It's said that a cluttered desk means a cluttered mind. So what about a structured, organized desk? We believe it indicates an efficient and driven mind. Most of us have a desk, office, or workspace, whether that’s in an office building or at home. In order to be really effective in any kind of work environment, it’s important to get rid of the clutter, organize what's left, and individualize so your workspace is a place you want to be.
When you look at your desk, you might find it messy: desk toys, sticky notes everywhere, disorganized papers spread around—a bit like Michael Scott’s desk.
You’ll want to start the process of creating an effective workspace by going after useless things like desk toys and paperweights. If you don’t have anything on your desk that’s totally useless, congrats! You’re already on your way.
Reducing clutter means more than just getting rid of stuff you don’t need—it also means organizing what you do need. Utilize your drawer space and make sure everything has a place. One idea here is to put things you use most often (like pens and paper clips) in the top drawer, frequently used items in the next drawer down, important but rarely used documents in the bottom drawer, and so on.
Then it's time to move to the space around your desk. You probably that you have a mess of tangled cords and cables under or behind your desk. Keep your cords looped to the necessary length with twist ties or cord burritos so you don’t have to sort through a tangled pile to unplug one device.
If you do have a nest of cables in your workspace, then that means you have the opportunity to digitize your physical files. This will make a huge difference in organizing your desk, so utilize all the options available! Google Drive and Dropbox are just some of the tools for creating, storing, and sharing all types of documents. Experiment with what works best for your job, but try to use digital options instead of printing or faxing. You’ll save money, time, and space if you don’t have piles of paperwork and don’t need ink or a printer.
For those physical documents that you already have, scan them and save them either online or to a hard drive—or both—and then throw them out. You can check out our posts on scanning and storing receipts and photos; many of these apps will work well for full-size documents as well.
If you absolutely need to produce and keep physical documents, make sure you have a multifunctional product to get the job done: a printer that can scan, email, and fax documents, or a calendar with space for notes so you can write goals for each week or month. A calendar like this will also reduce your need to have sticky notes all over your computer and desk. Remember, the goal here is to take advantage of modern tools to reduce what you can and organize what’s left.
Last, don’t forget to make your workspace your own. Start with applying the necessities that come with your job. For example, people in a variety of professions could benefit from a bookshelf—an editor will need shelves to refer to the many different style guides in the industry, or a professor would need lots of books in order to prepare lessons, write papers, and help students with research. Of course, not everyone will need a bookshelf, but it can be a handy place to keep books, binders, portfolios, and other physical documents you may need to have. The main idea is to keep it functional, but don't crowd your workspace.
You might want to keep a source of inspiration or miniature escape nearby. This could be a painting, a photograph, or speakers for your favorite music. Again, keep it minimal so you don’t clutter up your desk again, but something that helps you take your mind off work for a few minutes can really help you be more effective when you get back into the grind.
The overall aim of a minimal and organized workspace is to become more effective in your work. It's been proven over and over again that writing down your goals will make you significantly more likely to achieve them. With this in mind, strongly consider keeping a board of your goals to keep you focused and driven. Keep it updated with long-term and short-term goals, and put it somewhere prominent so you're always reminded of where you've been and what you want to achieve.
Remember, however you design your workspace, minimize distractions and clutter for maximum concentration. Organize what you need to keep so you don't waste any time. Add your own touches to make your workspace your own. Above all, write down your goals and keep them in mind in everything you do, so you can get where you want to be.