As a freelancer, you’ve probably got a lot on your plate, from attending online meetings and meeting impending deadlines to submitting new proposals. When you’re not organizing your schedule, you’re updating clients on the status of their projects or preparing invoices.
And let’s be honest: it’s hard—if not impossible—to get any of this done when your desk is a mess.
For most freelancers, it’s essential to have an orderly workspace so we can be productive. In fact, clutter has been shown to affect not only our cognition, decision making, productivity and focus, but also our sleep, emotions, stress and relationships with others.
Still feeling overwhelmed? Keep reading to discover our 14 best desk organization tips to help you overhaul the space you use to get work done.
Creative ways to organize a desk and office space
1. If binder clips, stapler, pens, highlighters, markers, tape, and tacks have taken over your space, it’s time to put them in their place. You can, of course, buy a drawer organizer or drawer dividers; alternatively, consider organizing them on a lazy susan on the desk so all you have to do is spin it to find what you’re looking for and it’s all within arm’s reach. Another alternative is to use a flatware organizer inside the desk drawers to put everything in one place and out of your way.
2. Does your desk look a bit too small? Consider placing a cart or file cabinet next to it instead of under it. This will give you a larger surface area to work with as you can leverage the space on top.
3. Do you have sticky notes and important papers and reminders everywhere? Paper clutter is the worst! How about setting up a bulletin board behind your computer and hanging everything there? That way you can keep everything in sight and turn your clutter into wall decor!
4. You could, of course, go one step further and eliminate all of those pesky little papers by taking your notes online with an app like Evernote, Dropbox or Google Keep.
5. Consider finding dual-purpose equipment that allows you to take advantage of the space you have, like a monitor riser with drawers, or simply extra space below it, or a desk lamp with a pen holder.
6. Free up space on your desk by moving your printer elsewhere: on a separate stand under your desk, on the file organizer beside your desk, or on a pull-out shelf that you mount inside the cabinets under your desk.
7. Take advantage of products with characteristics that allow you to maximize your workspace. For example, opt for a clamp-on desk lamp as opposed to a standard one and use a vertical organizer on your desk to store your supplies.
8. Instead of mounting floating shelves on the wall in your office, add boxes instead, which offer more space as you can store your books and papers either inside or on top of them.
9. Keep your cords and cables out of sight and organized with a chic cord organizer box. Go one step further by labeling the cords, especially if you have a lot of them. That way you’ll know exactly where the problem is if your computer screen unexpectedly goes black or the light goes out.
10. Add a charging station to your workspace so you can charge all of your devices simultaneously and in the same small space.
11. Mount a series of labeled wall pockets to the wall, to your file cabinet or to other office furniture to free up space on your office desk and give you the room you need to work.
The best way to organize your desk at work
So you’re a freelancer but you still go into the office. If you’re not working from home and you’re sharing a workspace (or even desk space) with other people, then these next tips are for you!
12. Use the office scanner to scan documents and store them digitally. This will free up space and clutter on your desk.
13. Keep your desk space in check by doing a “deep clean” once a week: that means throwing out old papers, returning office supplies to where they belong, making sure your folder racks are in order and wiping down your desk with a cloth. Not only will this help you clear off non-essential items, the next day you’ll be welcomed by a clean desk and a fresh start.
14. Try a left-to-right workspace flow: Important items and new and pending projects are on your left, you’re in the middle, and finished projects, papers and items you’re done with are on your right.
The best desk organization tips to enhance productivity
Home office organization (and work office organization) doesn’t have to be daunting and you certainly don’t have to be Marie Kondo or Khloe Kardashian (have you seen her pantry? #organizationgoals) to get your office setup in order.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to splash out lots of cash at the Container Store or go crazy at Target to find the right storage solutions for your home office space. There are plenty of DIY office and desk storage possibilities, from mason jars and pallet shelves to cereal boxes and shoe boxes.
Need to track your work and get it signed off?
Add a file, choose someone to approve it, then start adding comments and suggestions as needed. Once it’s done, the approval is recorded. Job’s done.
All you really need is to roll up your sleeves, get a bit creative, put these awesome organization hacks into practice and commit to decluttering your office desk. In the long run, you’ll be a more productive, efficient, and successful freelancer.