Feeling Overwhelmed? Clean Your Desk

Alyssa Gregory
Alyssa Gregory
You’re winding down your week, and this weekend you won’t be cramming in work during every free block of time that pops up. You’re taking the weekend off. Good for you! But how do you put your work aside and forget about it…oh, and wouldn’t it be nice to avoid the Sunday evening dread about what you will be facing in the morning? As simple as it sounds, clearing off your desk before you shut down for the week can do wonders for your enjoyment of your work-free weekend. And it can generate feelings of preparedness for Monday. Take it one step further and adopt a more organized and consistent approach to your working environment, and you may find that you are happier, less stressed, and even more productive. So, why does a clean and organized desk help deal with overwhelm? The answer is as simple as the concept:
  • Clutter is distracting and can derail your attention.
  • It’s hard to decipher what is important when everything is a mess.
  • You are making yourself work harder when you have to overcome a visual obstacle in order to get down to business.
  • Seeing a messy desk when you are not working makes you think about everything you have to do.
  • It takes time to find what you need when nothing is organized.
You may be very organized with your work — successfully tracking tasks, managing client projects, staying on top of e-mail, and keeping your computer desktop clean. It’s just an important, though, to let that organization trickle over into your physical environment. Here are some tips for getting started: Start with a clean slate – If you have been neglecting your desk and office for a while, set aside a chunk of time across several weeks, if necessary, to get it to the level of clean and clear you need. Handle paper as it comes in – Once your desk is clean, it’s important to create a plan for maintaining it. Paper, including mail, is one of the biggest culprits of a messy desk. Take time every day to file, throw away or take action on every piece of paper on your desk. Separate work and personal things – Don’t let your workspace become overrun by non-work clutter. Assign another place in your house for items that you don’t need to do your work (i.e. household bills, your children’s school paperwork, personal letters and cards). Don’t overdo it
– Avoid letting your quest for organization take over your life. If you find that you are spending too much time trying to stay neat, it’s time to step back and reevaluate your plan. Decide what clean means to you – A clean and uncluttered environment means something different for everyone. Find the level of organization that works for you and stick with it. I, personally, accomplish more and feel better about what I’m doing when my desk is clean and my office organized. But, I also struggle to find the time to maintain organization as I go throughout my day. I started setting aside a few minutes at the end of the day (as I’m going through the last of my e-mails and preparing my tasks for the next day), when I straighten up and clean off my desk. And it works for my psyche. Is clutter getting in your way? What do you do about it? Image credit: Teak Sato

Frequently Asked Questions about Overcoming Overwhelm and Cleaning Your Desk

How can I start decluttering my desk when I feel overwhelmed?

The first step to decluttering your desk is to start small. Choose one area of your desk to focus on and clear it completely. This could be a drawer, a pile of papers, or even just your desktop. Once you’ve cleared this area, organize it in a way that makes sense to you. Repeat this process with each area of your desk until it’s completely decluttered. Remember, it’s okay to take breaks and it’s okay if the process takes a few days. The important thing is that you’re making progress.

What are some effective strategies for organizing my desk?

There are many strategies for organizing your desk, but the most effective ones are those that work for you. Some people find it helpful to use desk organizers or trays to keep their items in order. Others prefer to use digital tools to reduce the amount of physical clutter on their desk. Experiment with different strategies until you find one that works for you.

How can I maintain a clean and organized desk?

Maintaining a clean and organized desk is all about developing good habits. Make it a habit to clean your desk at the end of each day. This could involve putting away any items that are out of place, wiping down your desk, or even just taking a few minutes to organize your thoughts for the next day. Over time, these habits will become second nature and your desk will stay clean and organized.

How can a clean desk improve my productivity?

A clean desk can improve your productivity by reducing distractions and making it easier to focus on your work. When your desk is cluttered, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and distracted. By keeping your desk clean, you can create a workspace that is conducive to productivity and focus.

What should I do with items that I don’t need but don’t want to throw away?

If you have items that you don’t need but don’t want to throw away, consider donating them or giving them to someone who can use them. You could also consider selling them online or at a yard sale. If you’re not ready to part with these items, consider storing them in a box or drawer until you’re ready to make a decision.

How can I make my workspace more comfortable and inviting?

Making your workspace more comfortable and inviting can be as simple as adding a few personal touches. This could include adding a plant, a photo, or a piece of artwork that you love. You could also consider investing in a comfortable chair or a desk lamp that provides good lighting.

How can I manage digital clutter on my computer?

Managing digital clutter on your computer is similar to managing physical clutter on your desk. Start by deleting any files or programs that you no longer need. Then, organize your remaining files into folders or use a digital tool to help you manage your files. Make it a habit to review and organize your files regularly to prevent digital clutter from building up.

How can I stay motivated to keep my desk clean?

Staying motivated to keep your desk clean can be challenging, but there are a few strategies that can help. One strategy is to set a timer for 15 minutes each day to clean your desk. Another strategy is to reward yourself for keeping your desk clean. This could be a small treat at the end of the week or a larger reward at the end of the month.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when cleaning and organizing my desk?

Some common mistakes to avoid when cleaning and organizing your desk include trying to do everything at once, not having a plan, and not maintaining your clean desk. To avoid these mistakes, start small, make a plan, and develop good habits to maintain your clean desk.

How can I make cleaning and organizing my desk a fun and enjoyable process?

Making cleaning and organizing your desk a fun and enjoyable process can be as simple as playing your favorite music, listening to a podcast, or even watching a movie while you work. You could also make it a game by setting a timer and trying to beat your previous time. Remember, the goal is to create a workspace that you enjoy, so have fun with it!