Today’s article is about the organisation of the office desk. For many people, the office desk is the centre of their work. Whether if working in the office or in their living room, on the office desk are often placed all the important things. Instead of a tidy, well-organised and structured setting, it can quickly turn into a place where to put the post, notes, or items of all kinds.

It can be hard to maintain an overview considering the quantity of documents and notes. It is proved that people who work in a tidy and well-organised place, have a more productive everyday working life. The reason for that is not only that they have to spend less time searching.

Within a tidy setting at work, you will concentrate much better because the risk of getting distracted is minimal. Therefore, work can be done quickly and more efficient.

So, the advantages of a having a system to tidy your office desk are obvious.

Organising the office desk: advantages

  • Saving time
  • Improved concentration
  • More mobility
  • Positive impression on colleagues and clients

In this article, we will introduce 10 tips and ideas for the organisation of your office desk. They will help you to create and maintain a better system on your desk!

Organising a good and consistent system for documents

Ordentliches Ablagesystem: Ordner im Büro

Having special systems for documents will guarantee finding important documents quickly. / Picture: Bacho Foto /

If you work with lots of documents, you should take the following tips into consideration in order to create a well thought-out, efficient system for all remaining documents.

  • Therefore, get some files of different colours (for example on Amazon).
  • Within the files you can increase the clarity by using alphabetical registers.
  • You can also use table of contents within transparent folders in your files, or label important documents with colourful sticky notes.
  • To have a successful system you must sort and file documents regularly, so no big stack of paper can evolve.

We also recommend, purchasing and using several document shelfs and writing labels for them.

  • Set up one shelf exclusively for documents that have been worked through and only need to be placed in their file.
  • Once a week, take time to sort all these documents into the corresponding files.
  • Therefore, you don’t collect documents for weeks and so prevent unnecessary tidying up.
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Take notes efficiently

Most mess on the office desk results from the numerous notes that get taken during calls. Of course, it is important to write down good ideas immediately in order to keep the focus on and remember everything afterwards.

But you should avoid attaching too much sticky notes and keywords onto the office desk and monitor. They will lead to unconscious stress when realising what still has to be done.

  • It can be helpful to purchase a notebook (e.g., from Moleskine on Amazon).
  • You should always have this notebook close at hand.
  • Take important notes in it.
  • Good notebooks also provide a pocket folder for collecting important things.
  • Whether at meetings or calls as well as when on the move, you can write down important ideas at any time.

Don’t forget to have a look through your notebook regularly and transfer upcoming tasks to your diary.

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Using a organised post tray

    • If you’re working in a job or position where others give you new work quite often, or if you’re receiving a lot of post, you should purchase a post tray.
    • This can be a tray for magazines, one simple basket or a document holder (likewise this one on Amazon).
    • More important is choosing a conspicuous colour, so everybody recognises where to put post and information for you.
    • Ideally, put this post tray on top of your office desk, so you or your colleagues can put new documents in it.
    • Therefore, you avoid unnecessary stack of paper which possibly will even grow when you’re absent.
    • You will also see immediately if you received anything new.
    • Work through your post tray regularly and add accruing tasks to your diary. By that you will retain fully control of your documents even when not in the office.

Minimal decoration on the office desk

Reduzieren Sie Dekoelemente auf dem Schreibtisch auf ein Minimum, damit Sie ausreichend Platz zum Arbeiten haben. / Foto: nd3000 /

Only decorate your office desk discreetly, so that you got sufficient space to work. / Picture: nd3000 /

  • Almost everybody wants to personalise their workplace with some motivating, personal items like pictures or souvenirs from their recent trip.

That’s exactly as it should be because we want to feel a little bit at home when sitting at our office desk. A glimpse at the family picture can improve in mood and increase our motivation to work. But you should also make sure to not overload your desk with decorative items.

      • Although personal items matter to you, they can occupy a lot of space of your working surface and provide distraction every time.
      • It is better to choose individual important items on purpose.
      • Choose one up to two personal items that are important to you and minimize the decoration.
      • Therefore, you create a more clearly workspace – and you will appreciate every individual item even more.

