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Declutter your desk to reduce stress & boost productivity

How do you feel about your desk every morning as you sit down at it?

Is it an inviting space ready for you to sit at for a productive day or do you have to clear up paperwork, stationery and post it notes before you sit down?

tidy desk

The Benefits of an Uncluttered Desk

A tidy and organised desk and workspace is not only looks great, it’s also key to reducing stress and could help you to spend less time at your desk each day.

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Clutter has been shown to increase cortisol (stress) levels – having a messy environment can really impact how we feel.

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A tidy desk can improve your productivity as clear desks have been proven to improve your ability to focus – your brain processes things more quickly if it has fewer distractions.

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If you feel overwhelmed by clutter on your desk you are more likely to procrastinate as it’s more difficult to quickly find the things you need so tidying up can also improve your efficiency at work.

The following tips for creating a clutter free and organised workspace will work equally well in a corporate office space or a home office. The key thing is to set aside time to get organised (either all in one go in a regular slots over a couple of weeks). If you’ve avoided giving this a go in the past as you haven’t know where to start or it’s felt too overwhelming the following steps really will make a difference.

Visualise Your Ideal Lifestyle

The first step with all KonMari tidying is to take 15 minutes to visualise your ideal lifestyle, in this case you’ll need to think about what your ideal work life looks and feels like.

Joy At Work a desk that Sparks Joy

How do you want the office space to look and feel?

What do you do at your desk each day, how are you currently using the space?

What are the important things that you need to focus on?

What within your environment is currently getting in the way?

Jotting this down on paper or having it in your mind will help to focus you on what you need to have around your desk and will help you to make decisions about what stays and goes as you declutter.

If you’ve organised your work area before you may have done it by tidying your desktop, shelves, drawers. As a KonMari Consultant I encourage clients to tidy up by Category rather than location.

  • Categories are groups of similar items such as office stationery, digital devices, product samples, craft materials, papers, books.

  • I recommend reviewing one category at a time, for example get all your stationery out and group it in to similar objects.

  • When you gather all the similar items from one category together from the places around your office you’ll have a real understanding of the volume and duplication of similar things. It really is amazing how many pens, redundant chargers or outdated documents people find once they empty everything out

Time to declutter your desk

Now it’s time to declutter but rather than looking for things to get rid of the KonMari Method is all about making positive choices about the things to keep. In a work environment I recommend you keep:

  1. Items that bring you ‘joy’ – these are the everyday items that make you days more enjoyable like a pen you enjoy writing with, your favourite mug, a family photo, work you are particularly proud of.

  2. Things that are functional and enable you to do your job well (reference documents, stationary, your desk!) - having these items to hand enable you to your job efficiently

This handy KonMari Stationery Checklist may be useful to guide you through the categories.

Stationery KonMari Checklist from A Life More Organised

Make sure you are intentional about the what you choose to keep, for example, think carefully about which books or papers – ask yourself whether the information is up to date, do you a printed copy or can it be printed off when it’s needed.

How To Organise The Storage In Your Workspace

Once you’ve decluttered it’s time to Organise your workspace. The key thing to remember is that your desk is a work (not storage) surface! You’ll need space to get your work done so keep as little on the top of your desk as possible.

  1. You don’t need to have everything out all the time! Think about what you access or use regularly and store these things close to hand.

  2. Only get out the paperwork that you need to work on at that point in time – keeping your work area as clear as possible will help you focus.

  3. Store similar items together and find them a home. Use boxes or baskets to contain similar items, this stops things from getting muddled and you’ll know where to find them when you need them (and where to return them to once you’re finished using them). It will also manage the influx of new things – once the container is full it’s time for another purge

  4. Try keeping stationery, staplers etc together in a box rather than scattered around the room.

When deciding where to store things in an office I use the following principles to make every day work life easier:

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Store current and pending work close to hand in files and folders close to your desk.

Anything that you need to refer to once or twice a week should be stored on easy to reach units or shelving.

Items that you need to keep but use less frequently can be kept in ‘deep storage’ – for example on higher shelves or in cupboards.

Always keep work and personal things separate in your workspace

Top Tips for working from home during lockdown

Ideally you’ll be able to keep your home “office” separate to your living space but if that’s not possible the following tips will help:

  1. Choose a low traffic area such as a dining room where you can shut a door if possible. If not, find a table or desk to sit at and let other people (plus the dog/cat/parrot) know when you have important calls or video conferences.

  2. If you don’t have a dedicated “office” space pack your laptop and documents away in your work bag at the end of each day, this will keep your home free of work reminders in the evening.

  3. If you have a lot of paperwork use magazine or A4 files to store your documents – keeping them safe from being ‘tidied’ away by someone else and reducing the paper clutter in the house.

Digital Workspace

Once you’ve tidied your office it’s also worth considering how organised your digital workspace is. A digital declutter is always a good idea to make sure that you are only storing the most recent and relevant versions of different documents. Avoid allowing your homescreen to become cluttered up with random files and create folders for storing documents by type of work, project or client.

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I’m Sue Spencer, a Professional Organiser and KonMari Consultant trained by Marie Kondo. I'm based in Winchester and work remotely or in-person to help busy decision-makers declutter, organise and simplify their homes or offices so they can get on with the important job of enjoying life. For a no-obligation chat about how I can help, please get in touch at

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I'm always happy to talk about all things decluttering & organising - if you'd like to have a chat you can contact me here.

m: 07740 782575



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Sue Spencer KonMari Consultant
KonMari Master Consultant Badge

Hi, I'm Sue!

I love all things decluttering and home organisation and trained with Marie Kondo to be a KonMari Consultant after experiencing the benefits of tidying my own home using the KonMari Method.

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