7 Quick, Easy Ways To Declutter Your Desk

Why decluttering your desk is a great investment of your time

There are a lot of good reasons to keep your desk neat and tidy. For example, making a good impression with coworkers, clients and senior management.

A well-organized desk also reduces the risk of sensitive information being compromised. Leaving loose papers and documents on your desk can put confidential information at risk.

Additionally, decluttering your desk makes it easier to find the items you need so that you can work more efficiently. Harvard Business Review makes a case for cleaning your desk, linking a messy workspace to lack of focus and increased stress.

Last, but most definitely not least, clutter makes it difficult to clean your desk and office supplies. Don’t think you need to be wiping down and disinfecting your desk regularly? Think again. From a Safety Now article:

“According to Dr. Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona, the average office worker has over 10 million bacteria living on its desk – that’s 400x more than the average truck stop toilet seat.”

In this article we’ve provided 7 quick and easy tips to declutter your desk. A little bit of clever organizing and you’ll have a clean, neat (and easy to disinfect) desk at your fingertips.

Other articles you might like:

Two square images. One image shows a close up of hanging file folders that have been grouped together with gold binder clips. The binder clips are labeled using clear Avery labels so they look custom made. The other image shows hanging file folders laid neatly on a desk and indexed with Avery adhesive tabs with printable inserts.
Labeled binder clips are great for grouping hanging file folders in your filing cabinet. Self-adhesive tabs with printable inserts make it easy to index them.

1) Make hanging file folders easier to access (and put away)

It’s tempting to just leave the stacks of file folders you pulled from your filing cabinet piled on your desk. But small stacks soon become towers of clutter if you don’t have a system for returning them.

When your filing cabinet is organized it’s easier to put files back in the right place and avoid folder towers. Firstly, indexing your hanging file folders is a must.

If you can’t see where things go, it’s impossible to stay organized.

Once your hanging folders are indexed, take it a step further by categorizing your files. Group them by purpose, time period, department or whatever categories make sense for you.

You can do this by color-coding your index tabs, or grouping folders together with labeled binder clips.

Pro Tip: Small 2/3″ x 1-3/4″ blank labels by the sheet are the perfect size for labeling binder clips and you can order as few as one sheet of labels. Clear film gives you a clean, printed-on look.

2) Take advantage of vertical space to get supplies off your desk

Vertical space is often overlooked in office organization. Instead we let everything that doesn’t work in a drawer pile up on our desk.

Clear the clutter by taking advantage of any vertical space you can find. Cubicle accessories like shelves, hanging file organizers and hooks are a great start.

If you don’t have cubicle wall space and/or can’t hang shelves, get creative. Take some inspiration from garage workbenches. A peg board or a cork board with push pins can be used to store small items like device cables off of your desk.

Two images. Left image features a cork board with device cables neatly hung up on push pins. Each cord is labeled with Avery barbell labels for what device they go to. Right image features an open laptop with several reminders stuck to it. The reminders are written on colorful Avery Ultra Tabs.
Use vertical space to store device cables identified with neat barbell labels. Ditch flimsy paper sticky notes for durable multiuse Ultra Tabs®.

3) Organize cables and store them neatly for easy access

When it comes to device cables, sometimes it seems like the only options are loose cables piled on your desk, or a drawer full of tangled cables. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

Neatly coiled labels fit better in drawers, and can also be hung on peg board or push pins. Neatly label them with barbell labels so that you waste less time searching for the right cable.

4) Upgrade from disintegrating paper sticky notes

Everyone needs reminders. Torn or crumpled paper notes don’t look neat or professional. Worse, when they lose their “stick” and fall off, you can end up missing important information.

Our multiuse Ultra Tabs are made of durable plastic you can write on. They’re repositionable too, so that you can remove and re-stick them securely as needed. Measuring 2 by 1-1/2 inches, they’re perfect for jotting down a reminders.

Two images side by side. Left image shows a vertical 3-tier letter tray for desktops. The tiers are labeled “Incoming,” “Outgoing,” and “High Priority.” The right image shows files neatly organized in a desktop holder. The file folders are neatly labeled with clear Avery file folder labels.
Label desk storage for active paperwork on your desk. Try blank removable labels by the sheet to print your own neat, professional letter tray labels and clear file folder labels for a clean and modern look.

5) Create space to sort and store active paperwork on your desk

Give everything a place to avoid stacks of paper clutter that take over your workspace. A letter tray to sort incoming, outgoing and high-priority paperwork also takes advantage of vertical space.

Neatly labeled file folders make it easy to transition working files to archived file storage when the time comes. A set amount of space to store working files forces you to streamline paperwork before it takes over.

Get more tips for conquering paper clutter on your desk with our list of top office supplies for organizing paperwork.

6) Use portable storage for work that travels or changes hands

Take into account documents and paperwork that moves around. For example:

  • Team documents that get passed around
  • Meeting and/or presentation materials
  • Work you’ll need while traveling for business
  • Paperwork that travels between work and home

Binders, dividers, and expanding file pockets are perfect for storing and organizing papers that move around. With everything neatly contained, you don’t end up with random piles of work cluttering your desk. 

Close up of an open planner for work. The planner is organized with color-coding labels and Avery Ultra Tabs.
Make time to keep your desk clutter free. Upgrade your time management tools with color-coded mini Ultra Tabs to organize your work planner and color-coding dots to prioritize task lists.

7) Organize your time and keep your desk clutter free

Many times our desks build up clutter because we are simply too busy to pay attention.

Just five minutes a day can keep your desk clutter free. If you never seem to have even five minutes to spare, it might be time upgrade your time management tools.

For example, organizing projects appointments and goals in a planner. Not only will you have more of a birds-eye view of your time, planners are also excellent tools to help you be more productive.

Simple prioritization of tasks can also help. It takes a lot of mental energy to keep all tasks front-of-mind all the time.

Organize to-do lists and task lists by priority. When you’re able to focus on just what needs to be done immediately, you can free up time to keep your desk organized.

Declutter your desk to boost productivity

Decluttering your desk helps you work more efficiently, stay focused and make a good impression. Not to mention making it easier to clean and disinfect when needed. 

Organize hanging file folders with index tabs and group them by category so that they’re easier to access and put away. Take advantage of any vertical space you can find to get supplies off your desk.

Keep cables tidy and out of the way with barbell labels and clever vertical storage. Ditch crumpled paper sticky notes for durable Ultra Tabs when you need to keep reminders in line of sight.

Sort and store active paperwork with a vertical letter tray and neatly labeled file folders. Round up active paperwork that moves around with binders, dividers and expanding file pockets.

Use prioritized lists and a work planner to create time in your schedule to maintain your new clutter-free desk.

How do you deal with desk clutter? Let us know in the comments. Bookmark this post for later or share on Facebook to help your office-mates declutter their desks too.

4 thoughts on “7 Quick, Easy Ways To Declutter Your Desk”

  1. I LOVE your Ultra Tabs, especially as I can move and reuse them. So glad I discovered them!

    1. I can’t agree with you more Fay! Avery Ultra Tabs are the best thing ever and very popular among Avery employees as well. I use them in my cookbooks, magazines, textbooks, planners, you name it. Ultra Tabs are everywhere in my house. I even give them as gifts to friends who haven’t discovered them yet. And all the new designs and colors are amazing. So happy you like them too. Make sure and follow us on our social media accounts for even more ideas on how to use Ultra Tabs, like on your vinyl record collection.

    1. I believe I ordered mine from quill but, I think they are also available at staples or possibly Amazon.

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