Workplace Basics: Organizing Your Desk

Lesson 4: Organizing Your Desk



By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Recognize why it's important to remain organized
  • Identify ways to become more organized in the workplace

Why it's important to organize your workspace

There are several benefits to organizing your workspace.

  • Improved time management.
    Taking the time to get organized can save you time in the long run. Constantly working around clutter can seriously impede your productivity. Great time managers set up and organize their workspaces to cut down on the amount of time necessary for each task.
  • Quickly locate important items.
    Has your boss ever asked you for an important document that you were unable to locate? Organizing your workspace will spare you embarrassment and frustration.
  • Remember important tasks.
    The common phrase "out of sight, out of mind" is largely true. Visual cues can help you remember and prioritize important tasks. For example, a clean and orderly desk can help you deal with one task at a time.
  • Maintain a professional appearance.
    Your dress, demeanor, and workspace are a representation of you and your employer. Minimal clutter conveys professionalism.
  • Focus on workplace goals.
    An orderly workspace can help you fine-tune and accomplish your daily goals, thereby helping you achieve your long-term professional goals.

Organizing your workspace

Getting organized is the first step toward remaining organized. Whether you are starting a new job or desperately want to organize your current workspace, consider the following tips.

  • Examine how your workspace is used.
    List the job duties you perform here (depending on your job, some may be performed elsewhere), and number them in order of importance.
  • Group similar objects together.
    Put like items in piles on the floor where you can easily see them before determining their final location. Make another pile for anything that's unrelated to your job duties.
  • Group and separate items associated with each job duty.
    Group together books, materials, and supplies associated with a certain task. This strategy may not work if you perform several similar duties.
  • Throw unnecessary items in the trash.
    As you're grouping and separating items, ask yourself, "Do I need to keep this? If so, how often do I use this? If not, why?"

Your job duties and professional goals should dictate how your workspace is organized.

Putting it away

Now that you've taken the time to sort through your stuff, you should figure out how to arrange it in a way that will help you perform your duties efficiently.

  • Avoid unnecessary movement by storing often-used items at close range or at eye level.
  • If appropriate, establish separate stations where you work on one specific job duty.
  • Post important reminders at eye level.
  • Limit your desktop to items you use daily.
  • Put books and manuals on a bookshelf. Keep those you use daily within reach.
  • Keep decorative items to a minimum. Check your employer's policy before bringing personal or decorative objects to work.
  • Put items you only use a few times a year in a deep storage area. Make sure they're properly labeled first.

Organizational tools

There are several office supplies that can help you organize your workspace.


  • Alphabetize your folders so you can locate files quickly.
  • Use hanging files to help keep your file drawer neat.
  • Use colored folders to give visual cues as to the contents of each folder.
  • Use file folder labels so you can recycle folders when necessary.


  • There are many different types of drawer organizers to help you organize the contents of your drawer.
  • Plastic bins, baskets, and boxes (available in a different sizes) can help you organize larger items.
  • Paper trays are useful for managing paper. Consider creating an inbox for items that need to be dealt with and an outbox for items that need to be filed.
  • Coffee cups are useful for holding pens and pencils.


  • Your trashcan is a valuable organizational tool, provided it's used correctly. Throw away unnecessary items daily.
  • If you are unsure whether an item should be thrown away, create a recycling bin. Use a small box to store items you're not sure you should throw away. Clearly label it so it won't end up in the trash. Empty it regularly.

  • How to Organize Your Desk: A useful article from WikiHow
  • Book: Getting Organized at Work by Dawn B. Sova
  • Book: Good Things for Organizing by Martha Stewart