Having a functional and clutter-free workspace is one of the best things you can do to create an environment that promotes the efficient management of your work and in essence, your employees. Most of us can benefit from some desk decluttering from time to time, but there are a number of ways to keep this cleaning and purging process quick and infrequent, saving you time and resources.

Your Desk

Your desk is a tool to facilitate your work. It is not a storage tool and was not constructed for holding up endless stacks of paper and gadgets. Ideally, the only thing that belongs on your desk is what you are currently working on. We don’t live in an ideal world, but that would produce the highest level of workspace efficiency.

There are two basic rules for optimal desk organization:

  • The most frequently used items must occupy the most convenient accessed space. The desk drawer that is easiest to access should hold the most frequently used tools or supplies. Prioritize your storage space by ease of accessibility and then do the same with your supplies and tools.
  • Always return an item to its place immediately after its use. Don’t put it down anywhere else. Always put it back in its proper place. Rule 1 gets you organized and rule 2 keeps you organized.

Your In-Box

With your in-box on your desk, there is always the risk of becoming distracted with conversation when people want to chat when they bring you something. If possible, put a hot file on the wall outside your office, or leave the in-box with a receptionist or in the mailroom. But by all means, get it out of your sight so you are not interrupted.

Office Furnishings/Accessories

Two items that will help you stay organized are vertical magazine holders and a vertical paper or document holder. Always avoid horizontal stacks. Keep everything vertical where you can see it. The danger with horizontal piles is that documents are out of sight, out of mind. We don’t want to lose or forget things and vertical storage eliminates almost all of the lost paper problems.

One of the easiest ways to accumulate clutter is using multiple note pads. No more sticky notes! Commit to one place where you write down all reminders and tasks. It will help you to see everything you need to accomplish and keep your desk clear of extra papers.

Consider a side table or credenza to store and organize some of the less frequent items you have in your office. Put it behind you or next to the desk, but not on top of the desk. Remember, your desk is a tool to facilitate your work, not a platform for holding piles of paper and gadgets.