How to start decluttering your desk
Neat freaks and an expert share decluttering tips to battle the all-consuming mess on your desk.
Get organised: here's how to start getting rid of that mess on your desk. Image: Getty Images
1. Make time for it
“Twice a day, before lunch and before I leave work, I spend 15 minutes decluttering my desk. At the end of the week, I get rid of everything I don’t need, like gifts. If you don’t throw things out, they tend to lie around forever and add to the clutter.”
Tan Yiying, 32, insurance executive
2. Organise, everything
“I place all the things I don’t use inside my cupboard instead of leaving them on my desk. I use files of the same design and colour because it looks neater, although I use different coloured pens to label them so I know what is in each one.”
Tan Hui Leng, 36, manager
3. Make a habit of it
“I use a Japanese concept called 5S to organise my desk.
SORT: Get rid of what isn’t necessary for your work.
STRAIGHTEN: Designate a space for all your office essentials, like files, notes and stationery so it is easy to put them back in the right place at the end of the day.
SHINE: Discard clutter (like food containers and used tissue paper) quickly.
SYSTEMISE: Keep your organisation method consistent and standardised.
SUSTAIN: Develop the self-discipline to stick to it.”
Jerlyn Lim, 40, lecturer
4. Do it at the end of each day
“I sort out all the paper on my table at the end of the day – the completed ones go into files and outstanding ones go into trays, with the more urgent ones on top.”
Paige Tan, 29, civil servant
5. Make your filing 'system' known
“I explain my filing system to the colleague I work with most often so that she knows the right places to leave different documents.”
Priscilla Kek, 35, administrator
6. The 'Clear as you go' approach
“I have a ‘clear as you go’ approach. As soon as paper hits my desk, I force myself to deal with it, even if it is just to place them in the right trays, in order of priority. I file documents that don’t require action into coloured files behind my desk so they don’t pose a distraction.”
Lena Yim, 30, senior executive
Professional organiser Georgina Wong shares these tips.
- Set aside at least five minutes a day to organise your desk.
- Allocate a space (for example, the right side of your computer) as your command centre and keep it clutter-free.
- Assign one drawer for odds and ends. Clear out unused items every six months.
This article was first published in Simply Her Apr 2012.