In this post, discover “do this, not that” ideas for maintaining the most important area of your home office, your desk. Make the most of your business building time by following these desk organization tips and establishing these desk organization habits!
Do This, Not That: Desk Organization Habits
Your desk is one of the most important areas of your home office! By creating daily desk organization habits, you can avoid workspace chaos. You’ll also enjoy a productive space for focused work.
The DIY hacks and organizing ideas in today’s post will help you improve your desk organization, establish dedicated storage spaces, and organize your supplies.
But before we jump into the “do this, not that” specifics, let’s talk about why establishing the right habits is so important!
Why Supportive Habits are So Important
Here are 3 BIG things you gain by establishing supportive office organization habits:
- More time – habits help you to be more efficient which equals more time for rocking your business building time.
- Less internal resistance – habits make it easier to do what must be done; they decrease the internal struggle that creates added stress and frustration and leads to wasted time and energy (see the bullet point above).
- Decrease decision fatigue – when you’re tired your ability to make good decisions falters, and you often choose the easiest option (ie, leaving a mess on your desk at the end of the day instead of cleaning up after yourself); having established habits cuts out a large portion of your daily decision making and automates activity; that means you suffer from less decision fatigue and make better choices (and get AND stay organized so you can make the most of your limited business building time)!
Knowing a few of the benefits of creating supportive habits will hopefully help you to commit to investing the time and energy required to establish new, supportive habits.
Now that you understand more about the positive benefits of supportive organization habits, let’s jump in to the “do this, not that” tips and habits so you can keep your desk organized!
Do This, Not That: Desk Organization Habits
Follow these “do this, not that” tips to improve your organization and KEEP your desk organized, so it will function as a focused space for your work!
#1 NOT THAT: Use Your Desk Top for Storage
Your desk is NOT a storage area. It needs to be an area for focused, productive work!
When you use your desktop for storage, you end up wasting your valuable business building time on shuffling piles and moving stuff. Plus, piling is not an effective way to store items.
*Do This Instead: Keep Only Frequently Used Items on Desk Top
We all have preferences for what we like to keep on our desks. But it’s important that MOST of what’s on your desktop are items you use frequently, like multiple times each day! This might include your inbox, writing utensils, your computer, and water bottle.
I prefer to have only the necessities out on my desk: writing utensils that I use many times a day, project supplies that are currently in use, and my office inbox. I tuck every other thing in a drawer, out of sight.
What items are taking up valuable desktop space that you rarely, if ever, use? Relocate those items and open up some desk space for more frequently used items, reference items, or just enjoy a little open space that’s free of clutter!
Check out more desk clutter busting tips: Simple and Practical Decluttering Hacks for Your Desk.
#2 NOT THAT: Stack Papers on Your Desk
This one is related to the tip above. But since paper clutter is often a huge challenge in offices, I wanted to give it its own tip!
Stacking papers on your desk not only takes up valuable workspace, it’s not an effective way to organize, store, and manage the information included on those papers.
How many hours have you wasted shuffling through papers piles on your desk? Did you find what you were looking for?
I’ve lost count of the number of hours and rarely find the searched-for item….
*Do This Instead: Use an Office Inbox & Establish an Inbox Management Routine
Your office inbox functions like a catch-all filter for any paper item entering your office. Imagine it like a net surrounding your workspace or covering your office entrance. It keeps paper piles off your desk. It also controls the flow of information into your office, so you stop missing things (business, family, and household).
No more searching for the business card of that potential client you met last week. And say buh-bye to tearing apart your office to find that bill that’s due TODAY!
BUT you can’t just add an inbox to your desk, fill it with the stacks of paper that used to take up your desk space, and call it good.
You MUST establish an inbox management routine. But it’s not as hard as it sounds!
Block out a time in your schedule when you’ll complete your inbox routine. Every day is best, especially in the beginning.
At the established time each day, empty your inbox by processing the items in it. You process the items by completing the tasks the item requires. Or, if the tasks are time-intensive, you can move the item to the next step in your paper processing system (ie, to the applicable action file).
Learn more about establishing a system for processing the paper in your office: How to Develop a Paper Processing Routine.
#3 NOT THAT: Store In-Progress Projects and Reference Materials on Your Desk
Projects require supplies, but piling those supplies on your desk isn’t an effective way to organize or store them.