Healthy workplace

Besides a tidy, well-organised office desk and a well-organised post tray, you should also take a look at the wider workplace. In order to work concentrated, motivated and efficient, everybody needs a pleasant environment and relaxed atmosphere.

      • Your office desk should not stand in a passageway where you get interrupted and distracted permanently, neither it should stand in an isolated, tiny room.
      • Sometimes you got no influence on where your office desk is placed but even small changes can make improvements.
      • Place your office desk next to the window (not directly in front), so you get as much direct daylight as possible.
      • Air on a regular basis to supply sufficient oxygen.
      • Further, you can create a relaxing working atmosphere with some plants or a warm coloured picture on the wall

Small changes like these often can be made in the office as well. Sometimes even small details can create a whole new motivation for working.

Organising ongoing tasks better

      • Make sure that you only got the most necessary things at your desk while working.
      • Nowadays, it has been proven that multitasking doesn’t make us more efficient, instead the exact opposite occurs – it stresses our concentration and quality of working life. We may be able to work on several things at the same time but in doing so, our work becomes inaccurate.
      • It is better to work through one task after another systematically.
      • Put away items no longer necessary after each task so that you only have what you need for the moment on the desk. Therefore, you minimize getting distracted what helps to work more quickly and efficiently.

The paper bin – your best friend

In order to maintain all indicated steps for tidiness during the daily working life too, you should have a paper bin right next to you. Most of the time we tend to put items that are no longer needed aside to put them away “at some point later”. But from now on not anymore.

      • Put a paper bin right next to your workplace.
      • As soon as you don’t need it anymore, put it in there. You will be amazed of the feeling of riddance when throwing it away!

Always keep an eye on the watch

Auf die Uhr schauen. / Foto: moshbidon /

Having a watch will help you to bear in mind the working hours and deadlines. Important is not to be pressed for time and schedule tasks realistically! / Picture: moshbidon /

  • Another important tip for working more concentrated and efficient is the purchase of a watch. Indeed, most people got a wristwatch, as well as the time on the computer and a smartphone at hand. But a wall clock placed in field of view, reminds us unconsciously what time it is and how much time remains for a task. Obviously, you should not be rushed for time because then you would work less efficient as well. Though a brief glance at the time increases the willingness to concentrate.

Tidy up your office desk in the evening

One important tip at the end:

      • Tidy up your office desk every evening.
      • Best is to take the last 15 minutes of your working hours for sorting all documents.
      • Place everything that has been done in a file, empty the trays and the bin, power down the computer.
      • By that, you disconnect mentally from your day at work and create a tidy workplace for the next morning.

Tidy up your office desk

Vollgemüllter Schreibtisch

An untidy office desk on which work seems impossible. / Picture: Andrii Kozachenko /

The first and most important step for arranging the office desk is clearing out thoroughly:

      • Firstly, put everything down the office desk. All items, the monitor, pen, documents and what’s in the drawers and shelfs, should be cleared out in order to obtain an overview of what is there.
      • For sure, you will spot some items you forgot about or already missed.
      • After that, wipe your office desk with a moistened cloth as well as the drawers. Then everything will be clean and dustless for a fresh restart.
      • After that, have a look at every single item.
      • Ask yourself:
        • Do I really need this item?
        • When was the last time I used it?
        • Are there other items with the same function?
      • Sort everything you really need and want to keep into clear boxes.
      • With regard to documents, you need to ask yourself:
        • Do I need to keep these receipts?
        • Can they be filed too?
        • Can they be digitized?
      • Only keep documents you really need on your office desk.

If you’re feeling that you have not enough space on your office desk in general, you should consider purchasing a bigger office desk!


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The post "Organising the office desk: 10 tips on how to organise your workplace" written by:

Stephan Forstmann

Experte für Home Office und gesunde Büroarbeit

Stephan is from Dresden, Germany. He is a founding member of Deskonia since 2009.

Stephan is a home office worker since 2013 and became a home office expert. He shares his experience and publishes various tutorials for a better life at the office und creates tutorials on topics like ergonomics and communication.

In private, he is also very passionate about photography. He loves to chat about photography-gear and composition an. Stephan also published a lot of photography tutorials.

If you want to get in touch with Stephan, you can easily reach him via e-mail:

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