Rediscovering Your Desk: Tips for Organization at Work

As you read this article, think about your desk. Many of us sit at it for hours in a day, but when was the last time you really thought about what’s on and in it?


Many tend to think of the desk as primarily a workspace, but often, that’s only one core function. Here are some key roles your desk may serve:

  • Workspace – Where you type, read, or write
  • Meeting Space – A functional table where others come to meet with you
  • Supply Center – A holding place for items you work with: stapler, pens, tape, sticky notes
  • Storage – A surface for files or projects you want to remember
  • Personal Retreat – For some people with families, the work desk may be the only personal space you have!

Given these different elements, when you think about desk organization, think strategically about how you want to dole out those square inches.

  • Do you really need that tape dispenser and stapler in the corner? Or would you be better off with a coaster for a visitor’s drink or a family photo?
  • Do you need those files on the desk because you are actively using them, want to remember them or are they there because you don’t have anywhere else to put them or don’t have time to move them?
  • When you open the closest desk drawer, what do you see? The objects that you draw on every day, or miscellaneous stuff that just got tossed there?

Every time you look at a file, you are consciously or unconsciously making a millisecond decision about that file. What is it? Do I need it right now or not?  Those moments of decision add up and drain energy. Organizing your desk in a way that optimizes what you have for the functions you need will save energy through the course of the day.

This does NOT mean that everyone will benefit from the minimalist approach – removing everything that is not essential or being immediately used.   It does mean being mindful about what you have and reprioritizing the placement of items to keep the most frequently used items close at hand.

Organizing your desk in a way that best supports your needs, both professional and personal, saves energy. Taking time now will save energy later!