Albert Einstein once said that messy desks are productive workspaces. But we’re not Einsteins– none of us white collar workers are or are even remotely close to him, otherwise we wouldn’t be where we are. So let’s stop taking decluttering advice from the man. Instead, we’re here to offer you some practical ways to declutter your workspace.
Such a notion and practice is even more important if you work from home. Let’s stop channeling Oscar the Grouch and turn your workspace from a trashcan into an actual battlestation that you can post on Instagram.
Along the way, we might also recommend some affordable items that help you declutter your workspace. Some of them might take you to an affiliate site and can help support our website. Also, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all affair, but we’re basing our advice off of general adult behavior during work.
Vertical Space Beats Horizontal Space
Space is appealing and might give you the illusion of freedom and movement in your work area, but let’s face it, more horizontal desk space is just more areas for you to deposit your mess if your organizational skills and habits are average. Moreover, that’s just more space to clean in the event that laziness or business takes over. Not exactly ideal for productivity.
So you might want to consider investing in vertical spaces instead. That means multi-tiered desks with drawers instead of table spaces. Compartments for documents or even bookshelves also count here as vertical space.
Organizing a vertical space is easier than cleaning up a horizontal space. And now, because you have tiers or levels in your workspace, you designate them according to your needs or priorities. Levels that are hard to reach can be receptacles for hats and bags instead, and you can confine a tier or level to a purpose (like work or recreation) wherein they’ll contain the corresponding items.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of desks with lots of vertical space, allowing you to organize more easily and to save space. There’s a small one for laptop users and even something as creative as this desk.
Cable Management Hooks & Ties
You don’t even need to buy literal cable ties and cable management paraphernalia, any piece of rubber tie or even hair ties will do. But of course, actual cable management equipment is a more elegant solution.
After all, cables are some of the leading causes of anxiety-inducing clutter in one’s workspace.
If you have a desk with innate cable management solutions (most modern designs do), then you’re all set. If not, then routing cables is easy enough with a few DIY hooks– some of which don’t even need to be drilled.
This way, your cables are well-hidden in lines. You can also leverage monitors as some of the modern monitor models actually come equipped with cable management hooks in the back. You’ll mostly be tucking the cables in areas you don’t see anyway, so the back of the monitor is a good spot for hiding.
Avoid Paper as Much as Possible
If there’s a mess on your desk right now, there’s a big chance it’s made out of paper. Anything from documents to even bills and receipts can add up to the pile. Pretty soon, it’s going to get difficult to see which pieces of paper you actually need and which ones are fine to use as wipes for your greasy french fry hands.
So the lesson to be learned here is to modernize. Just avoid any paper that isn’t in a book or can be stored easily in a folder. And even then there’s still a chance you’d make a mess of papers.
If possible, just embrace productive digitization. Because if you need paper, then you usually also need pens, and clips, and fasteners, etc. It’s a domino effect of clutter and often it contributes to Earth’s garbage.
A Separate Table for Food & Drinks
To save time, a lot of us likely prefer to eat in our workspaces instead of going down a floor or walking to a dining table and losing focus just to allot 30-or so minutes to breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s messy, but that’s one of the realities of working from home (sometimes even for office workers).
But you can always minimize the fallout by not eating at your main table. There are wheeled mobile desks around being sold for cheap and these work well as mini-dining areas for when you can’t be bothered to take a break from your focus.
This way, it’s easier to clean up after your food breaks. In case you spill something, you can also be more confident that it won’t soak up on the keyboard or the deskmat (a tragic event). Once you’re done, these wheeled desks are easy to stow away.
Apart from dining, these desks can also serve another purpose as elbow rests for when your mouse needs to be on the same level as your elbow in order to alleviate a condition called mouse shoulder.
Keep A Small Trashcan Nearby
At the end of the day, you can only be so tidy no matter how much you declutter your workspace. You’d eventually still make bits of mess from crumpled tissue to Red Bull cans.
So you might as well get a small trash can so they don’t occupy space on your desk. That way, you also won’t have to stand up and haul all the accumulated garbage in your workspace.
There are plenty of choices as far as small trash cans go. Metal mesh trash cans work well since air can still pass through it, ensuring that it the garbage doesn’t become humid or moist enough for bacteria or molds. Or just get a plastic one and avoid throwing wet stuff into it.
You’d still have to empty the trash at the end of the day, of course, but at least it won’t be on your desk if you forget or fall asleep from exhaustion. We hope these ways to declutter your workspace helped, and regardless, do share them with the world so we can all work in better peace.