Desk management – 5 items that really belong at your desk (Originally Published on

Clare Kumar Writes About Desk Management – Photo Courtesy of

Clare Kumar - October 10, 2010

By Clare Kumar

Here we are, 8 weeks after beginning this series on organizing your workspace, finally talking about how to organize your desk. We have covered space planning, ergonomics, time management and information management before getting to the desk – the most used space.

Why? To have an uncluttered desk space that lets you focus on your work task by task, you need to have a place or a strategy to handle everything that might land there. Only then is it possible to clear your desk without causing chaos?

Take a look at your desk – you may see amongst the screens and wires an assortment of office supplies, papers, sticky notes, a snack or drink, files, calendars, a telephone, a lamp, and a planner for example. We have already reviewed how to store items that may accumulate on your desk while you work, but which of these really ought to be there?

The following 5 items are truly worthy of your desk real estate:

1. Task lighting and the telephone

Make space on your desk for task lighting – preferably on the opposite side of the hand you write with to avoid casting shadows across your writing. This is also the ideal place for a telephone, as it facilitates note-taking while you’re talking, and keeps the cord from interfering with your work.

2. Filing supplies

Keep the materials you use to label and file or store material close at hand – you’ll be more likely to put things away regularly and avoid a paper pile up. File folder labels and a fine marker work well to label file folders. Binders, hanging file dividers and magazine holders are best labeled with a thicker marker or a label maker for greater clarity.

3. Electronic Devices

You’ll want to keep your mobile phone accessible and likely charging while on your desk. Use stands or charging centres to keep devices close by and protected from spills. Keep cords and charging units for less often used devices in a nearby drawer or in a container within a cabinet or on a shelf.

4. Planner or notebook

Have a planner or notebook handy to jot down important numbers and phone conversations. This will prevent the loss of important information and reduce visual clutter. If you need to see notes to remember them, attach them to a board on the wall to keep desk space clear.

5. Basic office supplies

Keep handy only the writing instruments and office supplies you enjoy or are required to use at least weekly.

For other items, you’ll need to decide if the item really needs to be on the desktop based on how often you use them. If you use them frequently, find containers and desk accessories that fit both the items and space.

If desk space is limited or you need the full surface to complete your work, you’ll want to store office supplies in drawers, in containers in nearby cabinets or in a rolling drawer unit. Keep in mind a common cause of office clutter is inadequate or poorly used drawer space.

Coming up next in the series: Desk Management – 5 Ways to Control Desk Clutter

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY; on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones.Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

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