By Dale Isip

With remote work becoming ubiquitous – even beyond the pandemic era – home offices are becoming quite common for conducting business. Office spaces at home, however, are not always conducive to separating personal and business-related materials. The average U.S. household has a total of 300,000 items, for example, and this includes both home and work-related possessions.

Certainly, some of these items will overlap on your desk – which may become problematic if you are trying to conduct work remotely. A cluttered desk can lead to work problems, and decluttering has been associated with increased productivity, lowered stress, and even better physical health. The following are ideas on how to best organize your desk for work.

Arrange for Usage   

Desk organization starts with an overall layout that reflects how you use different items. For example, if your work revolves around being frequently on the phone, you will want to place your (home) office phone on your dominant side. For many people, this would be the right side of the desk. The right side of the desk could include a cellular or office phone, but also things like a mouse, notebook, or pen holder.

Your computer and keyboard, of course, should almost always be front and center – however, this may depend on the nature of your work. On the left or less dominant side, you will want to include things like file folders, a CPU tower, or a printer. The idea is to keep your desk arranged for work usage, and part of maintaining an organized desk is anticipating how you will use it.

Keep Supplies on Hand

You might not use office supplies as frequently as you do your computer, keyboard, or office phone. In this case, you will want to keep all paper clips, staplers, sticky notes, and index cards in a singular, but separate place in your office. These items can be placed in a drawer a few steps from your desk.

Alternately, you can keep these office supplies in a box on a nearby, easily accessible shelf. If possible, try to keep the office supplies as organized as possible, wherever they are. If you use staplers and paper clips more frequently than highlighters or index cards, for example, keep the former items towards the front or top of the container in which they are located.

Habits and Personal Items

To keep your desk organized, you will want to develop anti-cluttering habits. These can include things like opening your mail immediately (and disposing the envelopes properly in a nearby trash or recycling container) or putting files or pens back to their places regularly. An end-of day clean-up can also maintain an orderly desk.

You should also keep your personal items (photos, souvenirs, memorabilia, etc.) ideally at a three-item maximum. These items can be entertaining reminders of life outside work but could also easily provide distraction. By following these steps, you will be able to keep a desk that is organized, clean, and ready for higher levels of productivity at work than ever.