Maximizing Your Desk and Office

Jon Fesmire |

Do you ever feel like you could be getting more done at work? Do you sometimes procrastinate or get distracted?

These tips on maximizing your desk and office— whether at home or at the workplace—can help. This doesn’t just mean decluttering and cleaning, though that’s part of it. To maximize your office space means to improve your ability to work well while also reducing distractions and stress.

Minimize to Maximize

When you first settle in to organize your office, you may find that there’s a lot to get done. Since we’ve gone into detail elsewhere on things like how to sort out your paper clutter, we’ll simply tackle the basics here.

Go into your desk and office maximizing project with this in mind: you must minimize to maximize. Sort through your desk (including everything on top), your cabinets, and your shelves, and put into boxes anything you don’t use for work. Set the boxes aside, and organize what you have. Make sure things you need often are in easy reach on a nearby shelf, on your desk, or in a drawer. Other things you need for work but don’t use frequently, such as instruction books, can go on other shelves where they’re available, but not right there in your immediate work zone.

Decorate, Don’t Overdecorate

Don’t remove those boxes from your office just yet. You’ll do that later, and you can decide what to do with all that stuff, whether you decide to bring it back home (or put it elsewhere in your house), put some of it in storage, or give old items away.

A maximized office doesn’t need to be spartan. One important reason for getting rid of things you don’t need is to remove distractions. Clutter tends to draw one’s focus and impede productivity. However, having a few decorations or personal items can bring a sense of contentment that can make you even more productive.

So, put some up. Have a photo or two of your loved ones on your desk or the wall. Add a piece of art or, if you’re into it, even an inspirational poster. Set a few of your favorite figurines, or a doll, on a nearby shelf. Personalize your space, in other words. Just don’t overdo it, or you’ll go back into distraction territory.

Perfect Your Digital Desktop

We’ve covered how to organize your desk and desktop in detail in our article on decluttering your desk.

Yet most of the work we do these days is on our computers, and our central workspace is our computer’s digital desktop. This virtual space can become just as cluttered as any physical desk unless you make a conscious effort to streamline it.

Before you even look at your computer desktop, take out a pen and piece of paper and write down what programs you work with most. This will include your web browser of choice and may include certain Microsoft Office or similar programs. Perhaps it’s an art program or two, like Photoshop, a CAD program if you’re in manufacturing, an employee database if you work in HR, or any other number of specialized programs.

Next, boot up your computer and check out what you have on the desktop. Create a folder called “Extras” and put anything except for the essential programs you use all the time in it. You can also remove unneeded programs from your taskbar, whether you use Windows, macOS, or some flavor of Linux or Unix.

Finally, go into your web browser bookmarks. Create a new bookmark folder (the method will vary depending on the browser you use, and you can find instructions via a Google search) and put non-work-related bookmarks in it, so that your main bookmark bar or menu will have only work-related links. You’ll find all this makes it much easier to access the program or link you need for your job without distraction.

Watch Your Health

Sitting at a desk and typing all day can be detrimental to your health. If you hold your hands the wrong way, you can develop carpal tunnel syndrome in your wrists. If you slouch, you can develop neck and back pain. Stare at the screen too long, and you’ll end up with eye strain.

Make your setup as ergonomic as possible. When typing, your upper arms comfortably angled out slightly at your sides, you should be able to type with your forearms parallel to the floor. Get an office chair that allows you to adjust the height, lean back when you need to think for a moment, and that makes it easy to sit up straight.

Yes, however ergonomic your setup is, it’s important for you to use it correctly, so don’t slouch! If you catch yourself doing so, straighten your back. If you’re not used to this, it may take some adjustment, but ijn time it will begin to feel natural.

About once an hour, get up and walk around for a few minutes. Do a few stretches at your desk. This will help keep you from getting stiff and will get your heart pumping a bit. Also, look off into the distance to prevent developing eye strain.

All these steps will maximize your productivity in such a way that you’ll actually feel less stressed and enjoy work more. We hope you enjoy your new, streamlined office setup.