This week's organizing challenge is something that will benefit you for weeks to come: clean off your home office desk.
If your workspace gets cluttered with piles of paper, receipts, and random things that don't have a home – then it is going to be really hard to focus on the important tasks in life.
However, decluttering your desk the right way means that you have to go way beyond the simple act of putting things away.
It all comes down to habits and routines.
Once your desk is clean, you need to make sure that you take daily actions to keep it that way.
So, let's get started.
Organize Your Desk
The first thing you need to do is organize your desk.
- Devote some time to the task – do it all at once or carve out an hour a day to get things done.
- If anything is time sensitive deal with it first.
- Create piles grouped by task – to file, to pay, to shred, etc.
- Once your piles are ready, tackle one at a time.
- Add a few desk organizers – but only if they help. I like this set at Erin Condren.
Once you follow these steps – your desk should be clear.
BUT – you are NOT done yet!
If you stop here, the clutter will creep back in.
Why Does Your Desk Get Cluttered?
What you need to do now, is understand why your desk got cluttered in the first place.
The reasons will be different for every person – but if you can tackle the problem then keeping your desk clear going forward will be much easier.
Here are some common reasons and what you can do about it.
Get Rid of Charging and Cable Clutter
One of the biggest sources of home office desk clutter is charging cables and devices.
We have so many things that need to be charged – phones, tablets, headphones – even flashlights.
The easiest way to reduce charging clutter is to create a dedicated charging station somewhere other than your desk.
You can certainly place it close to your desk – especially if you need easy access to your devices throughout the day – but just keep it away from your desktop.
Some ideas include:
- a credenza,
- the top of a file cabinet in your home office (here are 10 fancy file cabinets to choose from)
- an open shelf, or
- just a small table placed close to an outlet.
Make sure you get a good power strip with surge protector to protect your electronics.
Paper clutter is real and it is hard to control.
Set aside time every evening to sort through any papers that have found their way onto your desk.
Create a system of inboxes or file folders that you use daily to process this paperwork.
Your inboxes could be physical inbox trays that you keep on your desk or virtual inboxes that where you scan your papers into.
The most important thing is to PROCESS them down to empty on a daily basis.
This means that you have to break the habit of using an inbox to store papers.
Rather, think of your inbox as a temporary holding place.
While you may understand this philosophically – if you don't have adequate storage for permanently filing your paperwork, it is still going to pile up.
On the other hand, if you do have a roomy filing cabinet, it is possible that you don't have your filing categories set up in a functional way.
Take a look at these file cabinet organization categories and revamp your filing system.
You may also want to consider setting up a paperless system for your home office.
Excess Office Supplies
Another culprit of the messy desk is too many office supplies.
Those things that are supposed to help you get organized – can actually create more disorganization if you have too many of them.
I love pretty pens, planners, stickers, notebooks – you name it.
But, when they are scattered all over my desk I start to feel overwhelmed.
The solution is usually pretty simple – put them away in a drawer or on a shelf.
The problem is that I don't have enough drawer or shelf space – so they end up on my desk.
To solve this problem you need to do two things.
First, figure out if you really need everything that you have.
Keep a few favorite things out and put the rest in a bin and rotate what you use.
If you do need to keep all your supplies within close reach, consider getting some additional drawers and shelf space to accommodate the overflow.
Remember the goal is to keep your desk clean, so you need to open up space to store your office supplies.
They may not be the best looking things on the market, but I really like a clear plastic drawer rolling cart for this.
The clear drawers make it easy to see what you have stored inside.
Many of these carts will fit underneath your home office desk (just measure to make sure).
And, down the road, if you don't need it in your home office anymore, you can repurpose the cart for additional storage in a different room in your house.
Here is your organizing challenge.
Start this week by cleaning off the surface of your desk.
Make it neat and tidy so you can focus clearly on your next steps.
Then identify what kinds of clutter tend to creep in and sabotage your efforts.
Once you know what is causing the issues – figure out what you can do to keep it from happening.
Be sure to set time aside DAILY to work on organizing your home office space.
Your time commitment will be large at first, but once you get into the habit, you may only need a few minutes every day and a longer session once a week.
You are now on the road to keeping your desk organized and clutter free.
And remember you can apply these principles to help you clean up any problem area in a messy house.