When we all grew up and became adults, one thing did not change much from our childhood: in one way or another, almost all of us still have desks. Whether there’s one in your room at home, one in your college dorm, or one in your office job, we all spend at least some fraction of our adult lives at our desks. Some people have learned over the years and years of being responsible for desks since their grade school days that it is easiest to function with a clean and well-maintained desk.
If you are not one of these people, you might find your desk life a little more hectic than you might like it to be. You might lose things easily, because it was there yesterday but its not there today… or was it the day before when you saw it last? You’re not sure. But it was important.
Messy desk life has also caused you to be easily distracted. Even though you are trying to glue your eyes the computer screen, that paper crumpled over there in the corner might be that the receipt you were looking for to return that shirt you bought last week… but underneath that is the picture you and your significant other took on your trip to Hawaii. You wish you were in Hawaii right now.
Stress also plays a major role in the life of a messy desk. Not finding things can cause you to fall behind easily, and the last thing you need is another lecture from your boss or professor about late work. You might also lose things on your desk not related to school or work, like a gift card or someone’s present. You can misplace money and checks, just like that!
Its also not pleasant when other people notice that you tend to keep an unorganized desk. If its peers at college, the biggest deal is that they might judge you, which is not too big a deal. But what is a big deal is when your boss, or boss’ boss, comes into your work and sees that you are not able to keep your area clean. They are supposed to trust you, as an employee, to keep your desk clean in a professional way to reflect the standards of the company. If you are falling behind, and your desk is messy, then it becomes evident that this job really is in no way near your list of priorities.
What you need to do is become one of those “clean desk” people. Which isn’t necessarily easy, by the way, as it is hard to break years and years of the development of a bad habit, but it can be done! Through the initial decluttering process, hopefully you will start to realize some of the effects right away. You will get rid of things you no longer need, add things that will help keep you more organized, and maybe even find that thing you were looking for a few months ago but never thought you’d see again!
Imagine walking to your desk, wherever it may be, and sitting down to look for something and finding it right away because you know exactly where it is. That isn’t meant to be trivial, as a lot of us know that the struggle is very real. Hopefully, if you use this guide the right way, you might see a major change in your desk life, that will hopefully cause a neat change in the rest of your life as well.
Paperwork and Blueprint storage systems
Any college student or employee who spends their time at a desk knows that the number one source for clutter is paper. We get so many things handed to us that we are supposed to keep track of, and we are supposed to print out papers to give back. The whole thing can seem like a total nightmare, especially when it comes to deadlines. Even if you know you completed something in time, if you can’t find it, might as well have not done it at all. Teachers don’t give good grades and bosses don’t pay for, “I promise I did it.”
One nifty way to keep your paperwork organized in your office or workspace is the use of a Blueprint storage system. A Blueprint storage system not only offers a neat and compact way to store your papers all in one place, but it also allows you to organize however your situation requires. For example, in a college setting, you might organize your assignments by class, and then by due date. In a business office setting, you can use a Blueprint storage system to organize your clients alphabetically, or your paperwork by due date.
It is important that know exactly how you organized it, because if you intend to stay organized, then you need to maintain the organizational pattern for every future intended use.
Get rid of things that don’t belong.
There are so many things that do not belong anywhere on your desk. You might forget that this includes gum and candy wrappers, or receipts and old post-it notes, simply because that is where they have lived for so long. This is not the case. Their new home (except maybe the receipts, those you might want to keep somewhere at home) is the garbage can.
Its easy to cast aside whatever on your desk, especially when it feels like you’ve got a lot going on, or you think you’ll remember to do it later. This is almost never the case. If you were to keep a trash can under your desk, then it would take half of a second longer to lean under your desk to toss trash where it belongs. Putting it in a random drawer does not count either.
Dishes also do not have a place on your desk. The one exception might be a coffee cup, and if this is the case, then you should keep one coaster on your desk as a reminder.it also gives your coffee cup a specific place to live, so that the coffee cup doesn’t have a chance to get lost either.
Keep your decorations to a minimum.
Too many picture frames and plants and Pokémon balls on your desk only add to the overall dysfunction. You brought these things to liven your desk life, but really, you can’t see them half of the time anyways underneath all the clutter. Choosing one or two things might be acceptable, as long as they aren’t too much of a distraction from your work. If you want, consider changing the background on your computer or laptop to pictures of your family and close friends, instead of using the space of picture frames at your desk. You can also consider switching out your desk decorations every few weeks or so, if you are interested in changing things up a bit.
Sort the things you do use at your desk.
Desks tend to feature a variety of different tools, but when they are all over your desk of just in a pile inside of your drawer, it is hardly possible to use any of them. Take them all out of their messy hiding, and sort through them. You might find you have unnecessary multiples that you can take home or give away. Whatever you figure that you can use, you should organize into a drawer organizer or small bins inside your desk to keep all these things separate. This includes: pens/pencils/ highlighters, push pins and paperclips, staplers, hole punch/3-hole punch, whiteout, or other office materials. If you want to keep a small cup-holder for pencils and pens on your desk, then feel free to do so.
Keep your cords out of sight.
The cords to your lamp, laptop, cell phone, or other should not be on display all over your desk. Recoil the length of chargers and cords that you don’t need, and make sure any cord lengths you do need are kept behind your desk near the outlet or run along the back of the top of your desk. This way, there is no chance to get anything tangled or mangled or mangles or swished to the side by any cords you may need.
Now your desk should be pretty well sorted… the only issue left is making sure it stays that way. One tip: keep your desk clean. Use all purpose cleaner and a rag or paper towel to wipe your desk down. This way, it becomes easier for you to want to keep it clean in that way. Also, if you must, you can make labels for where everything goes in and on your desk. This might seem excessive, but whatever helps, helps!
Once you start enforcing the habit of putting stuff where it belongs after every time you use it and remembering to throw your trash away in the bin instead of on the desk, it gets easier and easier. You’ll find yourself less stressed, and more able to focus on your work. It will be hard to return to a bad habit after feeling this good!