7 Steps a Clean Desk and How to Keep It That Way

Today is National “Clean Off Your Desk Day.” The website nationaldaycalendar.com discovered that A.C. Viero of Clio, Michigan, was the founder of this annual observance. Why this day was created is unknown, but I will bet that Viero knew the benefits of a clean desk and wanted to share that with others.   

Keeping a tidy workspace can be challenging, especially when tasked with several ongoing assignments. Regardless of vocation or whether you work at home or at an office, there are many advantages of a clean, uncluttered desk:

·         Easier to focus on the task at hand.

·         Improved work environment.

·         More inspiration and confidence.

·         Less stress and better mental health.

If you are a writer or creative, a clean desk is still essential. While it’s been said that a messy desk is a sign of creativity, this is often a misnomer. Several projects in process in the work area can cause more distraction than focus. As a writer and crafter myself, I know this to be true based on my own experience and work habits. An uncluttered desk is not only a clean slate at the beginning of the workday but has been proven to increase productivity and improve time management.

Why not start the new year with a clean desk? Block out time this week to follow these 9 Steps to A Clean Desk. Use the time only for cleaning off the top of your desk. Don’t get sidetracked by cleaning out desk drawers at the same time. If desk drawers need attention, block off time on the calendar in the next couple of weeks to tackle one drawer at a time.

1.  First, clean off your entire desk.

Yep, everything. This includes the keyboard, mouse, office equipment, etc. As with any organization project, the best method is to completely empty the space that needs work. As you remove items, immediately throw away anything that is definitely trash.

2.  Dust, wipe and disinfect.

Because of COVID, it is even more necessary to keep a clean (and hygienic) workspace! Wipe down the entire desktop and dust away the hidden dust bunnies and food crumbs. Use a disinfectant cloth to wipe down your computer mouse, keyboard, phone, and other equipment that is touched. Use a static-free cloth to clean your computer screen and a can of pressurized air to loosen dirt from your keyboard.

3.  Add back items discriminately. 

Begin adding back to your desk those items that are repeatedly used every day. If the stapler is used only once a week, place it with other office supplies in a drawer.

4.  Place trash, recycling, and shred bins within easy access. 

I keep a basket for shredding, my trash bin, and a paper sack for all recyclable paper and cardboard next to my desk. When the sack is full, I simply toss it into the larger curbside recycle bin and grab another sack to start over again. 

5.  Create workstations.

Creating designated areas for different activities is vital if you work from home. If your desk area is too tight for stations, set up the desk for your primary activity only. For the other supplies of other activities, purchase a cart that can be rolled over to your desk when needed. 

craft desk 3

I love my wrap around IKEA desk. It allows me plenty of space for my crafts, and an area for my writing.

craft desk 1

6.  Purge paper.

With the paper that is left, sort, purge or toss. Immediately file or create a space for what is not currently being used. Create a limited space for paperwork on your desk so that you have no choice but to keep it organized.

7.  Make it a habit.

Commit to a desk cleaning time periodically. Add it to your calendar. Even if your desk stays tidy, it is always necessary to dust, wipe and disinfect. 

With a clean desk, you are on your way! Now to keep that desk shipshape, take five minutes at the end of each workday to prepare your desk for the following day: clear all trash, do a quick wipe, and stack work to the side of your desk. Now you’ll be ready to tackle tomorrow! I follow these steps, and it has helped me tremendously. I also take my physical calendar and place it open in front of my computer. The next time I sit down, I can immediately identify what I must complete first.  

Once you have a clean desk, here are some other ideas you may consider to help make your workspace more productive:  

Have enough lighting.

Even with the bright fluorescent lighting in offices, having a desk lamp to light up a specific work area is helpful. While overhead lighting can be harsh, a desk lamp offers softer, practical task lighting for reading and typing.

Adjust your computer screen to be at eye level.

Your screen at eye level helps you ergonomically. Looking up or down at your screen for long periods can cause neck discomfort. Consider purchasing a monitor stand, laptop riser, or adjustable desk chair for more comfort and well-being.    

Your screen at eye level provides a better webcam view. When on Zoom calls, your appearance is more appealing when looking straight ahead instead of looking down at a laptop webcam. Also, once you sit down at your clean desk, turn completely around to see what it looks behind you. What are others seeing on a Zoom call?

Keep Google or Alexa close by.

The Google Mini in my office has been handy for helping me spell words, find a piece of data quickly, or play music while working at my desk. Google also saves me time by adding items to my grocery list – something I always seem to think about when I should be writing!

Go digital as much as possible.

Going paperless is not only ecologically sensible but helps keep a paper-free desk. Just a reminder that digital files also need to be organized and purged periodically.

Congratulations on starting your new year with a clean desk! I hope these practical ideas will provide you with an improved workspace to carry out all you desire to accomplish in 2022!  

Share in the comments what you do to keep your desk organized!
What is one thing on your desk that you cannot live without? 

5 responses to “7 Steps a Clean Desk and How to Keep It That Way”

  1. Great idea on keeping my desk/workspace tidy. It certainly is NOT! LOL.i have not removed EVERYTHING from my desk since I set it up! I will have to do that AND disinfect the surface and give it all a good cleaning!Having it “movie set” clean would be amazing – something I have not seen in a long time!Thanks for sharing!

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