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Clean Your Desk Day: How To Stay Organized At Work

01/13/2014 01:42 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:56 EST
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Businesswoman throwing a crumpled piece of paper

It's only the second full week of 2014, and that desk you cleaned up before the holidays is already an absolute pigsty. That's probably why Jan. 13 has been designated National Clean Your Desk Day, providing an excuse — nay, an opportunity — to get yourself cleaned up and ready to face at least this work week.

Messy desks are often associated with disorganization, thereby giving others around you the impression that you may not have your work (or life) under control. But recently, there's been some debate as to the benefits of clutter. One study in the U.S. found that those who worked in mess were more inclined toward originality and creative thinking, the New York Times reported.

So does that mean you're off the hook when it comes to tidying up? Definitely not, according to that same study. A clean desk helps with following the rules, being generous and eating healthfully, according to the Association for Psychological Science. So unless your job — at work or at home — requires only creative brilliance and no rule-following at all, it's best to get things under control.

Check out these expert tips on how to get your desk organized easily — and make sure it at least somewhat stays that way:

How To Keep Your Desk Organized

Create A Clear Space

While many of us work on our computers, it's important to have one space free of clutter on the desk for other kinds of work, notes Technorati. Make it a priority to keep this area clean.

Put Away The Supplies

Are you really using that stapler every hour? How about that pencil sharpener? If it's not a supply you're using constantly, put it in a convenient desk drawer. Lifehacker suggests using the "breadbox" rule, i.e. if it's smaller than a breadbox, put it away.

Get On Top Of The Paper

It is so easy to allow for piles like this to build up on your desk. Monica Friel, president of the organizing service Chaos To Order, suggests opening mail near a garbage can, recycling bin or shredder and tossing it as soon as possible.

Keep Cleaning Supplies Around

You know how after you clean your house, you're always a little more careful with the sink splashes and sweeping for a few days after? Just think, if you kept a dust cleaning spray and screen wipe nearby, you'd feel the same way about your desk.

Stop The Cord Madness

Whether it's for your lamps, computer or cellphone charger, it's easier to let cords overrun your workspace and make you feel disorganized in the process. There are a ton of gadgets out there to keep you organized, but even a simple twist tie can make a difference.

Stop Eating At Your Desk

You know what creates mess? Wrappers from sandwiches, crumbs from cookies and various other food-associated items. Stop eating at your desk, and you'll find the mess lessens — and hey, it's a good idea to take a break anyway.

And While You're At It, Stop Drinking So Much

It's incredibly easy to let mugs pile up on your desk, but that's exactly how water gets spilled all over your notes for an upcoming meeting, notes Technorati. And of course, it's also how you end up with 14 cups on your desk at the end of the week.

You Need Two Pens

Seriously, why do you still have a pencil holder full of highlighters, Sharpies and pencils (when was the last time you used a pencil?!?)? You probably only need two pens on your desk, so get ruthless and toss the rest.

View Your Desk As A Task Manager

This is a larger chore to be sure, but if you can prioritize your workspace according to what you use most and least, that goes a long way toward staying neat. Think about your daily tasks and how your desk reflects those. Do you really need all those books lined up?

Take Post-Its Digital

Post-Its can be a useful tool for reminding you of tasks, but they also create a ridiculous-looking mess that can impact you more than you realize. Get in the habit of making to-do lists on your phone for more streamlined, neater organization.

Keep The Personal To A Minimum

It's nice to be able to look at your family while at work, but it's easy to let the personal items and knickknacks build up quickly. Stick to just one picture frame — and that's it.

Do It Daily — OK, Fine, Weekly

Carve out time in your schedule at the end of the day (or the end of the week, if daily feels like too much) to clean up your desk with these tips. Remember it can help you start the next day feeling more organized and less stressed, so you're really just doing yourself a favour.