Stock your desk with these essential tools and supplies to make working simpler and easier!
Your Favorite Writing Instrument
Do you have a favorite pen, pencil, or fountain pen? Make a home for it on your desk. Always put it back in its home when you’re done with it, and it’ll never get lost! (Pro tip: that’s true with all of your belongings.)
Keeping track of one pen or pencil is easier than keeping track of a bunch. That’s the secret of minimalism and sustainability! Living simply with fewer possessions lets you have favorites, and choose higher-quality things that will last longer.
I love a good rollerball pen like these from Uni-Ball! Or, if you want to totally splurge on your one-and-only work pen, Montblancs exist, too.
It usually makes sense to put your printer/scanner on the dominant hand side of the desk. It’s easier to operate that way and if you have it just in reach, you still have space for project items in front of you. It’s okay to place it slightly out of reach so that it gives you a break from sitting.
A good arrangement for your desk not only makes work easier and more enjoyable, it makes it better for your body! Don’t let pain and discomfort distract you from your work.
The New York Times article7 Things You Need for an Ergonomically Correct Workstationhas this to say about an ergonomic setup. When you’re using your keyboard, “your arms and wrists would be in a neutral position: parallel to the floor or angled down toward your lap to reduce strain.” Test it out at your desk! If your arms aren’t parallel for angled downward, you can raise your sitting position, or lower your keyboard using a pull-out shelf.
For your monitor, make sure “your eye level is about 2 to 3 inches below the top of the screen and about an arm’s length away.” That will help keep your neck straight and avoid a lot of backaches!
There is also always, of course, the super extra option. Ergodox makes seriously cool, seriously fun-to-use keyboards that can be configured in tons of ways, including raising the keyboard up and down depending on where you’re using it.
Have a Clear Space in Front of You
Keep a space in front of you clear from distractions or extra clutter. That gives you space to create, and a place to put materials relating to the task at hand. If you’re working digitally on several projects, consider using different desktop views for different projects.
For instructions on working with Mac spaces, click here!
For instructions on working with Windows virtual desktops, click here!
Paperwork can be a dry subject (literally and figuratively!), so while I relay my expert tips for keeping paperwork under control, please also enjoy these very cute images of cats in business attire. Let’s go!
The best way to manage paperwork is to make sure there’s never paperwork in the first place. Your bank statements, utility bills, and other recurring payments often have the option of digital delivery instead of paper. It’s eco-friendly, and it takes no physical space on your desk!
Make sure that you download statements and other documents that you might need to refer to later. Your utility provider may clear old documents on their schedule instead of yours.
Use RAFTS to Sort
The first step toward fully organized paperwork is to sort. When we are clearing someone’s desk, we use the RAFTS system: Recycle, Action, File, Trash/Treasure, and Shred.
Recycle any paperwork you no longer need that doesn’t contain sensitive information can be recycled. This includes things like advertisements, takeout menus, old Post-it notes, or junk mail.
Action items are anything that needs your attention, like a bill to pay or a letter to reply to, or phone calls to return.
File paperwork that contains things you will need later. Statements, school records, and policy documents fit into this category.
Trash/Treasure: Go through your paperwork and decide what’s worth keeping, and what’s worth letting go. Any paperwork with grease or other food on it can go. As for treasure, you can store holiday cards from family in a keepsake box. If you’re holding on to something you can’t remember receiving, consider recycling or trashing it to minimize clutter.
Shred anything with account numbers, social security numbers, or other non-public information that you no longer need. You don’t have to shred items with your name and address because that’s public information.
Whether your desk is at the office or at the home office, it’s a place where productivity is key. But if your desk (like many desks) holds too much paperwork, how the heck do you get anything done?
Over the next four weeks, I’ll show you my expert tips for turning your desk from cluttered to calm. That way you can focus and do your best work! Let’s start with paperwork.
There are three major traps that people fall into when it comes to their desk. Do any of these sound like you?
Trap 1: Wanting everything at hand.
While a Homer-Simpson-esque desk setup where all the buttons and knobs are within arm’s reach sounds nice, it’s actually very good for you to have to get up to get things. According to the University of Michigan Human Resources, you should get up and move around “approximately three minutes every 30 – 60 minutes.” If your printer is a few steps away, turn printing into a mini-break and get your body moving.
It’s also good to have some room around you! You can stretch out and actually do things with your desk. If you have everything you could possibly need on your desk at once, where do you put your coffee?
We’ve talked about files, but what about organizing software? Don’t let your apps run wild, they need structure, too! Here are my methods for keeping your software easy to find, use, and keep track of.
Do them! Keeping your software up to date is important for three reasons:
Security: Software companies are always on the lookout for new ways to break their programs, and then change to make their systems less vulnerable. Security updates are extremely common, and updating on time means you’re as safe as possible.
Features: The latest stuff is always cooler, right? Don’t miss out on upgraded or more user-friendly features.
Complying with regulations: Just like with safety, software companies are on the lookout for new laws or policy changes that affect how their programs function. If you work in the healthcare industry, and your software isn’t up to date on the latest HIPAA regulations, you could be in some serious trouble!
Keep a Master List
If your computer goes kaput, the last thing you want to have to do is rebuild it from nothing. It’s the same when you purchase a new computer. Trying to remember what software your old computer had installed is brain-frying! This is where a master list comes in handy.
I love certain things for organizing physical items: clear stackable bins, shelving, and labels are tools that apply in just about every situation! It’s the same with digital organizing. There are some simply-must-have tools for digital organizing that I recommend anyone use to keep their computer neat and tidy.
A Password Manager
I can’t remember all of my passwords, can you? Making secure passwords requires capital letters, numbers, special characters, and sometimes a double-authentication PIN, too. And the amount of passwords we need—one for every site—means that trying to remember them is not only exhausting, it’s basically impossible. And what about when it’s time to update the password? A sticky note just can’t take care of it like it used to.