A neat and organized desk is the perfect marriage of form and function. It keeps all of your most-used items within reach, while also looking good enough to make you look forward to work every day (at least a little bit). By having a place for everything, and keeping everything in its place, you can save time, and stress, by knowing where anything you could be looking for is before you start an exhaustive search.
You don’t have to take on this project alone though. These organizing desk ideas will make it easy for you to keep your desk (and desktop) organized.
1. Make a list of what you actually need.
Before you can have an organized desktop, one of the best organizing desk ideas is to ask yourself what you really need to get through your day. If you’re working from home, taking a look at your weekly calendar is a great way to start this process. Just start out by listing the items you know you’ll need, then see what items you have are just “nice-to-haves.” Everyone’s list is different, and can be very different lengths, so asking yourself whether or not you personally need a given item is a good way to start your office desk organization.
Are you referring to some paper files regularly? Do you whip out that rhyming dictionary daily? Have your headphones become a necessary escape from the chaos of a full house? If so, those items all make the list. Don’t feel like you have to fill a page though, less is probably a better way to go.
2. Cut everything that didn’t make the list
While you don’t have to throw out everything that didn’t make your list, the best way to organize a desk is to understand that it’s not worth it to keep everything on your desk. Take everything that is currently cluttering up your workspace, and didn’t make it on the list, and find it a new home. A good rule of thumb is to keep things closer to your desk based on how often you might need them. If it’s something you’ll need once a week, it shouldn’t leave your office area. If it’s only a yearly grab? Tuck it away in a closet, but don’t forget where you put it! Getting a good file system for the few paper files we all have floating around is a great start. And any storage solution can keep your weekly needs close enough, but remember these organizing desk ideas are meant to remove clutter, not add to it.
3. Do some digital decluttering
Your computer’s desktop is a great place to keep files you want to jump back to, but just like your physical desk, it can get pretty cluttered fast. And no one wants to have a messy desktop when you’re using video conferencing software to screen share. The best way to make your desktop look cool is to take a few minutes and get your digital workspace looking as clean as your physical one with just a few tricks.
First things first, is to sort and organize your icons. This is pretty easy to do, and most operating systems just need you to right-click on your desktop, go to “Sort by,” and choose how you want them organized. Doing so by “Item type” is a great way to find that pesky PowerPoint you keep meaning to find a home for.
Once you have the lay of the digital landscape, try organizing your files into folders. Just right-click and say “New” then “Folder.” Give it a name, a project name or file type works well, then drop all the applicable files in there. After you have things sorted, start a folder called “Archive.” When projects are wrapped up, you can drop those files in there to free up some space.
4. Only use space if you really need it
After you’ve found the items that you don’t think you’ll need very often, and stored them away, you’re first thought might be, “My desk is so empty now!” If that’s the case, you have to fight the urge to keep adding more items. Whenever you have a new gadget, a good book, or even the never-ending line of coffee cups, make sure that you ask yourself, “Is this something I’ll really need every day?” If these new items aren’t for every-day use, use the same tactics you did for your existing stuff and keep it handy, but not on your desk. Doing this will make it so you don’t have to repeat the entire process all that often.
5. Keep up the upkeep
So you have a clean desk and organized desktop, great! Now you have to keep it that way. Even if you stick to the rule about ranking new items based on how often you’ll use them, eventually new things will sneak through. It happens to everyone, and that’s ok. But, with a little foresight, you can be ready to tackle any new clutter before it becomes a catastrophe. Put a reminder in your calendar to take some time every week to do a little maintenance. Then, once every three to six months, set aside enough time to do an whole new sweep. Your needs will change over that time, so things that you might have needed every day can change. Looking at your desktop with the fresh eyes you’ve developed, and doing that regularly, can make it so you’re organized and ready to take on whatever project comes your way.
Clutter is a constant in modern work and life, but it doesn’t have to be. If you utilize the five steps we’ve laid out above, you can easily keep both your digital and physical workspaces clean and organized. That organization means you won’t have to waste time looking for that one file you know you had, or that one piece of mail you thought you saw somewhere, it’s all in the space where it needs to be.