A messy desk is distracting, confusing, and often ugly. Chaos in the workplace turns even the simplest of tasks into an almighty chore; this is the case whether you are in a professional office or working from home.
How can you be economic with your time and at your most proficient if you can’t find any of the paperwork that you need to complete a job? Similarly, if your desk space is cluttered with bits and bobs that you don’t actually need it can really hinder your thought processes, not to mention disturb your overall efficiency.
Many women are notoriously skilled at multi-tasking and it is widely considered as a very useful asset to be able to utilise – when necessary. However, if you find that your work environment reminds you more of a battlefield, rather than an organised hub that enables you to work to the best of you ability, it may be beneficial to rethink your desk space. A re-think with regards to space, storage and aesthetics will subsequently improve your performance at work as well as your mood. Here’s how to organise your desk so that it starts to work for you…
Firstly, if your desk of concern is at home, ensure that it is set up in a separate space (or ideally in a different room) to your relaxation areas; you wouldn’t work on your laptop in bed would you? If you would, you shouldn’t. When you clock off you need to be able to unwind (mentally and physically) and distance yourself from work in a space that you associate with family, friends and positive emotions.
Whilst work can be lots of fun, it can also be stressful at times. Therefore, setting realistic and consistent boundaries between your work life and your personal life will allow you to reach your optimum potential at work. It will also give you the opportunity to decompress and rejuvenate during your own time, so that you can be on top form when you’re back in the office.
It’s also important to start with a blank canvas, so bin anything that you no longer need, recycle your papers and shred any confidential documents. Similarly, keeping your desk neat and clean is vitally important to remaining organised and happy at work.
This goes for whether you are a freelancer, a student, working from home a couple of days a week, or even simply completing a few personal administrative jobs at the weekend.
If you want to organise a desk in a professional office, you may be in an open plan format with limited space, therefore you will need to work with what you are provided and bring in any additional items that you feel you may require.
What you need in terms of resources will obviously depend on your role, however the likelihood is that – along with a Windows PC, Mac or laptop – you will require some storage solutions to stay on top of mountains of paperwork. Look for magazine files, stackable desk trays, folder dividers, lever-arch folders and plastic wallets to organise all papers into categories.
If you work from home frequently, you may also wish to divide personal documents and work papers into separate files as well as cabinets, so that you are never distracted from your work by a drifting bank statement or insurance policy.
If you have a filing cabinet with a lock and key, use it to store sensitive information securely, and make the most of the space by using filing dividers to keep the bulk of your work out of sight. Divide paperwork into relevant topics and create individual files or folders for each.
You may wish to create an alphabetically-ordered folder for miscellaneous papers. Use coloured highlighters, post-its and tabs to mark everything clearly. It is also advisable to select one document tray or magazine file for documents that require your attention immediately and ensure you allow time to complete these tasks – however unpleasant they may seem.
Put desk drawers to good use with small stationary separators, including little pots for paper clips, staples and pin-board pins. Keep personal items in a separate drawer and remember to keep it organised and clean. Place a small pencil pot on your desk with a few pens and highlighters for everyday use and store the rest in your stationary drawer.
Many people find it useful to have a stack of post it notes handy for writing quick messages and reminders. A notebook is a must for making everyday lists or taking notes during meetings as well as a day to day planner, so you never miss a meeting.
Your desk may be for work, but it doesn’t mean it has to be dull and the same is true for your general surroundings – which can all too easily become overrun with clutter. We are strongly influenced by our environment, so to nurture an atmosphere of positivity and creativity it’s a great idea to personalise your space a little. Consider bringing in a mini mascot, a plant or a couple of photos of loved ones to stick up.
Additionally if your role is creative, perhaps create an inspiration board to reflect your style and keep it maintained from season-to-season to ensure its fresh and relevant at all times. This idea is perfect for working from home too, as you may have a whole wall to play with; if that’s the case, get yourself a large pin-board in a colour or design you love and enlist a friend to help you fix it to the wall… then pin away.
A colourful pin-board peppered with inspiring and beautiful images is the authentic form of Pinterest, except it’s so much better because it’s completely tangible and in full view at all times. It is especially useful to stick notes, ideas, theories or statistics to a pin-board if you are a student or studying for exams. In this case, don’t let it get too cluttered and utilise lots of colourful pens and post it notes as learning aids; try assigning certain colours to various themes, which can assist with memorising key details.
Finally natural light can also be really beneficial for your productivity, as it can help to keep you alert. If you have a room with a view at home, why not set up your desk so the great outdoors are visible to you; the feeling of connection with the outside world can also help to boost your mood – weather permitting of course! As much as we wish we could make it sunny, we none of us can control the elements, so get your kicks where you can and show your desk who’s boss, once and for all!