Tips on How to Organize Your Work Desk at Home

by Marie

Guide to getting better organized with your work or home office desk. A neat and efficient space reflects a tidy mind, so let's help out with some quick fix tips you can use today.

You may well have a real aversion to clearing up and organizing your work desk. I am not particularly tidy myself so I know exactly how hard it can be to keep my small home office space well organized and clutter free so I know where to locate everything I need.

I used to think that a desk and computer monitor or laptop covered with sticky notes, sheets of paper and lots of other bits and pieces made it look like I was working really hard. But who was I kidding - it was just an excuse to leave it looking like a mess! Here's some handy tips from my own experience.

Tips and ideas on how to organize your work desk at home.
Tips and ideas on how to organize your work desk at home.
Image is in the Public Domain from Pixabay and has been altered by the author

Now I have a tiny home office which I share with a tumble dryer and a cat who is always vying for my attention, I have to keep the space tidy or I simply wouldn't want to come in here. It's not like having a big room where you can hide the mess in one corner. So, based on my own experience of working from home, I'm providing some tips on keeping your desk clear of clutter too.

Tidying up is the easy part; keeping your desk free of clutter is going to take a bit more work because part of it is trying to break old and messy habits. But by keeping your workspace simple and clean, you can create a space that actually looks a lot more inviting to sit down and work at whenever you need or want to.

If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk? ~ Dr. Laurence J. Peter

7 Tips on Organizing Your Home Office Work Desk

1) Simplicity is the key to a truly tidy work space.

What do you really need to keep on your desk and within really easy reach as you work? Take a really good look at all the items left on top of your work space and consider which ones you really cannot work without.

The way I tackled this task was to remove everything off the work top including the computer monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, clock - everything. First this gave me a great opportunity to give the top a really good clean and then I was able to see at a glance what the most important items were to put back. For example: I had two computer mice which I never used since I have a pen and tablet so they were the first items to go.

Everything added back was cleaned and then I questioned whether it was an essential item to my work and whether it was something I needed to use every day or just now and then. My number one tip here is to avoid over-stuffing the desk with items that you hardly ever use.

To help keep your desk tidy and clutter free, consider which items you really need to have out on the desk and which can
To help keep your desk tidy and clutter free, consider which items you really need to have out on the desk and which can
Image is in the Public Domain from Pixabay and has been altered by the author

If you know that a particular item is not something you need for every work session then why not put it away in where it is still accessible but not adding to the clutter on the desk - perhaps put it in a drawer, cupboard or on a shelf nearby.

For drawers or compartments in your work desk, I recommend completely emptying them out and employing the same technique. Consider every item you want to put back with whether it is something that is really going to be useful to your everyday tasks. If not, then it probably doesn't deserve to take up valuable real estate on your work space.

An Example of a Beautifully Tidy Home Office Desk

Wonderful example of a super tidy desk and home office space. The only thing I would change is to add a tray or pot for
Wonderful example of a super tidy desk and home office space. The only thing I would change is to add a tray or pot for
Image is in the Public Domain from Pixabay
2) Create a space to file papers that you absolutely need to keep.

Hunting for documents and papers that you need for work can waste a considerable amount of your time. So getting a system in place, from the start, that caters to your specific requirements will be of great benefit.

First consider whether you really do need to keep the papers or documents. Do you really need a printed copy? Or can you scan them into your computer or take photos of them to store as backups instead. If you don't need the papers, bin them. Sheets of paper can quickly build up and create a mess of documents for you to go through at a later date. So don't be afraid to dispose of papers that you really do not need.

My system is to use large plastic or cardboard wallets to store all my loose papers and documents that cannot be thrown away. Ones relating to finances are stored in wallets labeled clearly with the month and year. That's so I know which folders I can get rid of after 6 years have elapsed, according to UK policies on working from home. If the folder relates to the current month then it's kept within reach. Older folders are stored away since I'm not currently needing to use them.

Other folders contain papers and documents relating to specific projects that I'm working on. Current projects are kept at hand. With completed projects, I normally empty the contents of the folder and throw them away since they're no longer needed. Any papers which may still hold some future interest are put into a miscellaneous folder instead.

3) Choose sensible storage for writing implements that you really need.

These days, there's no real excuse for having pens and pencils rolling all around your desk and off onto the floor. You only need to store them in a desk drawer or in some type of pot holder (a large mug even) on top of the work space.

What writing equipment do you really need to complete your everyday tasks? I identified the following items below of being of particular use. Any other stationery and implements are certainly surplus to my requirements and are placed away in my office cupboard or in my desk drawer instead of on the surface.

My Own Useful Items: Consider What You Really Need
  • 2-3 biro pens: black in case of signing papers or filling important documents
  • a red and green pen for editing and marking printed text
  • a pencil and eraser for noting specific sections of interest in books
  • highlighter markers for quickly outlining key points in printed notes
  • correction fluid for erasing mistakes on documents
  • selection of colored white board pens for brainstorming
  • a long ruler and a small measuring tape
  • small stapler and sticky tape
4) Don't use a desk drawer like a waste paper bin!

I used to be guilty of this one. I was always shoving unwanted items into my drawer or using it to quickly make my space look tidy if someone was visiting. It ended up being a wasted area since I could never find anything useful in it. Now you can get special trays and drawer dividers to help you keep it tidy. I used my own plastic tubs to achieve just the same thing and to separate and divide different items while keeping the whole drawer tidy and easy to use.

5) Keep a waste-paper bin and/or shredder handy. 

Another mistake of mine was thinking that I didn't need a waste paper bin in the office. That was why I used my desk drawer like one instead. Having a large bin or even a shredder will encourage you to dispose of unwanted papers and rubbish immediately instead of simply hanging on to them and creating a mess.

6) Use a coaster for hot beverages.

Even though my desk is positively ancient (I like to call it shabby chic) and I know that I can get away without using a coaster, I found that by treating the desk with a modicum of respect helped me to want to keep it clean and tidy. A coaster helps to avoid nasty ring stains and cuts down on the mess. I also like to keep tissues handy to quickly wipe the desk if I manage to spill my drinks.

7) Tidy up your surface at the end of each work session. 

Why? Because starting the work day on a clean and clutter-free surface is a whole lot more appealing than desperately trying to free up a little space every time you want to sit down and get on with your job.

If your desk's already in a mess even before you start work, you may be put off from getting anything done. Or you might see it as an excuse to procrastinate if you waste time tidying up first every day. I hope you've enjoyed reading my wizzles page today, thanks for your visit. Just a few minutes of your time tidying your desk at the end of every work session will help you get off to a much better start when you're ready to get stuck in again.

Once you've cleared and organized your work surface you will save time trying to locate items lost under piles of clutter and will spend far more time on getting some actual work done.

What's the biggest mess on your desk?

Updated: 02/13/2016, Marie
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