Organise Your Desk & Love Your Workspace

A cluttered workspace isn’t ideal for productive work. Cluttered workspaces happen to the best of us, as our cleaning habits are limited, but constant use of our desk leads to all sorts of clutter that needs to be banished. 

You want your workspace to be clean. Having clutter in your workspace clutters your mind, too—and that means you won’t work as effectively as otherwise. So for the love of your efficiency, get ready for a deep clean and organisation of your desk. It’s going to be a wild ride. 

organize your desk

Prepare Thyself

You probably already have basic cleaning materials on hand, but doing a great job of organising your workspace requires going the extra mile. You want to give your workspace the organisational tools needed to prevent future deep cleaning like you’re about to undertake.

That means you’re going to need to tame those computer wires, piles of stuff, and candy wrappers on a permanent basis. We’ve got just the bag of tricks to make sure that you can make it the case. 

Here is a list of items you should purchase before we begin:

  • Cable ties
  • Canned air
  • Dust mask
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Goggles
  • Cleaning products 
  • Wax 
  • Isopropyl alcohol (ie: Rubbing alcohol)
  • Rags
  • Paper towels
  • Rubber gloves
  • Sponges 
  • Organizational containers 
  • New decorative items

You don’t need to go all out when you decide to organise your desk. But if you don’t expect to be on a regular cleaning regimen to avoid the build-up of clutter and dust.

You should set aside at least an hour to fully clean your desk—perhaps more if you’ve been negligent.  

Clear It All Out

Remove every single item that is in, on, or around your workspace. Pull your workspace away from whatever walls it’s resting against. Unplug every electronic device. Move their wires fully away from your workspace, along with the devices themselves. You’re going to clean those, too.

Pull your chair away from your desk. Stand up, and get ready to start organising. 

Dust Busting

Break out that canister of canned air and get ready to use it. You should probably don your protective mask at this point, and have a vacuum cleaner nearby. The purpose of the canned air is to dislodge dust that has made its home in and around your workspace. 

It’s normal for the can of canned air to get extremely cold while you’re using it. Just remember not to shake the can any more than is necessary. Now let’s start with your electronics. 

Cleaning Your Devices

Your computer and other pieces of technology are major parts of your workspace, and they need to be cleaned and organised too. The biggest piece of disorganisation that electronics produce comes from their wires and access to their interfaces.

If you haven’t done so already, unplug every device you have. Untangle any nests of wiring that may have accumulated over the years. Do your very best to unknot every last wire, and figure out if you have any extraneous wires kicking around. Blast the wires with the canned air to get any major dust bunnies out of the way.

Next, break out the cable ties. You’re about to impose some order on the wires. Bundle all of the wires that go to the same device together, and cable tie them together at two points: one point close to where they will plug into the device, and another point close to where they will plug into the wall or power strip. 

If you’re feeling fancy, you can colour code your cable ties for the wires that go to other devices. As you are cable-tying everything up, remove any obvious pieces of dust and give the wires themselves a good blast or two with the canned air. 

Vacuum off the surface the dust lands on, and you’re good to go. Don’t plug anything back in just yet; you’ve got a long way to go.

Your devices themselves are often repositories for dust. Blast some canned air into any open holes and vacuum up whatever pops out. You may notice that your devices improve in their function afterward. 

It takes more than computers to make an organised workspace, though. You’re going to need to clean your floors and rugs of all the dust that you just kicked up. Vacuuming time.

Rugging It

workspace rug

If there are any rugs underneath your workspace, it’s time to take those out. You could send more expensive rugs to the cleaners. But for most underfoot rugs, a stern beating and a quick freshening up will do.

Bring your rug to an outside area and smack it a bunch of times. Notice all the dust flying about? That means that it’s been too long since you smacked this particular rug. You should also run a vacuum cleaner over your rug, nice and slowly. Cleaning deeply will make sure that when you return your rug to its workplace, it doesn’t contribute any dust.

We’re halfway through with the desk organisation process, and we haven’t even started talking about your desk itself, but rest assured, the time has come. 

You’re In It to Bin It

Remember how earlier you cleared everything off of your workspace, and set it aside for later? 

A cluttered desk is a mess of a desk. Grab a bin and start putting stuff in. Just make sure you don’t chuck anything important. Put important stuff off to the side where you can replace it after the deep clean.

That’s right; you’re going to remove the entire contents of your desk. And you’re going to love it. A clean slate will let you organise the desk in the best possible way for you.

