A cluttered, unorganised desk can sap your energy and make you less productive. To get more out of your workspace, check out the in-depth guide to setting up your desk (including what to put on your desktop and in your desk drawers) from What’s Best Next.
Photo by Tr1sha (Shutterstock)
We’ve covered setting up a healthy, usable, clean and ergonomically optimised workspace before (even if you have little desk space). This series of posts from What’s Best Next is a great basic guide, with writer Matt Perman detailing the method that works best for him.
It covers the basic principles of setting up a functional desk, such as thinking of your desk like a cockpit: The things you use most often should be at your fingertips and only permanent stuff that you regularly need should be stored on your desk or in drawers. Use the P-L-A-C-E system to clean out and organise your stuff: Purge unnecessary items, group Like with like, place groupings according to your Access needs, Contain loose items and Evaluate how well your system works.
In parts four and five of the series, Perman discusses four ways to configure a desk (rectangular, parallel, L-shaped, and U-shaped) and where in the room to place your desk. Unfortunately the images aren’t working any more, but you still get the gist from the article that L- or U-shaped desks are preferable and having the desk perpendicular to the door gives you more control. Of course, your needs and space will be a big factor.
The most interesting tips are in posts six and seven about what to keep on your desktop and in your drawers. Perman advises a left-to-right workflow approach: Put everything (inbox, phone, paper) on the left side and leave the right open.
The workflow goes from left to right. When new input comes, it goes into your inbox on the left. When it’s time to process those items, handle the items in the middle, right in front of you. Any piles that need to be taken somewhere else go on the right side. […] The system is that you kept your desk clear so that it is available in this way when you are working on things. And so when you are done or at a point where you won’t be able to get back to the project for a while, but the reference materials away and the support items back into files, so that the desktop remains clear for whatever is next.
There are a lot of ways you can set up your drawers. One useful way may be to set aside a drawer for each main purpose: temporary storage (wallet and keys when you get to work), office supplies, labeler and other tools, finance/mailing drawer, and file drawer for active and pending files.
Obviously, there’s no one correct way to set up your desk, since we all work differently and use different tools to get things done. If you’re looking for ideas, though, this guide is full of them.
How to Set Up Your Desk [What’s Best Next]