Tuesday Tip: Pare Down Your Desk to Maximize Your Productivity and Success

Tuesday Tip: Pare Down Your Desk to Maximize Your Productivity and Success

By Yehudit Garmaise

With a few simple new habits, even the messiest of us can keep our desks neat and tidy to focus on creating our best work and cut down on the time we waste looking for “that one scrap of paper.”

Staying organized starts with our phones, which we are less likely to lose than little bits of paper on which we scribble down notes, names, and numbers.

Whenever we make or receive calls, most of those people’s names, numbers, and organizations should be saved in our contacts, so we can easily find them again.

Also, the notes app and our email addresses and text numbers are great places to send thoughts and ideas we don’t want to forget later, instead of searching for scribbles amidst piles of paper. 

Organize your laptop. Name separate files to separate different types of projects on your computer so you don’t have to waste time searching through your entire hard drive or desk to find one particular document, article, or note.

Scan important documents and finished projects before storing them in carefully named computer files to avoid paper pile-ups. 

To tame the mess, store papers you want to keep off your desk: in neatly labeled file cabinets, file boxes, or hanging wall file organizers.

Invest in a few storage containers and organizers you like to stay on your desktop. Amazon, Target, and office stores sell stylish and functional matching desk accessories, such as pen holders, file folders, and document boxes, which can help you find places for everything you need to maximize your productivity. 

For inside your drawers: look for little bins and caddies to store little things like paper clips, Post-it notes, batteries, scissors, and drawer dividers to keep essentials easy to find and off your workspace.

Only keep materials for current projects on your desk. Constantly seeing a large to-do pile-up can cause anxiety. Storing information for future projects can help you focus on the most current projects that take priority. 

Only keep the essentials: Remove anything that is not work-related to stay focused only on work when you sit at your desk. At-home workers should find other places for their personal items and other projects. A laptop, a supply of pens you like, a notebook, and regularly used office items, such as a stapler, is likely all you need to create your masterpieces.

Store any bulk items out of sight: such as extra printer paper, extra pens, tissues, markers, and snacks, carefully organized in a closet so everything you need can be found easily when needed.

Before you leave your workspace for the day: take a few minutes to clear the day’s clutter and sort and file stray papers. Then wipe down your phone, laptop, and desktop so you don’t have to face yesterday’s crumbs and dust when you start to conquer your day: bright and early the next morning. A clean desk is where you can happily focus and work your magic.

Once a month, when it works for you, dedicate more time to clean your desk more deeply and realistically assess what can be tossed or filed to better focus on your most pressing projects.

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