5 Things You Can Do To Declutter Your Workspace

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With a new work year kicking off, it's a great time to reorganise your office and declutter so you can kick things off with maximum productivity and begin the year with a clean slate. Here are five things you can do to declutter your workspace.

#1 Start With A Clear Space

Step one is to take everything off the desk - your computer, storage gear, cables, tissue boxes. Get the space totally clear. Then, wipe it down so it's clean. For you to start with a clean slate it needs to be, well, clean.

While you're at it, clean you screen and give your keyboard a gently shake to get last year's dust and crumbs out.

#2 Sort Through What Was On Your Desk

Look at all the stuff that came off your desk and sort it into three groups. One group is the gear that you have to have on your desk - things that you absolutely must have to do your work.

The second group is the stuff you absolutely don't need on your desk. This is all the bits and pieces of clutter that made their way to your desk but just got shoved aside or push into a corner. Put that in a box, bin or somewhere where it can't come back to haunt you.

The third group is gear you need some of the time but doesn't need to be directly to hand all the time. For example, I like to keep a portable hard drive, pocket knife, small screw drivers, hex keys and some office stuff like a ruler and USB cables handy. For those, there needs to be a dedicated place for them to be stored that's out of the way but close by.

#3 Organise Thing Based On What's Most Important

When you start to put things back on your desk focus on what you use the most. I imagine that, for there majority of us, that's the computer. In my case, I have a 24-inch screen connected to my laptop through a docking station that lets me keep my other essential computer accessories connected. That includes an external hard drive for backups and my media library, speakers and my scanner.

So, my display, keyboard and trackpad are at the centre of my desk with everything else tucked away at the back. The laptop is there but to the side as it has a smaller display.

The second most important thing on my desk is a USB charging station that I use to keep my tablet, smartphone and smartwatch juiced up as well as a space mini-USB cable for other peripherals.

#4 What To Do With Category Two

Finding a place for the things that you want at your desk but not in the way can be tricky. One of the handy things I found was a small set of drawers from Officeworks that are just the right height to sit my laptop on and keep clutter off my desk while not putting things I use occasionally out of reach.

I also have a pair of stackable paper trays. As well as giving me a place to store papers as they come into my desk, they are just the right width for me to sit my desktop scanner - a ScanSanp S1300i. By having the scanner close to the papers, I have a prompt to do my filing so I can stick to my goal of retaining an almost paperless office.

Image: Anthony Caruana/Lifehacker

My one concession to a non-work-related item on my desk is my levitating Death Star speaker. It was a gift and I use it for listening to podcasts and the occasional tune at my desk. To be honest, the sound quality insult the greatest but it's good enough for my needs and it has a bunch of cool value.

It also means a space where clutter could gather is filled by something useful and fun.

I have kept one small area of my workspace - it's an IKEA Linnmon/Adils corner combination so I really don't have a lot of free desk space - to one side for bits and pieces that I know will come and go like review products and magazines.

Image: Anthony Caruana/Lifehacker

#5 Have A Plan For Staying Tidy

Most of us are great at cleaning the workspace up but having a plan is important for keeping things clutter free.

Simple things like have a bin for rubbish and somewhere for recycling close by is helpful. And I have a system for scanning pretty much every piece of paper that comes in and shredding documents so the clutter of paper doesn't accumulate.

It also takes a bit of discipline to ensure you don't add anything new to the environment just because it looks cool. If you add something and, after a week or so, get bored with it - ditch it. Be ruthless.

Keeping your work area tidy helps with productivity as you can find things faster and don't have to clear the space just to get started. And, at least for me, having a clear space helps me get to concentrating faster and reduces the distractions when I'm working.

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