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5 steps to a clutter-free desk



January 9 is Clean Off Your Desk Day so let's talk about desk debris for a minute. If your desk is not an inviting place where you can be productive, generate million-dollar ideas, or organize the baddest bake sale on the block, then this article is for you.


  1. Survey the area. Now look again. Take a deep breath, accept the situation and dive in.

  2. Rough sort into the Big 3 – Keep, Toss and Elsewhere. Keep is obviously for the important papers and items you need. Toss can be subdivided into Recycle, Shred and Trash. Elsewhere is for items that should not be on your desk at all – items that belong to others or stored in another location.

  3. Clean the desk surface, your phone and computer monitor/keyboard with sanitary wipes and compressed air. Read more about how contaminated computer equipment led to a norovirus outbreak.

  4. Place items you need regularly (pens, paper clips, notepad etc.) within reach on the desk or in a shallow drawer. Use drawer organizers and containers as needed.

  5. File reference papers, and pass along papers that should live permanently with others. Paperwork that remains should be what you are currently working on or items needing action. Consider using a desktop file box or tiered inbox to manage items going forward.


Now that you've conquered the desk surface, move on to drawers, cabinets, memo boards and any piles hiding under the desk. Enjoy your fresh, new desk and maintain it with a quick review at least once a week.