Keeping your desk clean is a challenge for most knowledge workers. After all, you probably spend the bulk of your workday sitting at a desk and staring at your computer screen. That’s why it helps to have tricks up your sleeve to cut down on clutter, avoid messy habits and keep things tidy. Cleaning up your desk isn’t just about aesthetics; it can also help boost productivity. A neat workspace is less distracting and allows you to find essential documents more quickly. It can even improve how others perceive you as an employee or co-worker. In addition to looking nicer, keeping your desk organized also shows that you are detail-oriented and gives you one less thing to stress about during busy days or stressful deadlines.
Don’t keep everything on your desk
You probably have lots of things that you need on hand while you work—but that doesn’t mean they all have a place on your desk. If you’re keeping tons of papers on your desk, you might be impeding your ability to find what you’re looking for. Similarly, if you have a pile of random knick-knacks on your desk, it might be hard to focus on your tasks at hand. If you find that your desk is too cluttered, start by asking yourself why you’re keeping certain items on your desk in the first place. If it’s something you need on hand, find a more suitable place for it—whether that’s a file cabinet or a file drawer, a bookshelf or even a cork board. If it’s something you don’t really need, start weeding things out.
Use baskets and bins to tame your cables
Cables are a definite clutter problem, but they don’t have to be. You can tame your cables with baskets and bins that sit underneath your desk. If you’re not quite ready to install shelves on the underside of your desk, you can also use clips to corral the cables together. For particularly long cables, try wrapping them around a rubber band to keep them from sprawling on your desk. Of course, you can also just roll up your cables and put them away in a drawer when you’re not using them.
Keep the staples and paperclips together
If you use a lot of staples, it can be messy to leave them scattered about your desk. If you don’t want to buy a stapler, try to corral the staples with a paperclip instead. Similarly, if you use a lot of paperclips, it can be helpful to keep them in one place—whether that’s a large bowl or a small caddy.
Make use of walls and corners
If you have multiple monitors, it might be hard to keep them organized. Instead of letting them pile up on your desk or trying to organize them with cheap dividers, try hanging them on the wall. You can use command hooks, suction cup hooks or cable clips to keep them in place. You can also use the walls to corral things that don’t belong on your desk. For example, you can use a cork board to keep to-do lists, Post-it notes and inspirational quotes.
Try out spring cleaning rituals once a year
While we all want a clean desk, it can be difficult to maintain. To get yourself in a proper cleaning mindset, try to incorporate spring cleaning into your schedule once a year. Start by looking around your desk and deciding what you could get rid of. Are there papers that you don’t need? Are there files you could throw away? Are there mementos that could go to a friend or family member? Are there decorations you could switch out for something new and fresh? Try to do a few things each day—no matter how small—to keep your desk clean and organized. You might want to try the 1-in-10 technique, where you spend 10 minutes each day cleaning up a small part of your desk.
Avoid keeping food at your desk
The number one rule for keeping your desk clean is to avoid keeping food at your desk. Eating at your desk is not only bad for your health, but it can also lead to crumbs, spills and stains that make it difficult to keep your desk clean. If you’re hungry, eat at a designated break room or go to a nearby cafe. If you absolutely have to eat at your desk, at least keep a cleaning kit nearby, so you can quickly clean up any messes you make.
Use Hooks to Organize Your Desk Items
Hooks can be used to organize just about anything on your desk, including papers, folders, Post-it notes, headphones, pens, hats and even coats and bags. You can also use hooks to hang up artwork, posters or cork boards. Using a variety of different hooks can help you to declutter your desk. Try to choose hooks that will blend in with your desk, as well as the rest of your office’s decor.
Keeping your desk clean and tidy can be a challenge. To make things easier, start small and incorporate some of these cleaning tips into your daily routine. You may find that keeping your desk clean helps you stay more focused and productive throughout the day. And don’t forget that cleaning your desk doesn’t just mean cleaning your physical space. It also means cleaning up your digital clutter. Make sure you’re regularly deleting emails, unfollowing social media accounts you don’t use and getting rid of files you don’t need any more.