uncluttered work environment, everything you need is right within reach and easy to find. You won’t lose time looking through desk drawers or scattered papers to find the right tool or document. That means you’ll get more done overall. 

2Limits visual distractions

A 2017 Current Psychology study found that people with cluttered workspaces are more likely to procrastinate. A messy work environment like this can make it tough to focus on your work because there’s so much pulling at your attention. Tidying your space means removing these potential distractions, which can help you focus on one thing at a time and do better work. 

3Helps create positive mental energy

The Harvard Business Review has reported that an unorganized desk can have a poor effect on your mental health. A clean workspace does the exact opposite, and organizing your desk can help make your space as stress-free as possible. This, in turn, can lead to you being more engaged with your work – and then, higher productivity and satisfaction with a job well done. 

With organization comes success

Taking the time to organize your desk is only the first step to taking control of your work life. You should also look beyond your desk into your computer – software can be a huge help. For example, with Fellow, a professional meeting tool, you can tidy up your meetings with clear meeting agendas. You’ll also find tools for taking meeting notes in real-time, sharing them with your team, and organizing them in a clear stream. It’s a great way to clean up your meetings so you and your team can work at your best.

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