Organizing your office desk isn’t easy. But you already know that if you have piles of papers, magazines, books, mail, Post-its, pens, highlighters, and other office supplies dotting your desk’s landscape like pepperoni.
What you might also want to know are the effects of having an untidy desk:
In a survey by OfficeMax of over 1,000 adults in the U.S., 90% said they feel clutter has a negative impact on their life. 77% said their productivity is negatively impacted, which spells doom for your looming TPS report due date.
“Clutter around you splinters your focus each time you look around. This can cause a mental logjam that triggers the same feeling of stress that being overwhelmed by work does,” wrote professional organizer Brooke Stone on the relationship between clutter and mental health.
So how do you organize your desk space without taking too much time away from actually doing your work? And how do you easily keep your desk organized moving forward?
The answer is simple:
We’re going to show you how to organize your desk in under 4 minutes, about the same length as one song playing on the radio. If you follow these instructions, you won’t have to organize your desk at work, or home, ever again.
What’s the secret?
KonMari, a super-effective organizing method developed by famous organization and decluttering consultant Marie Kondo.
KonMari is so powerful that Marie’s clients never return. Not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t have to. The results are everlasting. And they can be for you too.
Ready to learn the best way to organize your desk once and for all?
Step 1. Hold an item from your desk and ask yourself this one question:
Does this spark joy?
Step 2. If you answer “yes,” keep the item.
Items that make you smile and laugh will brighten even the toughest of days with the tightest of deadlines. Keep them.
Step 3. If you answer “no,” get rid of the item.
Before you get rid of an item that doesn’t spark joy, say “thank you” to it.
Sounds insane, right?
But by thanking the item for the time it spent supporting you throughout your career, you’re making it easier on your conscious to toss it in the garbage, recycle it, or give it to a coworker who wants it.
A perfect candidate is the iPhone charger you have two of because one is your spare and the other is a gift you never use. Instead of letting the unused charger nibble at the sparse space on your desk, give it to that work buddy who always asks to borrow one.
Step 4. Repeat steps 1–3 for everything on your desk.
Repeat steps 1–3 for every single item on your desk, on your shelf, and in your drawer until only the items that spark joy remain. But skip your computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse, phone, and anything else you absolutely need to do your job since those tools should stay.
Step 5. Set a clean slate for all your joy-sparking stuff.
It turns out your desk space is less clean than you think:
The average desk has 400x more bacteria than the average toilet according to microbiologist and University of Arizona professor Charles Gerba. So be sure to clean your desk with disinfecting desk and office wipes, or desk and office spray cleaner and some paper towel.
Step 6. Assign a place to store every joy-sparking item.
For example, a great place to store your paper clips, tape, and Post-its are inside a small box or organizer inside your drawer. Out of sight, out of mind. Until the next time you need those office supplies to build a lint roller for your headphone jack and a keyboard cleaner.
Now here’s the most important thing for you to remember to keep your desk permanently organized:
When you’re done using a joy-sparking item, always put it back in its designated spot.
Eventually repeated behavior becomes a habit according to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology. At that point, you won’t have to think about putting things back where they belong. It’ll be second nature for you.
And just like that, your desk is organized, clean, and decluttered. Forever. Leaving you with nothing but a more focused, happy, and productive mind to crush your ever-expanding to-do list.
“It’s nice to be able to actually see the things that I care about, instead of just junk everywhere,” said Fast Company Senior Editor Erin Schulte after Marie Kondo organized her office desk. “What this does is it gets rid of a lot of the mental clutter and chaos. And it kind of just helps you focus on the things you’re actually supposed to be working on.”
Want to see Marie Kondo’s organization magic in action before you perform it on your own desk?
Watch this Fast Company video of Marie Kondo organizing Erin Schulte’s desk in less than four minutes.
And if you’re open to sharing your results, tweet us @MakeSpace with before and after photos using #TidyingUp. We’d love to see your desk transform into a terrifically tidy table, too.
Bonus: Get a free KonMari Cheat Sheet
Organizing your work desk is great and all, but what about your home?
There’s a free KonMari Cheat Sheet for that.