The Authentic Assistant

A photo of a tidy desk and the caption reads the secret of a tidy desk

Congratulations, if you are reading this then, yes, you do want to find out about the secret to achieving a tidy desk.

Maybe it is the curiosity of whether it is that simple. Or could I achieve that goal of having a tidy and organised desk? 

Whatever it is that piques your interest, grab hold of it.

The hardest thing is starting and that can be the best thing as well. 

If you have read the post about how to have a tidy desk here, you have already done the first step.

How to organise your workspace

Firstly, you can relax. You don’t need to race to the store and buy every kind of organising item or even fall for the latest storage trend. Don’t buy anything yet.

Get your favourite music lined up. Maybe you want to listen to a podcast or an audiobook.

This is where it is all up to you and how you do it. 

Now you are ready to go and deep dive. It is time to clear out all the drawers and storage space you are using.

  • Throw all the pens and writing tools in one box.
  • Place all paper clips, binder clips, staplers, etc. in a pile. The small office supplies. 
  • Add the paperwork in another pile.
  • A pile for the miscellaneous items that you are not even sure how they got there. 

Clean and wipe down the drawers and containers you have been using and are now empty.

If you find things that are broken or empty then toss them (recycle if they can be.) 

Following this, take a long deep breath in, hold it, and breathe slowly out again. You are half way there.

Look at the desk and storage space you have

  • Has it worked for you?
  • What part or parts have worked for you?
  • What has not worked? 
  • Is the chair comfortable and at the correct height for the desk you have? 
  • Is the desk workspace big enough for you to carry out your work tasks? 
  • Does the space you have work for you? 
  • If you need space to have a folder open and paper on the desk to complete your work. is that available to you? 
  • Can you reach the tools you need to work? pens, highlighters, calculators, or whatever you need.

Then think about what your ideal desk or workspace would look like. Can you rearrange what you have to achieve it? Maybe it is just moving the desk beside a table. 

This does not have to be set in stone and there is no purchase necessary yet. 

Thinking about what you already have in your home, do you have anything that you could repurpose to help you in your workspace? 

Something as simple as a chair beside you to put your folder on or to add completed paperwork on. Or why not have the chair as the done pile and need to be filed? 

The chair can be removed when you have finished work and is now out of the way. Maybe you only need that extra work space one or two days a month. 

Moving the desk around is so much easier when it is empty and clear of everything. 

Try sitting down at your desk and see if the location works for you. 

Of course, if you live in a small home or apartment, space to move may not be possible. The chair becomes more interesting as an option. Obviously, don’t let it become a habit and leave it there to be piled up. That defeats the purpose of decluttering your desk.

Time to face the piles you have made

Whichever you want to tackle first that is ok. There is no right or wrong. 

The pen/pencil pile

Grab the pen and pencil collection you have and try out all the pens and throw out all the old and empty ones. 

Everyone has their favourites so keep them extra and group the others into sections. Pencils/pens/highlighters and others you have. 

If you have a top drawer or container for them to be easy to reach when you need them and not in the way for everyday use. 

The office supply pile

Go through the office supply section and collect all the paper clips together. 

Group the binder clips together in size. 

Anything else you use from staplers to hole punchers and so on. Scissors, no matter how many you buy and bring home, they all seem to disappear into a black hole. 

Again throw anything out that is broken and can’t be fixed. 

There is possibly now a nice pile to be thrown out. However, the pile of organised things should also be growing. 

Putting these supplies in easy-to-reach drawers or places will simplify your work and reduce stress levels. 

The miscellaneous pile

Well this depends on what you have found in your misc. pile.

Collect any items that belong elsewhere in the house and once you have finished the task here you can return them where they belong.

If there are chargers or electronic equipment check are you still using them for your work or not. Maybe they are old or broken.

The paperwork pile

Ah! The paperwork. There seems to be more paperwork than ever before. 

This is a personal thing for sure. Everyone has different ways of organising them. It depends on the work you do and how much paperwork you need to keep and work with. 

If you quickly go through the pile and sort out the ones that you no longer need and the ones you need to file or process, that is already a start. 

Any paperwork you no longer need can be either shredded if they have private information on them. However, if they don’t put them in the scrap pile and the back side of the pages which are blank can be your scribble or doodle pile.

I rip mine in half and keep the small A5 pile of scrap paper on hand with a binder clip for taking notes or quick things I think of. Paper recycling is just as important. 

Simplify your life and think of what kinds of things you need to work with. What works best for you? Storing the paper in folders and using the shelf space you have. 

Do you have more paperwork and not enough shelf space then maybe a file would work best for you. The best thing is to just search online for how to store and organise paperwork 

Check out the options of what would be available and just see if anything jumps out for you as a good way of storing and accessing the paperwork you need. 

The secret to achieving your tidy desk

When you notice things that annoy you and don’t work for you that is half the battle as it continues to frustrate you. Stop doing things like that. You are not them. What works for someone else does not mean it does for you. Figure out what annoys you and change it. Clear out your desk and storage area and rethink how you feel comfortable working. What do you need readily accessible and organise your desk for that purpose. Your workspace should be working for you and not against you. We all have too many battles in our life. This doesn’t have to be one of them. 

Once you have found your method of organising your workspace you will realise the storage you need. If it is buying the specific items then you know you need them. If you have things at home you can repurpose then you have found a new home for them. This could be plastic containers from the products you have bought to Tupperware containers that you lost the lid to but don’t want to toss. Whatever works for you. 

Always remember if you are trying out a new desk organisation method and you find it is getting frustrating again that is ok. Just do a clear out or grab a scrap of paper and note down what is going wrong and change it. Nothing is set in stone and making your workspace work for you means you become more productive.