How to Declutter Your Desk in 10 Minutes

Whether it’s a home office or just your office desk, your desk is your primary real estate in the modern world where office workers or bosses like yourself get most of your important work done. It is after all a productive space where you get to be your most creative.

Like many articles similar to this, you are probably aware by now about how a messy desk often hinders productivity as you take time out to find the things you need. Some of us have gone on to justify our workspaces as reflections of our personality and creativeness to the point of likening ourselves to notable successful people in the world who have achieved great success and fame all while working around the mess that surrounded their desk. Those are the lucky few that are able to block out all the noise and thrive in environments that might not necessarily be deemed to support productivity. On the other hand, the majority of us could use that little extra help to clear that small amount of square footage on the desk that could easily double our productivity.

Whether it is concerns about productivity or simply about the germs on our desk, from crushed up notes to candy papers to possible dried up bugs; having a clean, uncluttered desk can have a massive amount of benefits not only for our physical health but also our mental one as well. In this article, I suggest seven ways to declutter your desk in 10 minutes.

1. Determine what You Use the Desk for Primarily

First of all, determine what type of work you normally do on your desk. Are you someone who deals with a lot of paper work or are you someone who deals with different work samples and products? Your nature of work often dictates how you use the desk, what materials you need and how much space you need. Once you have a good idea about the nature of your work and the amount of space you need, you would begin to have a clearer idea on how to go about decluttering your desk as well as additional storage systems that you may require.

2. Categorise Items on Your Desk

Have a good look at the items on your desk and start taking inventory. Begin with the larger items first. Categorise similar groups of items together. Once you have done that, move on to further compartmentalise them. Take for example, paper items – group them into receipts, meeting notes, personal notes, brochures. Try to digitise information that you have into a folder as much as possible so that there is less clutter around and you are able to find them more easily when you need it with a simple search on your computer.

3. Declutter Items that You No Longer Use

Like many other decluttering techniques before, keep only items that you need and discard or set aside items that you no longer use. The desk is often a small area so be brutal in your decluttering process. Toss items that you have not used in the last six months. File or digitise important documents that need to be kept on record in another special storage area for it.

4. Use Organising Containers to Keep You Organised

Once you have decided on the items that you want to keep, use organising containers to keep your desk organised. Even if you are someone that works mostly on your laptop or desktop and have hardly any need for any stationery, chances are you would probably own at least a pen. Use a penholder to keep all your stationery together. Try investing in clear containers to store the items on your desk so that you have full visibility of the items that you want to retrieve as and when you need it.

5. Clean Up

Decluttering your desk is just about the perfect time for you to clean it up. Sanitise all items that you come in close contact with on a daily basis such as your laptop or mouse and the table. According to a Huffpost article, a keyboard is 20,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat.

For sentimental items like photos with colleagues, you may wish to display them on your desk. For items that you do not wish to keep because they are probably damaged or very dusty but do not intend to throw away for fear of hurting the person that gave it to you, try setting aside some time to speak to them and get their approval before throwing it away. But remember to take a photo of the item before you do as remembrance of the kind gift that was given to you.

6. Get Extra Storage if Needed

Regardless of the nature of your work, you need a workspace that supports your productivity. At any given time, you should only have items that you work with everyday to be on your desk. For items that you use occasionally, try investing in a pedestal to ensure that your own personal stationery items are properly organised and stored.

Try not to store your bags in the pedestals in your drawer as that often takes up a lot of space. Instead, try investing in a separate bag container, that way you are able to free up more space that you could use to store more important documents while also designating a separate home for your bag.

7. Spend 5 Minutes Each Day Putting Every Thing Back in its Place

The key to a well-organised desk and the ability to declutter it within 10 minutes is to have a very disciplined approach towards clutter. Spend at least 5 minutes at the end of each workday to put everything back in its place. This habit is like waking up everyday ensuring that your bed is made up before you leave the house which can improve sleep in the long term. While it is important to have sleep routines and rituals in order to ensure a good night’s rest, it is also important to do the same with our work by ensuring that everything is in its place when you leave. Doing this on a daily basis can help make the process of organization seem a little bit more manageable for the many of us out there.


Not sure what’s hindering your productivity at work? Try clearing out your desk and take note of the changes that happen later, your colleagues and bosses would definitely appreciate that. Having a clean and clear desk is not only beneficial for your productivity but it also instills a sense of civility to your neighbouring colleagues given the rise of shared workplace cultures and open office concept that is part of the work culture today.

Not sure how to go about organising exactly? Why not have a chat about it with me, feel free to reach out to me here and I’ll be happy to help.

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