How To Organize Your Desk For Productivity

Today is "Clean Off Your Desk Day!" I challenge you to get your desk cleared today. Then leave a comment letting us know ONE odd thing you found on YOUR desk while cleaning it off. πŸ˜‰

Organize Your Desk

Need some simple home office organization ideas?

Want to learn how to organize your desk in a way that increases your productivity and efficiency? Keep reading!

I'm in the process of wrapping up my 2014 accounting and getting 1099's out before the deadline at the end of the month. I rarely ever get my books in order this early. I'm usually closer to April 15th getting everything done and filed, lol.

It's a new year though, a fresh start, and a great time to do things different - meaning BETTER. And to finally get more organized. Don't you agree?! πŸ˜‰

To prepare I had to clean off my desk from all the clutter that had piled up with the million and one projects and tasks I always seem to be doing simultaneously (ack!).

Clear the desk, clear the mind.

A clean, organized work space makes a HUGE difference in your focus, clarity and productivity!

How To Organize Your Desk For Productivity

I'm a very "out of sight, out of mind" type of person. Everyone is different, but if I were to put mail in a drawer I would totally forget about it!

Until they came to shut off my electricity, that is -lol. Fortunately I got smart and put my utilities and most other bills on auto-pay years ago. πŸ˜‰

This "quirk" of mine plays a part in how MY desk needs to be organized - and likewise, you should consider your natural tendencies when organizing YOUR desk.

It's important to choose organization methods that will actually work for you, not against you. You also need to make simple "habit changes", otherwise it's a total waste of time to organize as your space will just end up back in the same shape over and again...

Start by analyzing your usual habits:

What tends to get done, and what do you forget or lose or fall behind on most? Map out a quick list to get a feel for the pros and cons of your current desk setup.

Next, ask yourself WHY? It is probably for one of two reasons: your habits/tendencies, or your priorities. You may have good intentions with a certain goal, but if it just sits there and never gets done... it's obviously not a true priority for you.

That's something to consider. You may have too many priorities. In that case, it's time to simplify and focus on your TOP priority (or top three, perhaps) for awhile.

Like I said, I'm very "out of sight, out of mind". I tend to be super focused and one-track minded, especially when I'm in my home office or at my desk.

That makes it easy for things to pile up around me - fast! Which is NOT ideal... for my productivity OR for when I have unexpected company pop in. πŸ˜›

For me, the high priority and/or daily "stuff" needs to be ON my desk, front and center. Everything else needs to find another place so I can focus on those things and actually SEE them and get them done.

Move everything OFF your desk, except what you are working on right now. Then, before moving on to anything else, deal with everything that is left on your desk. Mail is one example. Don't just move it around - get it done and get rid of it! Work through everything else that is left on your desk in "get it done" mode. Then consider what is left - what needs to stay ON your desk, and why...

"Much of the stress that people feel doesn't come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they've started." -David Allen

I picked up this tip (and that quote) from Leo Babauta in Zen To Done: The Ultimate Simple Productivity System. It is the absolute best book I've ever read on learning to become more productive and efficient. It's a simple matter of making small changes and functioning at your highest potential in every moment - and it's so easy to do!

Leo is brilliant. πŸ˜‰

One of the keys is to find a logical place for everything. Like your keys, ha! If you always put them in the same place, you will never lose them. If you always deal with the mail the minute it comes in, it will never pile up.

A good rule to live by is: "Don't touch it more than once."

(That includes email!)

See it, do it, done.

^ Your work space should be organized in a way that makes this EASY. πŸ˜€

What Needs To Be ON Your Desk?

Once you've cleared your desk, dealt with trash and mail (and dust!), consider the things you constantly reach for - or the things you use daily. These are the ONLY things that should take up space on your desk.

I don't use my printer daily for example, but I do need it handy. It takes up a lot of space on my desk, so I moved it to a small table beside my main desk.

My cordless phone (*gasp* YES, I still have a landline! lol) is something that has NOT been on my desk but I am constantly reaching for it. It's quite small compared to my printer/scanner - so that was a smart trade for desk space. πŸ˜€

I also usually have a stack of books and magazines I am currently reading sitting on the edge of my desk. While it's convenient, it looks "messy". I decided to grab a set of nice bookends on Amazon to take care of that.

If you're an Amazon Prime member, there's no need to go out on some big "organization" shopping spree. Just go to Amazon and grab a few key low-cost items to organize your desk and home office space. It'll arrive at your door in a couple of days and you'll save lots of time & money that way! πŸ˜‰

I found I didn't need much - some nice bookends, a mail organizer, and I ordered some large storage bins for a variety of things I need to store (such as years worth of tax documents, for example).

See: Desk Accessories & Work Space Organizers

* The desk organizer featured at the top of this post is the Rubbermaid 12-Slot Organizer, 21W x 11 3/4""D x 16""H, Black (1738583).


Get Rid Of The Clutter & Paper Piles!

