In a mess? It’s time to declutter your desk!

- September 3, 2007 3 MIN READ

The way your desk is set up is crucial to your productivity, efficiency and wellbeing. How many times have you ‘lost’ things in the sea of paper around your keyboard or felt overwhelmed by the mess? It’s time to declutter your desk.

Don’t underestimate how crucial the basics are and take the time to give your space a mini-makeover. You will feel better working in a clutter free environment and be more productive having all the necessary tools and resources at hand.  By following this basic recipe, you’ll find it easy to declutter your desk and your work space.

You will need

  • an hour or more
  • your desk space and related items including the furniture and its contents
  • rubbish and recycling bins
  • an empty cardboard carton for op shop items


1. Relocate your desk away from traffic areas.

2. Clear everything off your desk and off any shelves in the immediate area, but leave organising your drawers until last.

3. Cull as you go, returning the most commonly used items to your desktop first. This usually includes your computer, keyboard, mouse, pencil cup, telephone and any files or reference materials used on a daily basis.

4. Then return secondary items including your printer, scanner and rubbish bin. Any files that have to be kept but that are not used for working should be archived.

Tips for…

Keeping your desk tidy

It’s not inspiring to walk into a space dominated by mess and clutter, so it’s a good idea to clear your desk at the end of each working day. This contributes to visual clarity and provides a ‘fresh start’ when you sit down to work the next time. It is also important to keep the right balance between messy productivity and having an occasional clear up during the day.

Want more articles like this? Check out the office administration section.

Organising your work space

Your work space needs to be well-lit and task lighting, in the form of a desk lamp, will ensure you can work comfortably. Natural light is also important, as is fresh air, to give you a sense of wellbeing and comfort.

If your work space is small – or your desk is in a shared space – you will need to be frugal and pare your desktop items back to only the essentials. It’s likely that you use only 20 per cent of your tools and resources on a daily basis, so keep the essentials close at hand and be ruthless with the rest. Your work space will immediately look larger as a result.

Ergonomic elements

Your computer should be directly in front of you as you work, with your elbows at right angles and your computer screen an arm’s length away. Your mouse and keyboard should always be on the same horizontal surface.

Your computer screen should be in a position that avoids glare, as glare can cause headaches and eye strain, and you need to take regular breaks from your computer-based work.

Ensure you have a decent chair with good support, particularly on your lumbar, which is in the lower back.

Don’t forget to take frequent breaks – at least one an hour. Stand up, wriggle your arms and shake your legs. Gently stretch your neck from side to side And touch your toes. Fetch a drink, check your letterbox if you work from home or walk around the garden for five minutes.

You may consider these ergonomic tips irrelevant, but if ignored, the consequences can negatively influence your productivity, health and comfort.

Finally, try not to have your back to the door, so you know when someone enters the room and your work remains private. Also when you are discarding old equipment, resources or excess stationery, take them to the op shop.

Do you have any tips on how to declutter your desk? If so, post a comment and let us know what has or hasn’t worked for you.

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