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15 Work Desk Organization Ideas to Increase Productivity

Desk organization has always been difficult for many of us that work from home or at an office.

For example, when I was a journalist, I stacked old newspapers, printed pages, and layout designs all over my large desk and a conference table.

My preferred method was to stack all of the paper, brochures, and old notes in a file cabinet next to my desk and then not look at it for a really long time.

Good luck finding my to-do list or finding a file at a moment’s notice.

Here’s the good news: there’s a better way to keep your desk organized (15 of them to be precise)!

Here are our 15 desk organization tips and tricks to help you stay on top of work and find anything at a moment’s notice.

Let’s get started.

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15 Desk Organization Ideas & Tips

1. Keep open desk space

Keep the area immediately next to your computer, free of any clutter. This way, you can review papers or documents right away without clearing any desk or office space.

And don’t keep things here too long.

Review, edit, approve, and move them along.

Sort of like a Kanban workflow!

This is another area where organization apps and project management software are great resources to have. In many tools like ClickUp, you can review and attach documents right there, keeping your digital space organized as well.

Interested in trying out a Kanban style workflow? Check out ClickUp’s Simple Kanban Board Template!

Bring all of your tasks, deadlines, and project details into one place with the Simple Gantt Chart Template by ClickUp
Bring all of your tasks, deadlines, and project details into one place with the Simple Gantt Chart Template by ClickUp
Download this template

2. Keep your desktop computer in front of you

Keeping your desktop or laptop in front of you helps you stay focused.

However, it should also be comfortable, so ensure that the monitor stands in a way that you can sit facing it with your back up straight. Give yourself enough room, about 1.5 feet in front of you.

And what about computer cords?

Keep those behind your desk and try computer wire ties to keep those cords and chargers at bay.

You can always put up a desktop organizer, too, if you like.

3. Put the things you use most near your dominant hand

Having your most frequently used items nearby can help prevent unnecessary movements that may lead to discomfort or fatigue. For instance, repeatedly reaching for an item across the desk can cause shoulder and neck pain over time, leading to reduced productivity and discomfort.

Quick Tip: Use your wall space. If you don’t have a lot of storage space in your office area or a small desk, the solution might be a floating shelf. However, if you don’t have any free wall space buy a stackable desk tray.

4. Keep only what you need on your desk

Keeping only what you need on your desk is an excellent way to stay organized and productive. A cluttered workspace can be distracting and make it difficult to focus on the task at hand. By keeping only essential items within arm’s reach, you’ll create a cleaner, more streamlined workspace that allows you to concentrate better.

5. Color code your files

Yes, keep the urgent and essential stuff.

But you can take an extra step and separate them into different sections with colored file holders, file organizers, or sorters. 📂

Let’s say:

  • Red is for marketing
  • Green is for sales
  • Blue is for creative/design
  • Yellow is for reports, and so on.

This way, you’ll quickly recognize a color when you need a particular item.

Apply this same level of color-coordination to your virtual office with ClickUp! Try using ClickUp’s Priority Matrix Template to organize your tasks with different colors and priorities.

ClickUp Priority Matrix Template
Use this ClickUp Priority Matrix template to identify critical tasks plotted by urgency, impact, and importance
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6. Group similar items together

Unless you’re an artist who uses acrylic paints, brushes, and lots of other supplies, all of your office supplies can probably fit in one drawer.

Just keep one office drawer for your office supplies that are multifunctional.

And it’s okay if your scissors go in there, along with your sticky notes, push pins, and favorite Washi tape.

Now, you can use your other drawers for other things, like those wires you never forgot to throw away or maybe even a designated junk food drawer. 😉

In ClickUp, you can incorporate grouping into your virtual office too!

Use our Organized Project Hierarchy to group related tasks and put things where they belong.

Bonus: Space planning software

7. Ditch the sticky notes

Are you the person who lines their whole monitor with sticky notes and then calls everything “important”?

As far as office organization ideas go, that’s probably not the best route to take.

