The trend of only keeping things that bring you joy and removing everything else may need to be expanded when it comes to our desks. Sometimes joy isn’t found in staplers, folders and laptops, yet many things are essential to our job and creative environments. Your workspace is often a reflection of your personality and habits.

Today’s “desk” is fluid. It could be a conventional desk with filing drawers and a center drawer to hide a multitude of things. Or a flat surface with no drawers, like a dining room table, kitchen counter or a table at your favorite coffee shop. Mobile office is another option.

Whatever the definition of your desk, having a space that’s clean, streamlined and organized produces more time, focus and joy than a desk that’s covered up with to-do lists, scraps of paper scribbled with phone numbers and invoices dated last month. Begin with gaining clarity of what you want to accomplish at your desk. Do you see clients in this space? Should this be a creative zone? Do you share this spot with others who definitely do not have your same thought process of putting things back? Here are tips to bring productivity, practicality and joy into your office.

  • Define the space. The rule of thumb is to keep your active files closest to you, reference files accessible yet not in prime space, and permanent files in another room or storage area.
  • Your natural workflow. Most people have a left-to-right tendency. Set up your desk with incoming items on the left side: phone and computer with workspace in the middle and outgoing items to your right.
  • Declutter. On Monday, take everything off your desk. As you need something, put back only what’s needed to complete the task/project. On Friday, find a new home for the excess like a drawer, storage closet, recycle bin, shredder or trash.
  • Go vertical. Keep as much off the surface of your desk by utilizing wall space for calendars, photos, flow charts, etc.
  • Visual clutter. Sticky notes, photo frames, inspirational messages, even your monitor can be overwhelming with clocks, weather, photos and icons. Limit what’s competing for your attention.
  • Organize drawers with office supplies. Use containers to prevent complete chaos. You should not have a “junk drawer” at your desk. Once you have established a place for items, watch the equilibrium. Enough is enough when it comes to ink pens, paper clips and rubber bands. Just because you can buy 2,000 paper clips doesn’t mean you should have them all in your drawer.

By making your space organized and clutter-free, you’re reducing stress and freeing up time and energy. With organization comes productivity, which in turn brings you the joy you are seeking. Joy isn’t found in things; it’s in the way you feel when you’re at your desk. It’s that simple.