Nothing feels better than an organized work space. It's why organizing an office for maximum productivity is so often one of those ever-present things on our "to do... one day" list. We basically all want a super organized desk, but the majority of us just never seem to actually have one.
And a clean and organized work station doesn't just look nice. In an article for CNN, professional organizer Lisa Zaslow said, "Surveys show the average person loses an hour a day to disorganization," and that, "It takes much less time to get and stayed organized. Think about how frantic and stressed you are when you can't find something." She also noted that an uncluttered desk actually makes our thinking and focus more efficient, as "Our eyes pull every single thing in front of us and our brain processes it — even if we don't realize it. That is a lot of work and editing for you," Zaslow said.
I worked at the same desk for almost four years, and I can personally vouch for the fact that my stress levels were usually directly proportional to how messy my desk looked. And sure, sometimes that's just because it literally meant I had more work to do, but looking at a cluttered mess of a desk also wasn't doing my zenness any favors. If you can relate, or are just looking for a few tips to make you even more organized than you already are, here are eight super helpful organizational hacks for your desk.
1. Get A Desktop Filer
In an article for Entrepreneur, professional organizer Linda Samuels recommended a desktop file as a super simple way to keep yourself organized. A file sorter "is great for keeping at your fingertips the project/action files you reach for frequently," Samuels said. "It can sit on your desk or on a surface behind your desk, keeping your desktop clutter-free. Best of all, priority files are visible and reachable."
Additionally, Zaslow recommended keeping categories for high, mid, and low levels of urgency and to reassess and rearrange at the end of every day.
Lorell Mesh Vetical Desktop File Sorter, $12.99, Quill.com
2. Have A Place For Odds And Ends
Samuels also recommended keeping an aesthetically-pleasing box for odds and ends, like chargers headphones. "These are great for stowing catalogs and magazines and can sit on the floor, a ledge or on your bookshelf," Samuels said. "They might also work for grouping bulky materials for specific projects like samples or oversized binders. These keep your important items accessible, but contained."
Whitewashed Wood Bins, $12.99, The Container Store
3. Have A Real Inbox
In an article about keeping your desk clean, organized, and productive, Craig Jarrow, author of The Time Management Ninja, said to keep a physical inbox on your desk for mail or documents you need to review. "You need one place for incoming papers to reside. Otherwise, they will scatter all over the existing documents on your desk," Jarrow said. You can also use stacking letter trays to create room for an outbox without using up more horizontal space on your desk.
Poppin White Letter Tray, $9.97, CrateandBarrel.com
4. Minimize Incoming Paper
This is one that takes a little proactivity, but Jarrow recommended it as an invaluable way to stay organized and decluttered. "Eliminate unnecessary subscriptions, reduce the number of paper reports and memos. If you don’t need something in hard copy, then stop it from coming to your desk," Jarrow said. He also recommended taking time every few days to scan what you don't technically need in hard copy and keeping the documents stored on your computer's desktop instead. You'll be shocked how much physical space you save.
5. Keep Supplies In One Drawer
In the same article for CNN, Amy Trager, a professional organizer in Chicago, recommended keeping all of your supplies in a single drawer within arms reach. "Getting up even just once a day for a pencil or paper clip is shutting your brain off a project you are working on and you will have to come back and re-center," Trager said.
3M Desk Drawer Organizer, $32.99, OfficeDepot.com
6. Have A Container For Pens
This is just my personal tip after having worked as a producer in advertising for over four years; literally nothing is more annoying than looking for a pen or pencil when you need one. Keep a few pens, a highlighter, and anything else you may use to write with every day in a cup or container right by your monitor. It's way easier than fumbling for a pen that rolled under a stack of paper while trying to pay attention to a conference call.
Put Your Fist Down Pen Holder, $17, dotandbo.com
7. Reassess Every Day
This is another tip that comes straight from me and several years of high-intensity multi-tasking. Take a few minutes at the end of every day to reassess everything on your desk and get it ready for the next morning. Take down any extra sticky notes that are no longer necessary, rearrange the urgent task list, and create a "to do first thing" pile to help reorient your brain as fast as possible when you come in the next morning. That way you'll hit the ground running instead of wasting time trying to remember where you left off.
Let's be real — our desks will probably never look like the perfectly manicured work stations we see in those Office Depot catalogues. It's just not realistic for people who actually use their space every day. However, there are definitely super solid tips for keeping yourself organized and saving you massive time in the long-run. You can do it!