Not only could one of those notes fall off and end up in the trash can, pinning so many notes on your monitor looks tacky and cluttered.

You’d be better off getting notifications in your project management or productivity platform where they’d be safe away from the dangers of the office vacuum.

Save those sticky notes for only the most urgent tasks or that last crazy idea that you don’t want to forget over lunch.

Remember, stick notes are for urgent reminders only. They are not a to-do list.

Want to find out more office organization options? Check out the 30 best tools to help you immediately.

8. Limit personal items

Limiting personal items like pictures and knick-knacks on your desk can be incredibly helpful for staying organized and productive. While it may be tempting to decorate your workspace with personal items, excessive clutter can quickly become a distraction, and take away from the functionality of your desk.

9. Control your notifications

Notification overload is a real thing. Though it may only happen digitally, it can still affect your mindset at your desk.

If you put your cell phone away in a drawer or off to the side in a phone holder, you won’t be as distracted.

Alternatively, opt for tools like ClickUp that let you customize your notifications!

The smart notifications let you decide what kind of actions trigger notifications. Whether it’s a new Comment, Task created, Status change, ClickUp can send notifications for whatever you want.

10. Only keep relevant and urgent documents on your desk

Remember how I started this article talking about all that paper?

How much of that was necessary?

How much of it was extremely urgent?

Not all of it, that’s for sure.

Once I reviewed a document, I should have tossed it out or filed it away for more long-term safekeeping.

Dreaming of a paperless office? Take a look at these 11 tips to make it a reality.

11. Use your books or take them home

At one place I worked, we had a book club where team members would read different books each month and then share them.

We also exchanged books quite often, and I even brought in a few from home.

This was great in theory until I started stacking them up high on a shelf. 📚

I used them for reference only occasionally and not frequently enough to keep them around.

If you don’t want to part with your books, get yourself a bookshelf or a shelving unit for them instead of scattering them on your desk.

Feeling creative? Try DIY bookends to keep the books where they should be.

12. Clean up before you go

One great habit is to clear your workspace before you go.

Try to clean up every day, so you get a fresh start the next day. And de-clutter the entire workspace or home office every week or month.

As for your virtual desk space in ClickUp, you can be just as productive!Make sure to clear out your notifications in your Inbox before you sign off.

This way you get a fresh start every day!

13. Create a schedule to re-evaluate

Schedule time in your day to take down those now-meaningless sticky notes and think again about how you’re actually using your system.

A Recurring Task to remind you of this is perfect for this!

You can also ClickUp’s Schedule Template to schedule your events and keep track of everything.

ClickUp Team Schedule Template
Plot your weekly tasks on a ClickUp Calendar
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14. Move clutter into an organized closet

Cluttered workspaces can lead to distractions, stress, and decreased productivity. By moving unnecessary items off your desk and into a closet or storage space, you’ll create a cleaner, more focused workspace that can help you stay on task and get more done.

You might find that simply having a designated space for storing items helps you feel less overwhelmed by clutter, leading to a greater sense of calm and control in your work environment.

15. Hide electrical wires

Hiding electrical wires is a helpful strategy for staying organized at your desk and increasing your productivity. Exposed cords and wires can create a visually cluttered workspace, leading to distractions and a sense of disorganization.

Additionally, having cords tangled and exposed can pose a safety risk, as it increases the likelihood of tripping or tangling them.

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See How Desk Organization Can Maximize your Productivity

You can use these organizational ideas to stay focused, productive and avoid a cluttered desk and mind.

Not to mention, your desk organization affects your ability to contribute at work. Your work environment has a trickle-down effect on your projects, tasks, and your team collaboration.

And when you’re free from clutter, you’re free to create.

It helps you put away distractions and create a great writing environment, work on the next big idea, or build something new.

Cleaning your desk can be the best thing you ever do. Whether you’re a student or professional, use these tips to up-level

So one day, when you find yourself bored at work, make sure to clean your desk!

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