Clean Desk with Fish Bowl

I recently found a cool Flickr group called Office Space where people have submitted pictures of their offices and workspaces. It’s inspiring to look at creatively designed office spaces. In fact, I could keep on relishing their beauty for hours on end… but if I ever want to finish writing this post, I must conquer the temptation.

This brings me to my question of the day: What does your office space look like?

Is your desk full of miscellaneous objects such as phone chargers, keys, remote controllers, coffee mugs, stationery, nail clippers, unorganized notes, and gummi bears? Would you be embarrassed to take a picture of it and post it on Facebook?

If you answered positively, let’s take a look at what we can do to make your office space more comfortable.

Since an office space is a place where you usually spend the greater portion of your day, I think it’s important that you make it as comfortable as possible. In fact, you should treat it as a personal sanctuary where you can feel at home, regardless of where it’s located—your office space may be a small cubicle at your workplace or an ordinary room in your house.

At least I can personally feel more productive when my surroundings radiate peace and harmony. You’ll, of course, have to arrange your office space according to your own preference. That is, if you can feel cozy working 8h+/day amid piles of clutter and dirty dishes and stacks of empty pizza boxes, by all means, do that.

But if you find yourself attracted to cleanness and maybe even a bit of minimalism, we need to do some work.

Step Número Uno — Unclothe Your Desk

Completely. I don’t care where you put your things, but be sure to remove every bit of clutter off your desk. This change is only temporary, so you shouldn’t spend too much time arranging at this point. If you ask me, the best spot to dump your stuff would be the floor.

Step Número Dos — Wipe Your Desk

Take a shred of fabric (that hasn’t been used for polishing the toilet bowl, floors, or any other filthy targets), moisten it with water, and begin scrubbing off the crust that has accumulated on your desk. At a glance, your desk might look clean, but don’t let your human eyes deceive you. Use a white cloth if you don’t believe it.

Step Número Tres — Define the Role of Your Desk

What is the main reason you come to your desk every day? For me, that would be to use the computer. For others, it could be drawing comics, practicing calligraphy, filling out forms, or just resting your arms when meditating.

If you want to transform your desk into a super-clean/minimalist workspace, you must define the purpose of the desk, because if you don’t, it’s just going to attract more clutter.

For the rest of this guide, let’s assume that your desk’s main role is to accommodate your Mac or PC.

Step Número Cuatro — Install Your Main Tool

Place the main object, i.e., your computer, on the desk.

Set it up neatly so that all the cords and cables attached to it remain hidden. One of the ugliest sights that can plague an office is the presence of a disheveled bunch of cords that are all tangled up or otherwise resting haphazardly around the computer.

But, again, don’t spend too much time tweaking things at this stage. We’ll come back to that later once everything else has been placed on the desk.

Step Número Cinco — Choose Your Daily Items

Now that your computer has been secured, it’s time to look at all the other items that rested on your desk before the cleanup. You need to make some critical choices. What can you discard? And what should you absolutely leave on the desk?

Let’s rephrase the last two questions. Which items will you be using on a daily basis?

This is key. You don’t want to leave things on your desk that you’re not going to use frequently. Sure, it’s handy to have all your binders at elbow-length, but if you end up touching them just a couple of times a week, I strongly advise you to store them someplace else.

What I like to keep on my desk (apart from my MacBook) are:

  1. cell phone and charger
  2. wallet
  3. key case
  4. leather journal
  5. skin cream (I have dry skin so I use it daily)
  6. book (that I’m currently reading)
  7. my Moomin mug (I like to drink tea when I’m at my desk)

When you’ve selected your items, simply place them on your desk.

Step Número Seis — Perfect the Order

Now it’s time to make the final adjustments.

Start with the computer. Make sure all the cords are plugged correctly. Use cable clips and velcro ties to organize cords and cables. If you slipped a mousepad underneath your mouse, this is your last chance to decide whether it’s absolutely necessary to keep it there.

Finally, position all the rest of the items neatly to their correct places.

Step Número Siete — Clean Up the Discarded Items

Remember the items you dumped on the floor when we started? They need to be moved to their new homes. The best option, of course, would be to get rid of them altogether if they’re not going to be used. Either gift them, sell them, or dispose of them. But if you’ve convinced yourself that you’ll use them in the near future, store them appropriately.

Last But Not Least

When you’re done with the cleanup, it’s good to consider taking up a couple of new habits—if you don’t practice them already.

  1. Wipe your desk every day. Keep the muck away. Pay special attention to spots where you use the mouse and station your coffee mugs. Be sure to lift up objects when wiping in order to cover the whole desk.
  2. Keep your items where they belong. This reduces the amount of time you need to spend cleaning your office. Whenever you finish using your phone, put it back to its place. Do the same with every item you use.
  3. Declutter your desk periodically. As time passes, you might notice being surrounded by alien objects. This is an indication that you should do some decluttering again. Don’t let your office space become the junkyard it used to be. Prune regularly.

I hope this guide has helped you gain better mastery over your office space. Do you have any tips to add? I’d love to hear them (as well as any pics) in the comments below. Thanks.