Desk clutter can be the bane of your existence if not properly addressed. Stacks of paper can measure in reams instead of sheets and the space where a keyboard should rest instead becomes a landing place for a wallet, phone, keys, receipts, loose change, headphones and anything else that happens to make its way there. Whether your office is a shared commercial space or an intimate home workspace, productivity is key and you don’t want to detract from it. Even a light change of scenery or a few new desktop organizers can work wonders for your productivity. For an expert opinion on how to craft an optimized workspace, we spoke with Will Saks, an in-house interior designer at the New York City office of Homepolish.
- Take inventory and discard clutter. When setting out to optimize your office space, Saks says the best place to start is to see what you need and what you don’t. “One of the most important things is take inventory and see how you can organize that.” Maybe those 23 pens on your desk can be cut down to two or three, and you can probably get rid of your lunch receipts from two months ago. If you have superfluous items that have accumulated in your workspace, put them away. Saks says that having unnecessary items on your desk detracts from your ability to get work done: “If there’s a lot of clutter and a lot of mess, it’s difficult to focus and get down to the task at hand.”
Make sure that everything has a home. Once you have your items narrowed down to what you need, Saks says it “is important for things to have homes to kind of rest in.” These homes can take the form of desktop organizers like trays, cups and folder holders. Saks recommends Poppin, which offers a range of organizational products that can also bring some nice design elements to your workspace. For your cellphone or tablet, Elago and Belkin makes a host of stands and charging docks to keep your phone out of the way, charged and still within arm’s reach. “Just places where you can put stuff away to keep it nice and organized are super important. It is much easier to work in a clutter-free zone than it is to work at a desk that is covered in papers and pens and things like that,” says Saks.
Surround yourself with good lighting. “Natural lighting obviously is the best so if you can position your desk by a window its always nicer,” says Saks. But for many of us, relocating a desk isn’t an option. Even if your office has no natural light, it is important to keep your space well-lit. Overhead fluorescent bulbs can be draining and are less than ideal, but there are solutions. Saks recommends getting a task light to help stay productive. “I think that good lighting helps productivity,” he says. “You don’t want to be sitting in a dark space and working, so using task lamps or table lamps on your desk can help.” They’ll add design elements to your desk and depending on your choice of bulb, can even mimic natural light hues.
Have a place you can go for a change of scenery. Life in an office requires extended periods of time seated and your chair “is a place that you don’t want to skimp on money,” says Saks. “You are sitting there for a long period time, so you need to have something that ergonomically supports you.” But he puts just as much emphasis on getting out of your chair. “It’s important to step away from your desk. So in a home office if you can fit a chair or a couch, it’s nice to be able to take your computer and go read an email just to get out of the feeling of being tied to a desk.” Not only is it healthy to get up and move around every once in while, it also can help you to get more work done and refocus at times when you are fading. “If you are able to get a little break and do work in a different environment in the same space, I think it helps to pump up your energy,” says Saks.
Personalize your space. “I am a fan of an organized workspace, but I think that it is also important to personalize as well, without your space feeling cluttered,” says Saks. “Little touches that can make your space your own without driving your neighbor crazy are super beneficial.” He recommends doing this by adding a plant, your own lamp, a photograph or anything that acts as motivation. “I think it is important to surround yourself with things that inspire you. If you are inspired by your work space then you are going to work better in it.”