How to Organize Your Desk

How to Organize Your Desk

Do you want to get yours sorted?

If it’s a dumping ground for pens, papers and various bits and pieces you're sure you’ll need 'some time', these tips may be just what you need...

Even if you don't have a messy desk it won't necessarily be functioning as well as it could.

Keep an organized desk, though, and you'll...

  1. Boost your productivity. An organized desk means you know where what you want is and you can get hold of it quickly. You become more efficient.
  2. Actually enjoy using it. If you know you can ‘trust’ your desk to serve you (after all, that’s what it’s for), and it almost invites you to sit at it, you’ll want to use it more.

But many of us spend a good chunk of our working days at a cluttered desk.


Because an organized desk has to be created and then maintained.

Which takes effort.

The key is to know how to organize your desk and to keep it that way with the minimum amount of mental resistance to doing so.

How to organize your desk

Fence off some time

As you’ll know from the theme of this site, whatever you do, don’t do it as a knee jerk reaction. Please don’t get up after reading this and start turning your desk into ‘Central Command’.

Instead, schedule a time at a later date and do it then. This is a great way to manage your time and, if the opposite is true and you put it off, a wonderful cure for procrastination.

Clear the lot

Clear everything off the surface and from the drawers. Display them all if you can, preferably somewhere other than on the desk itself. This will highlight what you have and help you decide what to keep. You should now have a perfectly bare desk.

Measure your arm

The Golden Rule for an organized desk? Can you reach what you want? Is it at arm’s length? If you have to get out of your chair you won’t want to use it. Stay seated and you will.

On the desktop, daily planners are one of the few visible time management tools that deserve to be seen, along with your most used digital devices and, if you know how to organize paperwork, today’s items to be dealt with.

A desk drawer organizer allows you to keep a well stocked supply of those everyday essentials -– pens, paperclips, notepads and anything else you use on a daily basis. In there, they’re close, but out of sight.

Left or right?

If you really want to know how to organize your desk, give some thought to what goes where in relation to the hand you use to write, process paperwork or pick up the phone with.

A little planning goes a long way here.

Keep important files close

Does your desk have draws for paper filing? Many could and should be digitally filed, but some clearly can’t be.

Apply the Pareto Principle to ensure you have easy access to those physical files you use and rely on most, and use a system so you know how to organize files effectively.

Develop an end of day routine

Before you leave, put everything back where it belongs. This is the key to keeping an organized desk and the effort it takes to do so is invariably worth it in terms of time saved not hunting for things that have been ‘lost’.

You’re probably tired at this point. But you’ll find it much easier to do this daily once you know how to avoid procrastination by time boxing.

This will help you make it as easy to do as you need it to be.

Permission to ‘fail’

Nobody keeps a perfectly organized desk. From time to time, we all dump stuff without dealing with it efficiently all the time.When you do, don’t give up. Get back into your ‘tidy as you go’ habit. The more you do it, the easier it is to maintain.

That’s it! All you need to do to know how to organize your desk. Once you have it the way you want, you’ll look forward to using it.

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