Keeping your desktop tidy will let visitors know that you care about your working style and their project. If people have to wait for you to hunt around for the items you and they are collaborating on, they may wonder if your work is as messy as your desktop. To keep things tidy, a daily decluttering session and a spot to put things away at night is a good plan.
Where to put your desk?
Whether you have an office or a cubicle, the location of your desktop will likely be determined by the furniture style. However, you may have some flexibility as to the layout of your computer and other tools. If you're someone who's easily interrupted, it may be a good idea to set your computer so your back is to the door.
For security's sake, you may want to invest in privacy screens for your monitors. This means you won't be distracted by passing traffic, and they won't be distracted by whatever you're working on.
How can I declutter my desktop without a drawer?
If your workstation doesn't include a drawer, consider adding a closed desktop organizer to keep your tools in order. A pretty box from a craft store can serve as a catch-all for stamp pads, your stapler and tape, and other hand-tools of the workspace. If possible, find a stackable set of drawers and trays to keep papers organized and keep the box on top.
Many of us get notes and little gifts from friends that make us smile. However, not every message on these items is appropriate for the workplace. If you have a shelf and want to post a small picture of a loved one, do so. If you've got a funny sign that includes "colorful" language, keep that on your desktop at home.
What should I keep at my desk?
On your desk, you'll need
- a spot for work, such as a paper easel to make your work easy to see
- a heavy-bottomed cup for pens and pencils
- paper management tools, like tape, a stapler, rubber bands, binder clips, and a paper clip container
- your computer and monitor(s)
- a notepad, for jotting down ideas and instructions
If you have research books that you need to access to do your job, keep these on a shelf within easy reach of your chair.
If you've received hand-written notes from your boss, make sure to keep these in a private place. Your boss may need to share things with you that are private and may impact others, so take care to file these away in your private storage container.
How do I keep my desktop clean and organized?
As possible, don't work on more than one project at a time. Try to wrap up things by the end of the day. If you do need to come back to a project in the morning, bundle any reading materials, your handwritten notes and a post-it to mark your starting point for the next day. Wrap this bundle in a rubber band and put it on your shelf.
Make it a habit to declutter your desktop each day. Keep a container of cleaning wipes under your desktop so you can wipe it down before you go home. Keep your electronic work organized as well. Make yourself a note on your calendar of where you stopped on your projects so you can dig back into it quickly.
If you have to eat while working because of a shortage of break space or lack of time to get away, turn from the computer and focus on your food for a couple of minutes. Eat your snack or meal, tidy yourself and your workspace, put everything away, and go back to work. Don't leave half-eaten food at your workspace.
Some people are comfortable with chaos. However, if you're working with or for people who aren't, they may be biased against your work product before they get it. Do your best to leave your desktop blank, or at least tidy, when you're away from your workspace.