Most of us spend many hours at our desk or workstation. In fact, we often spend more time working than we do at leisure – but that’s a blog for another day!
You might have the luxury of a home office? You might have a cubicle office at the back of a warehouse? Or maybe you’re just perched on the kitchen table trying to run your business. Everyday you are bombarded with invoices, correspondence and emails and however often you tidy-up within a few days it ends up like a bombsite again!
As a natural organiser, I find this enormously frustrating. In my mind, my desk looks like one of those beautiful flat lays that you see on Instagram – wall to wall white, with touches of gold and blush. Perhaps a stylish stapler, and certainly a vase of freshly picked peonies and a beautiful pen. My desk is white – but that’s where it ends. I like things to be tidy and organised so that I can enjoy my worktime and not spend the whole day searching for things.
Albert Einstein famously said “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” I prefer to have a purposeful desk, or an intentional workspace. So whether you’re naturally tidy or you prefer things more informal – as long as you’re purposeful you’ll be fine. A tidy desk will make a real difference to how to approach the day, how you go about your work and how inspired you feel about your latest project.
Here’s our top tips for keeping a tidy workspace
1 What do you really need?
Work out what you really need every day – the things you use all the time. Keep them really close so you don’t have to stretch for them, or get up and walk across the room. All I have on my desk is a pen pot with ballpoints and Sharpies, a reasonably stylish stapler, a notepad for scribbles, a “Things to Do” pad for daily lists and a letter tray for my to-do work.
2 A place for everything
Everything else needs to have a designated place. You might have drawers under your desk – organise them and perhaps label them so you can find your envelopes really quickly, or you can grab a new file when you need it. Make sure that when you grab the calculator from the 3rd drawer down, that it goes back in the same place. It only takes a second.
Rubbish is rubbish. Don’t rearrange it – throw it! It can either be put in the recycling bin next to your desk or shredded, if it’s confidential, in the shredder next to the recycling bin. We Brits are a nation of hoarders. We keep things “just in case”! When you live in a small cottage, like we do, you quickly learn that hoarding is not an option. There’s something very therapeutic about having a good de-clutter. Send a few bags to the charity shop and feel a lot better for it.
4 Think before you print
When I started a new job in 1996, I was told in my interview that they were working towards the paperless office. I don’t believe there’ll ever be such s thing but I do believe we could massively reduce the amount of paper we produce. We save documents digitally and then access them on our devices, so most of the time, printing is wasteful. I go through my work tray once a week to make sure my priorities are right and I haven’t missed anything that should have been done. This is a good chance to bin anything that you don’t need to keep.
5 Pin It
I’m a big fan of pin boards and currently have 4 in my office. I use them for pinning schedules, lists and reference notes. It gives me easy access to information I need to look at most days.
6 Store it away
If you have office shelves, fill them with magazine files and storage boxes labelled up with the contents. These are reference materials that you will definitely need to refer to – but not every day. I collect Cake magazines and these sit nicely in magazine files in date order (of course).
7 A clean start
There’s nothing worse that coming to your desk in the morning and finding a big hot mess! So get busy at the end of the day and tidy up your workspace. Put everything away – no excuses!
We’d love to hear your ideas for keeping your desk manageable – send us your comments.