9 tips work desk.jpg

Photography: Tan Wei Te, Styling: Alice Chua

#1 Put your computer at the centre
This allows you to reach either side of your desk easily. Everything you use frequently, like your phone, should be within an arm’s reach. Don’t tilt the screen at an angle – instead, adjust the height of your seat so your computer is at eye level.

#2 Put your phone on the left…
… if you’re right-handed, and vice-versa. This makes it easier to take notes during a call as your non-dominant hand will automatically reach for the phone. Make sure that pen and paper – plus calendar and organiser – are on the other side, within easy reach of your dominant hand when you get a call.

#3 Make space
Keep at least 60 per cent of your work surface bare. This means only keeping things you use regularly on your desk, such as your computer, phone, stationery and files. Other things, like reference materials, should be organised in separate shelving.

#4 No messy wires
Opt for wireless appliances. If this is not possible, untangle your wires and keep them hidden – either by taping them flat against the wall or wrapping them with cord organisers.

#5 Get a trash can
Don’t let unnecessary papers, wrappers and rubbish clutter up your desk just because you’re too lazy to walk to the common bin. Keep one near you so you can dispose of rubbish before it piles up.

#6 Organise your papers
All your paperwork should be in one place. Set up a system, either with a step file sorter or box files. To help you prioritise, divide these into sections, such as Urgent, Pending, File, Read and Refer. Sort and review what’s in your files regularly, preferably at the end of every work week.

#7 Some personal stuff is okay
Use a corkboard to pin up things that inspire you – pictures of your puppy or postcards from your travels. Avoid having too many photo frames and trinkets all over your desk – they take up unnecessary space and the clutter can be distracting.

#8 Pare down your stationery
All you really need on your desk are pens, pencils, clips, a stapler and a pair of scissors. Everything else – including that cute pen that someone gave you but you never use – can go into your drawer.

#9 Ditch the post-its
Jotting down every little thing on post-its can create an untidy buildup around your workspace. Use them only for urgent reminders. Write other notes and messages in a notebook that’s placed near your phone.

Expert advice provided in part by Laurel Grey, director of Happily Organized, a professional organising service.

This story was first published in Her World Magazine November 2012. 

Starting your first day at a new job? Here are 6 tips on how to survive your first day!