In case you are spending most of your work hours behind the desk, then you surely know how hard it can be to stay productive and work effectively when you are surrounded by a mess. As they say, a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind.
I’ve been there and done that. I used to lose a significant amount of time just searching for information and different files, desk supplies and asking myself “where the beep did I put my pen?!”, “how can that sticky note disappear?!” or “where did I save that file I just downloaded?!” Luckily, that has changed now since I discovered a few simple techniques to keep my desk and my work organized. Feel free to check them out and maybe contribute with some more ideas in the comments below.
How to organize your workspace? Practical tips and tested methods
Organize everything based on how often you use it.
I am a person who likes to keep things within an arm’s reach. So, whenever I need to switch between tasks, I can easily grab what I need. That’s why the way I organize my workspace is based on how often I use certain items. Of course, the needs of everyone during the work process are very individual but If you are looking for inspiration, I can give you a few ideas on how to make it effortless to access your most frequently used items and spend less time looking for stuff.
- Get some extra desk storage space. For instance, if you need many accessories such as writing materials, headphones, mic., adapters, camera, batteries, cards, etc., set a place for each of them. You can get a modular desk set or additional movable drawers and file-cabinet on wheels to add some extra storage space.
- Install a wall shelf for folders and secondary gear to make use of vertical space and keep things at an arm’s reach.
- Get a nice showcase to organize your folders, books or attractively display your collectibles.
- Use some cool storage boxes or baskets to keep things out of sight and store things you rarely use.
- Consider getting some desk stacking items to increase your organizational surface area.
An orderly desk reduces distractions and helps you to keep a clear mind so that you can focus on your tasks more effectively. I know that this is not a discovery, but, really, once you put those files, folders, and documents that you haven’t used in the last couple of months (or maybe a year) out of sight, you will feel much better. Clean up your workspace and sort through any old documents and folders, sticky notes, etc.
Keep the important things neatly in a few nice folders or pockets. Invest in however many folders you need to organize all the loose papers. If something isn’t important enough to put in a folder, throw it away.
What I like to do to reduce the clutter is to scan receipts, documents, photos, reminders, business cards, and whiteboard notes directly into my phone, so I can have them all in my pocket and don’t have to remember which drawer or folder I put them in. Then, I bin the hard copies I don’t need or store them out of sight in a folder. I usually apply this same logic to my computer desktop and mobile – just don’t keep too many unnecessary files or tabs on it and process or get rid of them before they bundle up too much.
Deal with the cable mess
I don’t know about you, but seeing a bunch of tangled wires can really distract me. Not to mention that it is a massive headache if you ever need to unplug something to move it elsewhere. But this is what the cable ties and adhesive hooks are made for. Seriously, get yourself some of these to make your life easy. Along with the multiple power strips, they help to organize your cables in a way that makes sense and is easy to access.
Invest in your comfort
It isn’t really possible to work comfortably and stay focused for many hours if your back and neck constantly hurt and you can’t find a suitable position in your desk. Therefore, an investment in your comfort is a must and will pay off with more productivity. What is more, an ergonomic workspace can prevent some serious health issues.
If you are setting up your home office, a good chair, a footrest, and a monitor/laptop stand is a good thing to start with. I can’t part with my laptop stand and it really makes it much more comfortable for me to spend hours on my laptop.
If you work in an office and you find your workspace uncomfortable, there are still some items that you can get for cheap to increase your level of comfort. Just, don’t underestimate the effect of discomfort relative to productivity because it is a totally different thing when you don’t have to think about your aches and stay focused for long periods of time.
Bring in some inspiration to your workspace
Adding some bits of your own personality to the workspace can make you feel cozier and more inspired. I keep flowerpots near my desk but you can add your favorite souvenir, a nice painting, or a reminder of your achievements. Anything that makes you feel good and brings joy.
Music and background sounds
Something that really sets the mood for work for me is the right music. Now, again, it is up to you if you prefer to work in quiet space, but, sometimes, I don’t mind to put some background sounds which don’t disturb my focus. In fact, there are different styles of music that work best for different tasks, for instance:
- Familiar music won’t bug your mind focusing on lyrics.
- Classical music can help with productivity.
- Electronic music with repetitive beats is great to improve focus.
- Alpha Waves Music can help you tune in and focus in your work easier.
- Movie and Game soundtracks can create atmosphere without being distractive.
- Background noise (from coffee shops, co-working spaces, nature,etc.) could be good for setting yourself into working mode. Background Noise Machine
- If noise is distracting you and you need to work in quiet, a set of noise cancelling headphones may solve the problem with the background noise.
A clean workspace is an enjoyable space to work at. But once you clean off your desk and find space for your things, don’t forget to wipe it all with a non-abrasive cleaner, like an antibacterial wipe. And do that at least once a week, especially the keyboard, the mouse and the monitor, which can quickly become a breeding ground for an incredible variety of flora and fauna.
“Organizing is what you do before you do something”, according to author A. A. Milne.
Those are the basic things that have improved my workspace. Having everything at one arm’s reach, finding all the things that I need, defining space for my work-related stuff, and being comfortable in my surroundings are those little things that can make a significant change in one’s productivity and focus. And even though things may get a little cluttered from time to time, having a system to keep things organized can make it fairly easy to maintain.
Learn more: How to organize your living space?
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