The Psychology of a Well-Organized Desk
“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” – Benjamin Franklin
Let’s talk about the benefits of a well-organized desk. As the founder of Collaborative Partners Administrative Services, this is one of the areas where I help my clients.
We all know that they say the kitchen is the heart of the home. I completely agree. After all, it’s where we create our daily meals, express our creativity, and enjoy conversation as we catch up over our day.
Your desk is the brain of your life and your business.
I’m going to go one further and say that if the kitchen is the heart of the home, your desk is the brain of your life and your business. When you consider everything that you do each day at your desk, it’s truly impressive. You work there, you do research there, you pay bills and review financial paperwork, as well as prepare for tax time. It may also be where you file your important documents and bills. Your desk is also the primary spot for learning, as you take online courses and further your education.
You may also use this space to sit and simply ruminate, embracing your creative side as you entertain new ideas while deepening existing ones. Maybe you read at your desk, too.
When you take a moment to consider how much time you spend at your desk, you can truly appreciate the utility of this space. It’s your command center. Experts say that how well-organized your desk is will set the tone for not only your day, but for your productivity, as well.
Creating your organized desk.
Your ultimate goal for your desk is to create a space that is clean, functional, and well-organized. You want it to be a place that revs you up and excites you about working on your business, as well as taking care of life’s necessities. And also a place that is inviting and supportive for your creativity.
Knowing where everything is stored and that it’s within easy reach avoids wasting precious time and energy searching for what you need. Using less brainpower on the practical (locating an item) leaves more brainpower for the creative (content creation, flushing out of new ideas) and also the daily business-building tasks that your business requires.
In order to understand our individual organizational needs, we first need to create the awareness of what’s NOT working for us. We do this by listening to what our inner knowing is telling about what’s not serving us in our current desk layout and organization. Make a list of everything that you love about your current desk set-up and organizational systems and also what you don’t. Don’t leave anything off, even the smallest detail. Once you know what you love and what you need to change, you can act on that knowledge.
Five tips for organizing your desk.
1. Start with the low-hanging fruit.
What are the easiest things you can take care of? Go through your entire desk, section by section, and scrutinize. Look for things you’ve already handled and can either be filed away, shredded, or safely recycled or thrown out. Think: Post-Its, bills that have been paid, paperwork and forms that have been processed and can be filed.
2. Play to your dominant side.
When organizing your desk, keep your phone on the dominant side of your body (just as you would your mouse). Same rule applies to your planner, notebook/Re-Markable Tablet, beverage, and anything else you regularly reach for throughout the day. This layout creates smooth motions that aren’t jarring to your brain and eliminates having to reach across your body to pick something up.
3. Your desk surface is prime real estate.
Treat the desk surface with reverence. Limit what is there to what NEEDS to be there. Only the things that you use daily deserve this coveted space. This applies to your projects, too: Only relevant and active projects merit space on your desk. For everything else, find an appropriate home for it.
4. Embrace the white space.
Make it a priority to keep a paper-sized free and open space on the dominant side of your desk. This is your designated space for you to do your work. Having this space be open (other than what you’re presently working on) helps keep you on track. Only whatever you are working on in the moment is allowed to be in that space. Following this rule helps prevent a pile of papers from accumulating. And this helps prevent things from getting lost or buried. And this helps keep you clear-headed and efficient because you are no longer searching for something in a state of panic.
5. Be personal but not too personal.
Keep no more than three personal items on your desk so that you avoid distractions. Our eyes pull in everything we see, and that information gets sent right to the brain for processing. This results in wasted time and energy. Your personal items should be meaningful and inspiring so that every time you look at them, you’re filled with positivity.
An organized desk is a process.
Having a well-organized desk goes way beyond your productivity and mental well-being. A dirty desk is a breeding ground for dust, germs, and bacteria (especially if you eat at your desk as you work). Taking the time to keep it clean is a major gift to your overall health and wellness.
It’s key to remember as you go through this process to take it step by step and section by section. It won’t all get done in a day (nor should it, ideally). Also, build in time each week to clean your desk and keep it a pristine and healthy place to be.