A cluttered workspace may feel like “organized chaos” to some, but more likely it’s just an unnecessary stressor. Whether you work from home or at the office, a clean and organized workspace is important both for your productivity and for your mental health. Take the time to clear out the clutter with our best office declutter ideas and hacks.
Even if organized chaos is your thing, you want to make sure things are actually organized and not just piling up. They say a cluttered desk means a cluttered mind, and this proves true in how a messy workspace can affect your mental health. According to the Beverly Hills Therapy Group, a clean workspace can improve concentration, productivity, positivity, reduce stress, and enhance your mood. A messy desk does the opposite, increasing stress, reducing productivity, and encouraging negative emotions.
To get the full benefits of a tidy workstation, don’t just think about cutting down clutter. You want to organize everything in a way that is both intuitive and aesthetically pleasing. A sterile and plain workspace can often be just as stressful and unhealthy as a cluttered space, so don’t toss out all of your favorite decorations! Personalize your space with family pictures, desk buddies, desk plants, and desk toys. As long as you don’t crowd your desk space, these personal touches are a great way to improve your mental health at work.
For more desk personalization tips, check out our infographic for making a desk sanctuary!
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Someone else’s treasure, not yours. The first thing you need to do is figure out what is trash and what’s not. While you can quickly eliminate the obvious wrappers and soda cans, you also need to go through your papers, sticky notes, mail, etc. and toss out anything that isn’t relevant anymore. Rewrite essential notes into a notebook, put passwords into a secure password manager, and wipe down dirty screens and surfaces. These decluttering ideas and steps are about more than just cutting out the trash; this is your chance to start fresh.
Now take a look at the things you don’t want to throw away. Pens, scissors, and other office supplies should be reorganized so that you only have the essentials on your desk with no duplicates. Everything else can be stored in a box of office supplies or organized into drawers. Only keep the supplies that you really need available, like a pen, pair of scissors, and notepad. Anything that can be put away in a drawer at this point, should be.
Finally, choose your personal items. If you have a lot of pictures, try to narrow it down to one or two favorites then put the rest in a drawer. If you have a lot of desk toys but not enough room to keep them all, pick your favorites then tuck the others in a drawer or storage box to rotate throughout the year. This way, you can keep all the things you love and have a greater capacity to enjoy it.
When organizing your space, think about what surfaces you have to work with. Do you have shelves? A wall for a tack board? Corner space? Space under the desk for a storage box or trash can? Take note of all your available space and how much of it you want exposed vs how much you want decorated. Generally, you want at least somewhere around two-thirds of the space to be empty. This allows you to more easily see your decorations and enjoy them.
If you have shelves or can get them, these are great for plants, books, and simple toys or decorations. Make sure not to crowd the shelves, as clutter in your peripheral vision can be stressful just like clutter in front of you. If you want to have a lot of fun (and have plenty of space to spare) you can decorate with candles, twinkle lights, and even drape colorful fabric to bring a more whimsical feel to your space.
For more ideas, check out these tips for creating a work from home workspace!
Don’t just focus on how your desk looks; make sure you’re paying attention to how it functions as well. You want to be able to reach everything you need to while staying in the optimal ergonomic position. That means you want your screen up at eye level, your keyboard down by your lap, and your feet flat on the floor. For most people, this will mean making additions to your workspace beyond just the basic chair and desk setup. You can get a footrest, put your monitor on a stand, and use a slide-out flat drawer for your keyboard.
You can make this work even if you have a laptop and no additional monitor. When you plan to be working in one space for a long period of time, put your laptop up on a stand so the screen is at eye level. Then, plug an external keyboard into your laptop to use lower down, as well as a Bluetooth mouse. You can also use the laptop on your lap and plug in an external monitor, whichever is most affordable and effective for your setup.
When cutting clutter, don’t forget there are some things you should definitely have on your desk. Beyond the obvious monitor, mouse, and keyboard, you also want some key items to organize and beautify your space. Some essentials include a desk caddy for your essential office supplies, usb organizer, a quality decorative mouse pad, a notepad or stickypad, and some really nice pens. These are both helpful for your work and help create a professional aesthetic that help your concentration. Don’t forget to save a space for your work-branded coffee mug or water bottle!
Don’t forget to have fun with your decorations, too! Plants, bobble-heads, tiny teddy bears from your SO, pictures of your kids, anything that, as Marie Kondo says, “sparks joy” needs a place on your desk. Even if you have just one decoration, make it something that can get a smile out of you when you’re feeling stressed or burnt out. These are the touches that will give you the greatest mental health benefits from your neat and tidy workspace.
When putting together your desk, don’t forget touches that will prevent future clutter! Have a place for incoming and outgoing mail, whether it’s a paper organizer or a folder taped to the side of your desk. Keep a trash can close at hand and empty it regularly. Put your things away at the end of the workday so you can start fresh again tomorrow. Little clutter management tips like that will keep the clutter away and make your life so much easier.
Where you work is an important place to keep clean, because odds are you’re going to be spending eight plus hours there a day. When you spend that much time in a single place, you want it to be a healthy, enjoyable environment. That means cutting out the trash, keeping it neat, and adding personal touches that make that space feel fully yours. Use these office declutter ideas to clean up your home or work office space for the perfect work environment you’re happy to come to every day.
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