Once they have gotten rid of piles of paper and rediscovered the tops of their desks, clients often ask me what is the best way to set up their desk areas.
Sit down at your desk and spread out your arms in all directions. Any part of your desk that is at your fingertips is what I refer to as “prime real estate”. Prime real estate should be reserved for those items that you use constantly.
Make a list of the major activities you do at your desk, and list the supplies that you need. Make sure that you have all of those supplies within your prime real estate.
Keep your desktop free of anything that doesn’t need to be there. Photographs should be put on shelves or a credenza, not on the desk itself. Ditto with whimsical items, knick knacks, or souvenirs.
If there are papers that you access frequently, set up a vertical file folder on top of your desk.
If you do writing or bill paying at your desk, then you need a pen and pencil jar. Resist the urge to put EVERY writing implement you own into it. Instead, just add one or two of each type of implement you actually use, and keep the rest of them in your desk.
Do you open mail at your desk? If so, then add a letter opener to your pen jar. I also suggest you stand up a scissors in your pen jar so that you always have one handy.
If you create mail at your desk, you’ll need a place for stamps, envelopes, and return address labels. Keep these in the top drawer of your desk, or in a vertical file folder.
Put a small pad of paper on your desk for jotting down quick notes or phone messages. If you prefer Post-its®, consider a pop-up note dispenser. Keep the refills inside the desk.
Do you use tape, staples, or paper clips every time you sit at your desk? If so, then arrange the tape dispenser, stapler, and a small paper clip holder in a neat row along the back of your desk so that they are easy to reach but not in the way. If you don’t use them frequently, then put them in the top drawer of your desk.
Any frequently used item that is too bulky or too unattractive to live on your desk (or too personal, such as your checkbook) should be in the most easily reached drawers of your desk. Items that aren’t used frequently can be stored in the areas that you can’t reach without standing up or walking.