Bin all of those old wrappers, empty pens, crumpled sticky notes, and anything else. You may need to empty your bins and return a few times. 

The end goal of your reorganisation is to have a lot of bare surfaces to repopulate with a new organisation scheme, so if something is borderline for the bin, throw it away. You can always replace it if you need it later. 

The final group of items that survived the binning process should be the bare minimum number of items you need to perform your work effectively. 

Start thinking about where you’re going to want to place these items, and prepare to wash your workspace.

Wax On, Wax Off

wax desk

Remember those cleaning supplies we instructed you to buy earlier? It’s time to put your back into it. Whip out the rag and cleaning oil, and clean every surface of your desk. Even the surfaces you don’t normally see, like the trims and undersides. The same goes for your chair.

You should probably drag your desk away from where it normally sits when you make it clean. Organising your workspace includes cleaning the area behind and beneath your workspace. There’s no reason to let dust bunnies accumulate to breed like rabbits and harass your workspace later on.

Do your best to scrub out coffee stains. If you’re feeling really into the renovation effort, once everything dries you can apply a new coat of wax to your desk to give it a nice shine. 

Likewise, if your workspace has a few scars from overuse, you can fix them with some sandpaper, caulk, and paint—but that might be a bit overboard.

Imagine that You’re You

We’re almost ready to put your desk back together in an organised fashion, but first, we need to do a little exercise. 

What’s your biggest pet peeve about your desk in the way it was before? Were your drawers too full? The bin a bit too far? The pen holder missing its pen? Was it hard to find important papers? Was your screen at an odd angle, or did you have not-quite-enough room to move your mouse?

A deep clean is your chance to right all those wrongs. Purchase trays and folders that will hold physical documents. Colour code them and label them. Once you go back to using your workspace, stick to the organisational scheme that you sketch out right now. 

Purchase jars to put pens in. Get a wire bucket for paperclips. Place a spare notebook for your to-do list. Place the bin exactly where you want. The key to staying organised is being consistent about where you put these organisational elements and how you use them. As soon as you deviate from the plan, you’re improvising. Improvising is the opposite of organising. 

organise your desk

Buy a new mount for your screens, and find a new place for your other electronics to make sure that those neatly bundled wires you tied up earlier are easily within reach of the plugs. 

Make sure your keyboard is at an ergonomically sound angle for your arms and your chair. Check that your mouse has enough clearance to get around. Elevate your screens so that they’re at your eye level. 

If you have a habit of keeping a beverage with you at your workspace, consider putting down a coaster so that you won’t stain your new workspace. Having a designated spot for your drink should save you a lot of accidental spills.

This next part is super important, so don’t ignore it: add some extra empty spaces to your workspace. These could be empty drawers, cabinets, or hanging netting. These extra empty spaces are a danger, but also an opportunity. 

This time around, leave a blank label on top of each of the empty spaces. Once you’ve been working in your new workspace and discovered a need for extra storage space for a particular item, you have a space ready to go. Just write the label first, and stay consistent with your labelling scheme.

Pack Extra Items, Sparingly

Extras like a box of tissues, a picture of your family, or a tin of mints can make your workspace a bit easier to work in, but probably won’t increase your efficiency directly. 

Make sure that your decorations aren’t within range of where your hands will need to travel in the course of your workday. You don’t want to introduce problems with aesthetic or fun elements.

Tying It All Together

organising your desk

You’re ready to put your desk back together. Push your workspace back against the wall, reconnect all your devices, and put all of your organisational elements into their final resting places. Pull up your chair, and sit down.

Does everything feel right? No? Your first sit down is your chance to fix any major issues your workspace organisation has, but expect everything to feel a bit odd. After all, you’ve just cleaned every nook and cranny, thrown out all the junk, and implemented a bunch of new organisational techniques. 

Getting used to your newly organised and clean workspace may take a few days, and don’t be afraid to make minor changes. Make sure that the stuff you use the most is the easiest to reach, and that your options to accumulate objects in places outside of the newly prescribed areas are slim. 

If you find that you’ve forgotten a major category of something that needs accounting for, don’t let stuff accumulate where it shouldn’t. Be aggressive with your binning and utilising the spare spaces you left to accommodate unforeseen elements. 

It’s a good exercise to reorganise your desk every six months or so, just to make sure that you’re on top of your organisational game. But if you notice after a week or so that you’re more productive than before, let us take a slice of the credit.

Being organised is essential for working at your maximum potential, so be sure to prioritise it and maintain it in the future.