Your desk is the central command station of your office. It’s also where much of your productive work needs to happen. But your desk space isn’t conducive to focused work when there’s stuff stacked everywhere…if you can even find a place to work!
*Do This Instead: Establish Storage for In-Progress Projects
Instead of storing the supplies required for your in-progress projects on your desk, establish a storage system for them. It should be easily accessible from your desk, include characteristics that keep your projects organized, and hold multiple projects.
I’ve used the following items as storage for my in-progress projects:
- Tickler file
- Hanging folders in my file drawer
- Magazine sorters
- Document boxes
- Clear plastic bins
Find an option that works for your preferences, the space you have available, and the types of projects you primarily work on (paper is the supply most often required for my in-progress projects).
*Do This Instead: Keep Desk Space Open for Reference Materials
Another way to improve your desk organization is to reserve desk space for reference materials, then keep that space clear of all clutter. That way, when you need to pull out a binder, file, or book, you can place it on the reference space of your desk and refer to as needed while you work.
Throughout my work day, I’m constantly pulling items out of files, referencing books or binders, or referring to notes. But I often found myself piling those items on top of already teetering piles on my desk. Having a designated, clutter-free spot for them has made a huge difference in my productivity and organization!
Designate a “special/reference materials” corner of your desk and keep it clutter-free to make your workday more productive and your workspace more efficient!
#4 NOT THAT: Store Desk Items Randomly
We often toss items in this drawer or that one without any thought to whether this storage system (or lack thereof) contributes to desk chaos or a calm, productive workspace.
Did you know that how you set up your desk, including how and where you store items, can make a huge difference in your organization and productivity?
*Do This Instead: Something with Desk Sector Org System
We need to be purposeful in how we set up our desks and use our drawer storage space. You can do that by creating “desk sectors” based on how frequently you use items.
I’ve created 4 sectors for my desk and the surrounding area:
*The Red Sector includes the top of my desk.
Sounds a little scary, doesn’t it? 😉
Although not usually a scary place (except maybe when I’m paying bills :\), the red sector is a carefully guarded area where only the most frequently used office items are provided a home.
*The next area, the yellow sector, is for items that are used frequently but not quite as often as red sector items.
*Next is my orange sector, and it holds items I use less frequently, maybe once every couple of days.
*Finally, the green sector is for items that are used even less frequently, maybe once a week or less.
By storing your office items based on how frequently they’re used, you can make the most of your valuable desk storage space.
Learn more about my desk sector system and how to create your own sectors: How to Set Up Your Desk for Success.
#5 NOT THAT: Store ALL of Your Office Supplies in Your Desk
I’m a self-confessed office supply lover, but this tip applies even if you’re less
obsessed, ahem, fond of office supplies! 😉
We’ve already talked about how important our desk space is, and how it needs to be reserved for frequently used supplies, reference materials, and focused and productive work.
One of the things that can quickly get out of hand at a desk is office supplies. It’s too easy to use valuable storage space for all of the extra supplies we keep around. And all those extra supplies can make it difficult to keep our desks organized.
*Do This Instead: Store Extra Supplies “Off-Site”
One of the easiest ways to improve your desk organization is to store extra supplies in another location. This also opens up valuable storage space!
Whether it’s a bin in a closet, a storage box on a shelf, or the least accessible drawer in your desk, moving your extra supplies out of your desk completely or to a less convenient desk location can free up valuable space and improve the organization of your desk.
If you’re ready to clear some desk space by relocating extra supplies, check out this post: 15 Easy Ways to Store Extra Office Supplies.
Do This, Not That: Desk Organization Habits
Your desk is one of the most important areas of your home office! By creating good desk organization habits, you’ll avoid workspace chaos and enjoy a productive space for focused work.
These do this, not that tips and habits in today’s post will help you improve your desk organization, establish dedicated storage spaces, and organize your supplies.
If you enjoyed today’s post, you might find these related posts helpful:
- Do This, Not That: Ways to Keep Your Office Organized
- How to Set Up Your Desk for Success
- 25+ Favorite Desk Organizing Supplies
What desk organization habits have you established? Share in the comments below!
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Thanks for joining me today! Here’s to establishing helpful desk organization habits!
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