I've been SO much more productive and efficient since I moved away from paper and started using Evernote. You can use it for everything from tasks and ideas, to keeping a running grocery list, and even to outline your books & products! It syncs across every device you own automatically, and it's free to use. You'll never lose anything again. πŸ˜€

Consider all the papers and/or notebooks on your desk now. If those ideas and notes were in Evernote, you could easily use the SEARCH feature to find anything super fast. It's clean, organized, efficient - and a huge time saver!


I hope this gives you some ideas to better organize your desk, and challenges you to get your desk and work space cleared today!

Stay tuned! Next we're going to look at creative ways to organize your digital files for increased productivity, as well as more easy Home Office organization ideas! πŸ˜‰


p.s. If you need a Strategy Session to kick of 2015 and get on the fast-track to success, you can secure it now and then schedule it anytime in the first quarter at your convenience. Or consider joining us in the ClickNewz Mastermind instead. It's an awesome group and there are tons of perks...

I would love to help you reach your goals this year!

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...moreΒ»


  1. Hi Lynn,

    Great ideas and tips. I had actually already cleaned off my desk and moved some things around; didn't feel comfortable; moved them again; not comfortable and back where I started at now. LOL

    Things are less cluttered on my desk. Now the chair behind me is a different story. I still have to go through all of that to see if I need to keep it or not.

    I'm still working with Evernote to keep me on track. I have a lot to dump from there too. I made way too many folders when I started and so many could be put together or thrown out completely.

    Thanks for the nudge again to finish up.

    • You'll really enjoy my next posts then, or organizing your digital files. πŸ˜€ I keep my Evernote super simple, but am in the process of updating/organizing mine as well. Great to hear you are making your work space clean & comfortable, in a way that works for YOU!

  2. Great post, Lynn. Gosh, my desk... I swear is hopeless. Like you, if it's not in front of me, I forget it. So everything gets piled on my desk so I don't forget it. The front piles are yet to be done, the back piles (which use to be in front piles) are of things I have done but have never found their way to any sort of "real/correct" filing system. Some days I even have to dig to find my keyboard.. lol.

    Anyway, this is a very timely post for me and much appreciated. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on digital files because, believe it or not, I'm even worse about organizing digital stuff. My brain struggles to work in or create "labels" so this has been an issue for some time. I can't wait to learn how you do it.

    • Oh no! You have to be able to find your keyboard. πŸ˜‰ LOL. Do you have a file cabinet or drawer in your desk? What is it you NEED in those "done piles" that should be filed or kept? Consider if it's really something you should keep, and if so - create a system for filing your "done" projects. It'll give you a nice sense of accomplishment, and of course more space on your desk!

  3. Great tips Lynn, I'll have to try Evernote and see if I can keep all of my millions of lists in a digital format - I'm still a sucker for notepads and writing lists but they end up everywhere! πŸ™‚

    • Hi Tash! I absolutely LOVE Evernote. It has really simplified my life. πŸ˜€ I used to be a "paper person" too, but like you... realized it really wasn't working for me in terms of productivity or efficiency. Especially now that I am cross compatible and have a tablet & mobile on top of my computers! I love having everything synced on every device and easily at my fingertips.

  4. Nothing too odd found on my desk but I took the challenge and cleaned off my desk today and wrote a post about it. Here's to more focus and clarity tomorrow!

    Great tips! I love Evernote and plan to use it way more in 2015.

  5. It's so funny that I saw this post today, because on my list of things to do tonight was "Clean desk!" So this was an extra nudge to make sure I got it done. And I did!

    I didn't find anything particularly odd, but there was a Matchbox car and a plastic elephant figurine. This is what happens when you have a 4 year-old. Ha ha!

    I would say that my business is 90% paperless and I'm so happy that way! I, too, use Evernote for just about everything! I have lists and notes for business and personal stuff, from meal plans to gift ideas for family to product creation ideas.

    But I still use a daily planner because I like to see things written down in front of me, and I do love the physical act of crossing things off! Hope you're having a great 2015! πŸ™‚

    • Way to go, Alicia!! πŸ˜€

      And lol at elephants and cars. My children are grown now but I have two great danes - one is just a puppy, so sometimes I find sticks & slobber on my desk. πŸ˜› Yuck! haha

      Evernote is absolutely amazing. Like you I enjoy the act of crossing things off - so I have my running list in Evernote and I use the strikethrough option to cross things off as I get them done. They move from my "task list" to my "done list" - and all very neat & tidy compared to paper!

  6. Lynn,
    This is so true. All the clutter around me drove me crazy. I cleaned my desk, my office, I put all and everything in trash ans it was STILL a feeling of being overwhelmed... So I cleaned my computer and that made me feel even better - I just simplified my digital life because I was so sick of all the clutter, all the files, all the - whatever! I created a course about that because I found someone who has really complete control of his computer. I was blown away and while doing the course I started to clean my computer - wow, what a relief!

  7. I can't say this is strange, but I did find a receipt from July for a show that I went to. It's perfect for a scan it to Evernote momento and then toss πŸ˜‰ I'm looking forward to your digital organizing tips.

