As much as I am organized, I am a complete clutter bug!! I love paper, and so little notes about this or that, papers I save, mail, books to read… they pile up around the house and on my desk. Since today is National Clean Off Your Desk Day, I thought I’d take a look at things you must do for a clutter-free desk and share how that worked out for me! (Because, you know, these magazine-perfect rooms are nice and all, but well, I actually LIVE and WORK at my desk!).
Sponsored by United Healthcare.
15 things you MUST do for a clutter free desk!
- Supposing you’re starting where I am, with piles of clutter all over… the first thing you must do is EMPTY your desk completely. I get a big copy paper box and just load everything up as my temporary Inbox, and generally I need a box this size when I’ve let things pile up! If you try to clean around all the stuff on your desk, you’ll just end up rearranging things, but won’t have reduced or solved your clutter problem. And as I keep hearing, “you can’t organize clutter!”
- Dust. With your desk empty, it’s a great time to scrub and clean every surface, getting all that dust and those coffee cup stains off! (Don’t want to spread toxic chemicals all over your workspace? How about these natural cleaning ideas?).
- Create files for your work. The two I recommend be on your desk top are INBOX and ACTIVE. Everything else should be filed “away” somewhere, like a drawer or file cabinet, but NOT on your desktop. If you don’t already have a filing system for bills, receipts, coupons, statements, etc., you’ll want to do this now, or have a stack of file folders and a marker handy to file as you go.
- Keep the items on your desk to a minimum. Consider what you actually need to do work: Computer. Writing utensils. Desktop scanner / printer (maybe?). Inbox/Active file. What else do you really need? Arrange your absolute necessities now, and get your desk looking the way you WANT it to look first. Our goal is to help it stay that way!
- Control the cords. By now you probably have 2-3 electrical items on your desk, but things are looking pretty clear. You’ll want to tie or up secure these cords out of the way, either with twisty ties, store-bought cord holders, binder clips, etc. There are lots of cute DIY projects out there on this topic, but just make sure none of them add more clutter to your workspace.
- Move the trash can and recycle can close enough to reach while you sit in your chair. This will allow you to quickly dispose of most paperwork right away!
- Remove duplicate office supplies. I know, it’s tempting to have multiple sized staplers, and a zillion fancy this and thats. But what are you really using!? See if you can use these duplicates in another workspace in the house, or for a kids’ study area. Take them to work, or simply donate them.
- Label all drawers and bins. This is important for those high stress moments when you’re thinking, “Where’s my health insurance policy!?” or “What drawer has my paperclips!?” If you label everything now while you’re organizing, you will have an easier time putting items away quickly.
- Make use of vertical space. Desk risers can hold a lamp on top, and supplies or blank paper underneath, for example. Walls can hold vertical file folders, bulletin boards, or even office supply caddies. Walls and doors, sides of bookshelves are handy places to stash things and get them OFF your desktop for less clutter.
- Make your to-do-list digital or vertical. Don’t let your to-do-list be a piece of paper (or many) that floats around your desktop and gets shuffled under other things. Keep your priorities visible and off your desktop by using an app, or a wall planner!
- Sort through remaining papers in your box. Hopefully you’re down to just papers at this point, since you already went through office supplies. Here’s how it’s going to work: pick up the first paper on top and don’t put it down until it is IN ITS SPOT! Not a “I’ll get to this later” spot. If it’s an appointment reminder card – mark it on your calendar or app, and recycle the paper. If it’s a paper you need for a job you’re working on, put that in your ACTIVE file (and note this as a task on a to-do-list). Just don’t, don’t, don’t make a new “stack” to clutter up your desk again.
- What about decorations? So now your giant Inbox should be empty. Maybe you have things to return to other parts of the house, or decorations. I’d avoid decorations that go on the desktop and stick to items you can hang up. Put everything else away.
Voila! Clear desktop. Now remember, the next time something crosses your desk, like that health insurance application… you’re either going to fill it out and send it in right away, or put it in your Active bin with a reminder on your to-do-list! Schedule a time each week to be sure your physical inbox is “zeroed out” and everything is tidy again!
Rememer, clutter can cause us stress! And I don’t need a fancy psychological article to tell me this, I’ve experience in my own life that sense of “I can’t get anything done in this place!” when I try to work with papers all over the place! So not only will decluttering your desk help you work better, but it’ll also boost your health!!
What are your MUST do tips for a clutter free desk?
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Sponsored by United Healthcare; I received compensation for sharing this message. All opinions are my own. I am not responsible for fulfilling giveaway prizes.