My desk is the first thing you see when you walk in my apartment door. It’s long, narrow, and a crisp white color so everything is reflected off of its surface.
It tends to get cluttered easily. Since I’m in charge of paying bills, running three blogs, and taking care of things like thank you notes, it’s easy for my desk to turn into a war zone instead of a place for simplicity and productivity.
Over time, I’ve learned a few tricks to keeping the surface clean (so I actually sit down at it and use it!) as well as keeping important papers organized. Here they are below, and I hope they help you too!
1. Start a Love Affair With File Folders
There are some things I don’t want to put in the drawers of the desk. Once they go there, it’s out of sight out of mind and there’s no telling when I’ll get to them. Still, I don’t really want the desk to be piled high with bills or other important paperwork because that doesn’t look nearly as nice. So, I’ve started using file folders. Luckily, file folders have come quite a long way. They can be fun and brightly colored so they actually jazz up your desk instead of making it look like a boring corporate office. I put the most pertinent items in these folders, things I have to get to right away, and they stay on the top of my desk – still out of sight but not out of mind.
2. Use Inexpensive Organizers
Natalie mentioned earlier this week how she reuses and recycles things around her house. I think we both must have gotten accustomed to this when we lived in Grenada, because I do the exact same thing. You can cut off the bottoms of cereal boxes to create a really nice drawer dividers. I use mason jars and things I picked up at thrift stores to corral my pens and headphones. Basically, while I’d love to drop a few hundred dollars at the Container Store for pretty organization, it’s just not practical in my life right now.
3. Make Reference Material Accessible
When I work, I often have to look up a few things. I do most of this online, but sometimes, I’m looking for a great quote that I want to use from one of my books. So, on my desk, I have about 10 personal finance books that I use regularly and recommend to others. I also have three books on my desk that I’m supposed to review in the next few weeks so they are sitting there looking at me, imploring me to get to work on them.
4. Keep it Homey
It wouldn’t be an organized desk that was also homey unless I had pictures of my kiddos. I have a really pretty, large picture from their professional photo session on my desk, and it reminds me to keep going even when I really don’t want to.
Ultimately having an organized desk takes a little time, but as long as you put everything back where it goes, it should definitely be a place where you enjoy working.
Where do you spend most of your time working? I split my time between my desk and my nook at our local Starbucks…
Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom says
Right now I work on the blog on the couch or at the library.
For my first job, I was required to clear off my desk every night. It was a habit that stuck with me.
Right now we don’t have a work area setup and papers are starting to pile up. We’ll get to it. Later, hehe. Thanks for the inspiration though.
That’s a great habit to get into!! 🙂 And you’re welcome!
Shannon @ Financially Blonde says
I love my desk, my hubby built it, and I have everything I need to keep it organized; however, sometimes life gets hectic and so does my desk. Once I sort it out, though, I feel like a new person and it’s almost as though my creative energies are unleashed in the process of organizing the desk.
I totally agree. It feels great to get everything all squeaky clean!
I just cleaned out and reorganized our home office so I could use it. I’m much more productive in that space, especially now that’s it’s cleaned out! I love upcycling items for storage/organization!
Oh man another team member for our upcycling club. 🙂
I too love my desk (Craigslist find) and I usually put everything back in it’s place before I close up shop every night. I like waking up to a desk that isn’t helter skelter.
Horray for Craigslist and I really need to put things back in their places better!
I just bought a vintage, refurbished desk that I LOVE!!! Though I will admit, I’m so used to working on the couch that I haven’t used it much yet. Once we buy a house I’m going to have a separate space dedicated to work, and I know I’ll use it then! Thanks for the organizational tips!!
Hustle + Save says
I move between my desk, our dining table and starbucks (a couple of times a month). I’ve been at the dining table for the past couple of weeks because my desk, and the room it’s in, has gotten out of hand. I’m working on getting it back in order so I can move back in there. I agree on file folders! I have 2 folders I use the most “Action Needed” and “File”. Those stay in sight so I can get things off my desk ASAP and the rest of my more specific folders stay in the filing cabinet.
Being self employed I took on a few part time gigs that I thought would boost income. One of those was doing bail bonds. It proved to be counter productive to my business. At one point I was doing bonds in 8 counties and running 2 offices. My boss soon got multiple family members involved and basically run me out which forced me to move my 2 offices into my home upstairs bedroom/storage office. So now combining the decor from 3 offices into 1 I have a combined genre of country, gangster, and modern American closet! Keeping my desk cleared is no small task.
Haha that sounds like quite an office!
Michelle @ Green Earth Bazaar says
Great tips. I don’t work at a traditional desk, but I have two work stations. One in the dining room which I share with my girls whom I homeschool, and another mobile work station that I write at in my bedroom. Needless to say my shared workspace gets a bit messy – my two daughters (a teen and tween) aren’t that concerned with the homey, organized look. And since my bedroom is rather small, I keep a small desk organizer on my dresser next to where I like to write when I want some quiet space, and roll my desk (which is an old rolling cart with a wooden top – an inexpensive thrift store find) into another room for storage when I’m not working. I keep a few reference materials in my bedroom, and the rest on my large book shelf.
I love your ideas on reusing items – I tend to do this a lot around the house. I’m glad I stumbled across your blog while reading Vitamin Sunshine. I’m always looking for great organizational tips. I can’t wait to read more from your blog. 😉
I have really taken to just taking pictures of documents and storing them in Evernote. It keeps my desk clutter free!
Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine says
I have the worst time keeping my desk at home clean! I am up working on my blog early, before I go to work, so I usually am stretching it until the last possible second before I have to get up and go. At work, I always make a point of tidying things up throughout the day and keeping everything organized– so I always have things ready for the people I work with. But at home, boy that’s a different story! I need to work on using file folders and putting away those things I am not using this week- because I tend to keep the reference materials I might need THIS YEAR out! 🙂