  8. Lynn,

    Thanks for the reminder as well as great ideas. This is a constant challenge for me simply because I no longer have an actual desk... I work at my dining room table. If it helps, I typically eat at my living room table. πŸ™‚

    Regardless, I cleaned it up. And for the odd thing... my makeup bag is typically found there because I get ready for work there... whether it's my at home or at job work... yes, I'm too lazy to stand at my bathroom mirror to put on my face!! LOL

    • LOL Debi! That is one BUSY dining room table. πŸ˜‰ haha

      The great thing about having a dedicated home office space is the "home office deduction" on your taxes. For this reason I have my office set up in the biggest room in house. πŸ˜€

  9. Kate Williams says

    My desk was new so very clean with empty drawers! BUT I had an unexpected guest for 6 weeks (EEEK!) and my desk is in the "guest" room. When I started moving back into the guest room to make it my office as intended, the unexpected thing I found was the 2014-2015 calendar I had lost and replaced - right in the new desktop organizer where I must have put it sometime in early November! I allow myself only two paper products, my calendar and a spiral notebook (ONE!). I started using Evernote but it's not a habit yet. Now that I've read your post on organizing electronic files, I'm more committed to making Evernote a habit. Thanks, Lynn!

    • Hi Kate! You'll LOVE Evernote. πŸ˜€ You can even integrate your calendar with (free). πŸ˜‰ Going all digital is awesome. I love being able to access my files, my ideas/notes AND my schedule & calendar from my mobile, ipad, laptop if I'm in Marco Island sitting poolside, etc. It took me a bit to "make it a habit" as well, but it's the best change I've made in years!!

  10. How timely that your post showed up in my inbox today! Since Thursday, I've been clearing out my house. It's something I do twice a year at least. I'm trying to get down to just what I need or love or use. My neighbors came by too to see if I had wares they needed.

    Lynn, I'm very organized with most everything, but I do accumulate a stack of papers on my desk to refer to, but no matter how many labeled folders I use to put that material in, I forget about them too!

    Now for Evernote, I still don't get it and think I'd like some training on it. Everyone that uses it seems to fall in love; well, I want to fall in love too. How is it any different than all the other material we keep in folders on our computer? Thanks, Lynn, your content is always so valuable!

    • I envy you being so organized, Bea - that's a great trait! For me it's a tough "habit" to create. I'm grateful for Leo's book on that topic, lol. πŸ˜‰

      With Evernote, you have a search feature - which I find particularly useful. Everything is front and center all the time, and easy to access. For important files, you can right click the note and "copy link" (to the note) and then make yourself a "table of contents" or index of important notes that hyperlink to those notes. It makes finding and accessing things easy. Along with the search option of course. You can also set up shortcuts in the sidebar, which I use daily.

      You will LOVE how it puts everything in front of you, yet out of the way, easy to organize and easy to find and see, but not in your way.

      My advice is to just use it like you use paper or documents to start. Evernote can pretty much do everything but make lunch for you (lol) but I ignore a lot of the bells and whistles and keep it simple. I use it like I used to use post-it's, notebooks & text files - it's just BETTER. πŸ˜€

  11. Maurice Bernier says

    Thanks for the lesson and chance to participate Lynn. Gotta love "participaction!"

    On my desk right now:

    β†’ Gillette razor blades.
    β†’ One golf ball to remind me why I do this.
    β†’ Christmas cards - I don't know why?
    β†’ Upside down web camera - avoiding spies.
    β†’ ATM receipts - again, I don't know why?
    β†’ Calculators & remote controls which I don't know where they came from?
    β†’ Cup of coffee, ashtray - cigarrettes, ruler, check book, log book, scanner, Fax machine, envelopes, paper clips, pens and markers.
    β†’ lots more but the most important is the dust laying on top of everything.

    Anyone think I need a clean up? πŸ™‚

  12. I can't figure out if it's a blonde thing or a Gemini thing (I am both too), LOL, but you sound just like me when I read this post. I can't stand clutter and have to stay organized. Like you - out of sight out of mind.

    I keep my digital files organized by categories so I can find things when I need them. I keep them all in my documents file and only keep what I am currently working with on my desktop in its own file. Once the project is finished it gets moved into Documents into the proper category file.

    I so love Prime. It is well worth the money for me. I ship a lot to my kids in Hawaii, Alaska and Minnesota from New York so it has paid for itself 3 times over in shipping costs, saving me a bunch of money.

    I love the idea about the largest room in the house for tax purposes. Will have to re-thing that one on my next move. Great post, Lynn.

  13. My desktop is always a mess, but my computer desktop is great organiced. πŸ™‚

  14. Rosella Young says

    Hello, Lynn. You're right on the money. Containers help keep desk organized, neat and clean. Get great ideas by previewing the above website. Containers with designer look also gives the desk and room style. Sometimes looking at designs on desk or in room can help provide focus and reduce stress. It all works hand in hand. Thanks for introducing this special day to us. Do they also have a "Clean off your floor day"? Just wondering. Take care. Happy New Year! Rosella Young, AA-1 Designs, Invest in your shelf!

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