Dealing with Your Desk: Harnessing Your Habits

Organizing your desk is a deeply personal activity. How you interact with your work office reflects how you interact with the world around you, so understanding those interactions can help you make meaningful changes to increase productivity.

Are you someone who prefers to engage with the electronic world to communicate, schedule and store?  Or, do you need the printed version for information to feel real? Your work office should be organized based on whichever describes you.

If you are electronically-focused, organize your desk in a way that puts the computer front and center – and reconsider whether you need those traditional office supplies. For example, I embraced the electronic world for almost everything years ago, but still kept a tape dispenser on my desk… which I dutifully dusted once a week. Why? Old habits die hard! Recently, I put that tape dispenser in the drawer, and replaced it with a personal photo – a much better use of space!

If you are paper-based, think about ideas for desk organization with that in mind. Do you have a stapler, binder clips, and other paper management tools close at hand? Do you have a strategy for separating and managing paper as it flows from pending, to active, to archive, to disposal? Do you have the right storage areas and tools to help you process that workflow?

These same questions extend to your “mobile” desk – what you carry from meeting to meeting. Do you take notes on a mobile device or laptop, or do you use a paper planner or notebook? When you get back to your desk, do you have a way to reintegrate that new data into your work office, or does it just get added to another pile?

Organizing your desk will differ depending on whether your preferred focal point is your physical desk top, or your electronic desktop. This year, think about your habits in those two different worlds, and let those preferences drive your organizational approach.