Organize Your Way To A Tidy Work Space

June 21, 2017 | Karolina

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Messy desk photo

Is your computer monitor littered with Post-it Notes? Do you have mountains of loose-leaf paper covering your desk space and overflowing onto the floor? Do you have a collection of shoes and a mini-closet hiding under your desk?

The majority of us spend most of our time at work and sitting at a desk or cubicle. Your workspace is a reflection of you and keeping it tidy and making sure there isn't anything on display that might cause others to question your professionalism is very important. 

If you want some tips on how to organize your desk check out our collection on orderliness or these titles: 

 One year to an organized work life : from your desk to your deadlines, the week-by-week guide to eliminating office stress for good by Regina Leeds   The joy of less : a minimalist guide to declutter, organize, and simplify by Francine Jay   Organized enough : the anti-perfectionist's guide to getting--and staying--organized by Amanda Sullivan

A survey from the USA staffing firm OfficeTeam found that more than half of managers (54 percent) said that the most distracting or annoying aspect of employee workspaces is sloppiness or disorganization, and 15 percent have reported seeing an inappropriate or offensive item in an employee’s work area and/or too many knickknacks and decorations. 

Messy desk illustrationWe all know every office is guilty of having a messy area or two but an organized desk and office can lead to better office harmony and improved focus. A report last year by OfficeMax found that office clutter undermines productivity and motivation. “Your performance coincides with your workspace,” says Jennie Dede, vice president of recruiting for the staffing firm Adecco. “When it’s organized and precise you have the mindset and motivation to work.”

Why Should I Keep My Desk Clean?

Being well-organized, especially with your desk space, has numerous advantages in your career (according to "6 Reasons to Clean Off Your Desk" by

1. It makes you look more professional
Whether it's a desk or an outfit, a professional person takes pride in his or her appearance. View your desk from an outsider’s perspective and think about what it says about you.

2. It makes you more efficient
Filing things where they belong creates less surface clutter and as a result allows you to locate things quickly since you know where the items are located.

3. It ensures you have room to work
A functional desk will have lots of clear space where work items can be spread out and referenced.

4. It helps keep sensitive information safe
Leaving sensitive information visible and lying around on your desk can put you or your company at risk.

5. It keeps you on task
A messy desk can be overwhelming and it may be difficult to prioritize your projects if you are not organized.

6. It keeps your supplies in one place
“There are many studies showing that once a person gets up from something they are working on to look for supplies, they are much less likely to return to what they were working on when they left," says professional organizer Amanda LeBlanc. "Acrylics bins or drawer organizers are great for storing supplies and keeping them easily accessible and visible.”

How Do I Keep My Desk Clean?

If you want to be the owner of a clean desk but are not sure how to achieve that, came up with a great and easy suggestion for organizing your office space...divide up all your desk clutter into 7 categories:

illustration of organized cubicle
Illustration by Kate Francis (

1. Papers
(This includes mail, to-do lists, packets of stuff from meetings, notes, Post-its etc). Organize your papers into folders. You can also scan and save PDFs into folders on your computer of the things you will need to reference later on. 

2. Ephemera
(This includes anything sentimental or nostalgic that gives your desk character). Keep your desk looking professional by steering away from making it look like an antique shop or a teenager's bedroom. Limit the number of decorative items to 3-5 items. The rest should be put away in a special box or photographed.

3. Actual Tools
Keep only the bare necessities on your desk. This includes a cup to hold pens and pencils, a tape dispenser, a pair of scissors and a stapler. Everything else can be stored and organized in a drawer.

4. Things that belong in the kitchen
(This includes dirty coffee mugs, plastic forks, knives, spoons, water bottles and tupperware). Avoid taking your lunch at your desk. Also avoid making it look like you eat at your desk all the time. Clean your kitchen belongings right after using them and put them away into your lunch bag or desk drawer.

5. Clothing and shoes
Any clothing and shoes should be kept to a minimum and hidden from sight at all times. If these things don't fit in a drawer or closet, consider investing in a nice looking gym bag or tote that you can tuck away under your desk.

6. Garbage
As soon as something becomes trash throw it away.

7. Free Stuff
Don't let free stuff like key chains or gifts pile up. If they do not serve a work purpose throw them away or take it home.

When tidying your desk remember to aim to rid your desk of visual clutter by paring down the items on top to the essentials only. Once you've decluttered, dust all surfaces, disinfect your keyboard and wipe down your computer screen and have a happy and productive work day.