5 tips for a perfectly organized desk
And yet designing and maintaining an organized workspace – whether you spend your whole day there, or just a few minutes here and there – is an achievable goal. We asked Estelle Gee, principal of the organizing company Orderly Lives to give us some pointers on how to organize the perfect desktop.
1 Start with the desk itself
“The first place you should start is the desk itself,” she says. If you’re just using your desk to pay bills or shop online, a small, attractive desk is fine, but if you do any kind of work at it, you need room to maneuver, you need at least one drawer and ideally two (one shallow one for desk accessories, and a deeper one for files), and you need an efficient paper handling and filing system.
2 Keep the surface of your desk uncluttered
Aim as much as possible to keep the surface of your desk uncluttered and clear; there’s a positive psychological aspect to this, as well as maximizing the amount of working space you have at your disposal.
“Think of your desk as the cockpit of an airplane,” Estelle says. “You want everything you use frequently to be close at hand but not in the way, and a layout that’s well organized, easy to understand and efficient.”
3 Desktop accessories: Do or don’t?
If you love attractive desktop accessories, by all means use them, but make sure they are out of the way of the “hot zone” (the live, working area) of your desk, or consider storing paperclips, Post-its and so on inside a desk drawer instead.
Estelle likes a product made by Rubbermaid that consists of small, modular baskets and bins that snap together and divide the drawer into manageable compartments. Plastic cutlery trays, baskets or cardboard boxes attached together to fit tightly into the drawer will work as well.
Find out more easy desk organization tips on the next page.4 Create systems
The principle to keeping your home office desk organized, efficient and attractive is to create systems that allow you to find what you need quickly, perform the task efficiently, and return everything to its proper place easily when you’re done. The daily mail is a perfect example.
Make sure you only open it right next to the shredder, recycling bin and wastebasket, and immediately process each piece you’re keeping: bills in a bills folder (or paid online and then filed), magazines in a magazine folder, appointment reminders marked in a desk diary and then recycled, etc.
5 Managing paperwork
There are entire books and articles on how to efficiently organize the mountain of paper that comes through our lives every day, but as far as your desktop is concerned, there are two principles that should govern how you use and store it: a) how quickly you need to retrieve it, and b) how to store it without adding to the general clutter.
“For your most important files, like projects you are currently working on, I like staggered vertical desktop file holders that allow you to see all of their subject labels at a glance.”
Another alternative is to make use of the wall space around the desk; you can buy clear plastic file pockets that mount on the walls, getting paperwork off your desk but still keeping it within reach. Papers you’re not working with any more but need to keep can be stored in the desk file drawer, in closed file boxes, or in a “morgue file” cabinet out of the way.
At the end of the day (or the end of each work session), take a few minutes to process, discard or put away everything left out on the desk. It’s tempting to place papers into neat piles that you’ll definitely go through in more detail tomorrow – but, believe us, within a day or two they’ll become part of the “landscape,” so to speak, and sooner than you think, you’ll be surrounded by teetering paper stalagmites.
“What you want to do is to stop the clutter before it starts,” says Estelle. “If you have systems in place that are easy to stick to, it makes you more productive and it makes your life much easier.”
Image courtesy of Pottery Barn