The 5 Succesful Steps to a Clean & Uncluttered Desk Drawer

The 5 Succesful Steps to a Clean & Uncluttered Desk Drawer

Gregory Han
Oct 10, 2011

This past weekendI was perusing some of our past Tech Tours and we stopped to admire the organization of Nick's picture perfect setup, particularly his tidy and organized desk drawer. At one time my own desk exhibited this level of organization, but it's admittedly digressed into what in time became a drawer of "stuff"; completely unorganized, cluttered and frustrating to look through stuff. I made it my goal this weekend to get my drawer life in order. Here's how I was able to accomplish Desk Drawer Clutter Zero.

My previous desk setup exhibited an ideal use of organizing trays for a collection of disparate elements. Where did it all go so wrong?

How to unclutter and organize your desk drawers:
1) Categorize your clutter. Using a technique often recommended for hoarders, I create three piles for paperwork: throwaway, file, shred/recycle. This was the bulk of my desk drawer's clutter. By simply setting aside about 15-20 minutes to go through all the paperwork I had shoved inside my desk in haste (and thus forgetting about), I realized 75% could be shredded or recycled. More than half of the work was done once I finished the "piles technique".
2) Rubberbands, trays and clips are your friends. Clutter and chaos often forms in time because assorted items aren't kept in specific spaces and allowed to float freely. Every time you nab something from your desk or add to it, it can make it worse if things aren't kept together by a clip or rubber band. I also liked Nick's solution, using a cut cork board inside trays inside his drawer to further organize his drawer space and keep items from moving around too much.
3) Promise yourself not to use the drawer as your catch-all. This will be the hardest habit to break, as I'm often in a rush and don't want to always make careful considerations about whether to file or toss an item. But by organizing my drawer to the minimum, it's already much harder for me to ruin all the work I've done, thus a neat and tidy desk is a deterrent against future clutter.
4) Use a filing system. I have a filing drawer. I recognize I need to use the labeled folders, even if the biggest file is "review later", as at least it's stored away in a file and not willy-nilly inside my desk drawer.
5) Schedule maintenance. I've now created a once every two weeks reminder using Alarms to keep diligent about reviewing my drawer. Seems like a small hassle, but in the long term maintaining your main desk drawer in an organized fashion will reduce stress and increase productivity.

I wish I had snapped a "before", but you'll have to trust me it was the exact opposite of this photo above. Mission accomplished.

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