7 Ways To Keep Your Desk Uncluttered And Stay Focused

As a [virgo] Virgo, I like to think that I am a shining beacon for positive [virgoan] Virgoan traits, namely being super organized. However in reality, I spend more time writing to-do lists than actually accomplishing tasks. Luckily, there are tons of tips for keeping your desk tidy that I have discovered, as it was high time I decluttered my workspace.

There are many pros to having a tidy desk, ranging from the simple ease of being able to use your computer properly without having to pull crazy arm shapes, to the more important task of being able to swiftly locate important notes and papers. Not only are there organizational advantages to keeping a tidy desk, but The Huffington Post reported findings from Psychological Science (a journal of the Association for Psychological Science) that proved working at a clean desk may promote healthy eating, AMONG OTHER BENEFITS. On the other hand, these same researchers explained that working at a messy desk could inspire creative thinking. Whether a messy workspace is your thing or not, keeping your space tidy is an important thing to explore if you think you're a little more unorganized or overwhelmed than usual.

Here are some ways to keep your desk uncluttered so that you can spend less time rifling through coffee cup-stained papers and more time doing your work.

1. Throw Out Your Garbage Regularly

Are you constantly looking for things on your desk and failing? It may be time to stop lying to yourself and telling your colleagues that your desk is an "organized mess," pretending that you know where everything is, down to the last paper clip. In all honesty, you probably have no idea where anything is anymore because everything is buried underneath Chipotle wrappers, used subway tickets, and receipts. Make it your routine to throw out your garbage regularly, maybe at the end of your shift each day. This routine greatly helped me keep the little pieces of trash from eventually piling up at the end of the week.

2. Do Not Eat At Your Desk

As you are reading this are you spotting crumbs on your desk? If you are a serial lunch-at-your-desk gal, put down your sandwich and step away from your workspace. Eating lunch at your desk stops you from taking a real (and possibly much needed) break from work, according to Kimberly Elsbach, a professor of organizational behavior at the University of California, Davis. It's called a break for a reason. Plus you don't want to be known among your colleagues for causing a bit of a stink with your food when they're trying to get on with their work. So take your lunches outside and get some fresh air. You could even squeeze in a spot of shopping while you're at it.

3. Organize Important Papers

Stop drowning in piles of paper and take action. Invest in files, preferably color coordinated ones so that you can easily reach important papers and documents as and when you need to. Files are the only way I stay organized at all these days. If there's a doubt in your mind that you may no longer need a particular sheet, go back to my first tip. Organize your papers into labelled document wallets like this fashionable set, then throw them all into a magazine holder so that they take up as little space as possible. This could even be stored underneath your desk so as to maximize your desktop area.

Raindrops A4 Document Wallets – Pack Of 10, $8, paperchase-usa.com; Big Spot Kraft Magazine File, $12.50, paperchase-usa.com

4. Ditch The Sticky Notes & Go Digital

In a previous job, I had many items on my to-do list so I thought I'd use sticky notes to remember all of my tasks. However, as the days went on my computer ended up covered in sticky notes and my workspace looked chaotic. Yes, sticky notes are fun and there are some great novelty shapes available nowadays, but use them instead to leave little notes to colleagues who are away from their desks or bin the sticky notes and send them an email. Use Stickies on your computer desktop if you use an Apple computer, Reminders on your iPhone, or conversely download an app such as Any.do to sync all of your tasks across your devices.

5. Stop Collecting Knick-Knacks

Put down your novelty photo frame. You do not need anymore bits and bobs on your desk. Store sentimental objects in a keepsake box at home and if you want to leave a bit of your personality behind, try to limit your knick-knacks to just one or two objects. This will make your desk look way more uncluttered and streamlined and, in my experience, will help you actually focus on work.

6. Keep Only What Is Necessary To Your Work

Do you really need three different kinds of highlighter pens? As a matter of fact do you even need a pen at all? The pen may be dying a slow death. So much is digital nowadays and unless you work in an art studio, you really don't need so much stuff. I am a lover of stationery, but I would much rather invest my money in a select few good quality items rather than splurge it on novelty, poorly-made rubbish.

7. Invest In Attractive Desk Organizing Tools

If your office hasn't gone paperless yet and you can't get away from the fact that you will need something in which to store your stationary, then invest in a small yet lovely set of desk organizers. By having a matching set you'll probably be less likely to interrupt the feng shui of your desk by adding mismatched storage pieces later down the line and everything will have a home.

Elby Desk Collection, $14 - $36, anthropologie.com

Work is stressful enough as it is without having a messy, chaotic desk on top of everything else. So keep your desk (and your mind) a little clearer with these tips and reap the benefits.

Images: DustinLee; DariaNepriakhina; AndrewPons/Unsplash; Giphy (3); Courtesy Brands; Pexels