As you step into college, you’ll be working from home more often. And as of March 2021, I am studying from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that I’m in front of my desk for much longer than I’ve ever been before.
Working at your own desk is a very different experience from actually going to school. It’s much easier to get distracted, whether it’s by your phone or something else going on at home.
Although there are many more elements to being focused and productive at home, organizing and setting up your desk properly plays a major role.
In this post, I’ll teach you the 7 crucial steps to organizing your desk for maximum productivity whenever you work and study, so you can be super successful even while working from home.
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Step 1. Do you need a new desk?
First, determine if you need a new desk to start with. A sturdy, high-quality, ergonomic desk is good for your physical health (posture-wise) and a long-term investment that’s highly worth the money.
If your current desk matches multiple of the following, you may need to consider getting a new one:
- Wobbly and unbalanced
- Unable to support itself (held together by tape)
- Too low or too high, causing bad posture
- Too small, with not enough space for your work
If you do not have the financial ability (or physical space in your room) to get a new desk, you can try moving things around, adding some support/height, etc. to your current desk. In addition, the rest of the tips may be able to help you transform your desk as well.
But if you are interested in getting a new desk, I’ve listed some recommendations below. They’re not in any particular order and are all great desks (though the price varies).
- LINNMON / ALEX Table from IKEA
- MICKE Desk from IKEA
- CubiCubi Study Computer Desk from Amazon
- CubiCubi L Shape Computer Desk from Amazon
- DlandHome L-Shaped Desk from Amazon
Step 2. Remove everything.
Though it’s not impossible to organize your desk without removing everything first, it’s much easier to start with a blank slate. This will also help you determine what you should throw away and what you should keep.
So if you have a bunch of papers, pens, decor, trash, etc. lying around on your desk, remove them and put them somewhere else for now (you’ll either be placing them back, storing them, or throwing them away later).
While you’re doing this, create separate piles or buckets for the following:
- Things you definitely want/need to keep at your desk
- Things you only use once in a while
- Things you can throw away because it’s old, broken, useless…
This may be the hardest step of all these steps, because you may find it difficult to determine which things are actually necessary. So take your time and go through the objects at your desk and ask yourself: do I really need this at my desk?
Once you’ve got this figured out, you’re ready to go onto the next step and really get rolling.
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Step 3. Throw away the useless.
Since you’ve already separated all your objects into categories, this step should be quite simple. Go through the third pile I defined earlier (things you can throw away because it’s old, broken, or useless) and throw away everything you think you should throw away.
This can include broken pens and pencils, old worksheets, random trash, etc. The least things you have on your desk, the better; if it’s useless and/or distracting, you do not need to keep it on your desk.
Your next step is not to organize the other piles yet (the things you’re going to keep). These will come in near the end of your organization. Now, it is time to set up your desk.
Step 4. Set up your desk.
There are two parts to setting up your desk, and I will split this section up so it’s easy for you to follow. The first part is to clean and prep your current setup, and the second part is to “upgrade” it, adding and moving things around.
Prep your desk
There is not much you have to do to prep your desk, other than to give it a thorough cleaning. Get rid of all the dust and glue residue on your desk and it’ll be as good as new!
Grab some wet wipes (alcohol wipes can get rid of glue residue easily) and wipe down your desk. Then, use some paper towels to dry it.
If you plan to move your desk somewhere else, now’s the time to do so. Once you start placing things back onto your desk, it’ll be more difficult to move it around.
Upgrade your desk
Once you’re done cleaning your desk and ready to start putting all your stuff back onto it, look into things that can help you organize everything further. Below, I’ll go over a few of my desk essentials– consider investing in some of these, as they’re good for your physical health and can declutter your desk.
Staring down at your laptop is very bad for your spine in the long run. This laptop stand will help raise your laptop to eye-level and ensure that you’re sitting up tall, instead of slouching over and putting too much strain on your back.
This LED lamp is not only adjustable to reach where you need it to reach, but you can also adjust the brightness and warmness of the light to relieve eye strain during different times of the day.
If you’re a pen hoarder and don’t want to throw away all your different pens, you’re better off organizing them in these organizers. The vertical organizers are perfect for different colored pens and highlighters, while the cups are great for your most-used pens.
If you have a lot of miscellaneous, small items like scissors, gluesticks, erasers, airpods, washi tape, postcards… this organizer is the perfect place to store them. Having multiple drawers means maximizing space and storing upwards instead of across on your desk.
If you don’t have enough space on your desk, you can use these floating shelves to put books and other small objects (like clocks, speakers, headphones…). They’re super easy to install and last for a long time.
If you have a lot of miscellaneous items that are helpful to have around but are in such large amounts that you can’t put them all on your desk, a supplies cart is the perfect place to store them. You can keep this right next to your desk!
Step 5. Organize the essentials.
Now that your desk is all set up and upgraded, you can start organizing the things you want to keep and place them on your desk! There are some essentials that you should always keep near you, while others can be put a little farther away.
Some essentials include:
- Your laptop, keyboard, and mouse
- Your most-used pens and pencils
- Notebooks for school
- A planner, calendar, or to-do lists
- Water, tissues, healthy snacks
Using the space you have and the organizers you have, determine the most space-efficient way to organize these! If you’d like some inspiration, you can visit Pinterest or Instagram and browse through desk setup posts.
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Step 6. Store everything else.
By everything else, I mean the non-essentials, such as the following:
- Gaming consoles
Especially if something is distracting you and causing you to stray from the task at hand, you should remove it from your desk and store it somewhere else (like a bookshelf or closet).
For other items (like things you don’t use often but still find helpful to have around), simply place it somewhere within reach, but not on the surface of your desk.
I find it super helpful to have a bookshelf and/or a rolling supplies cart (which I mentioned earlier) on either side of my desk, for I can store a lot of books, textbooks, extra pens, journals, craft supplies, and more.
Step 7. Organize once in a while.
This step is essential to maintain your desk in the longrun. Once in a while, you’ll find that somehow, all your notebooks and pens have ended up on your desk again. When this happens, you need to place them back where they belong and declutter.
Every 2 weeks (or whenever your desk starts becoming cluttered), take 20-30 minutes to organize your desk and throw away trash that’s starting to pile up.
If you feel like it, you could even have a desk makeover every few weeks along with reorganizing it. This can make you feel like you have a new study space every once in a while, which you might enjoy.
I hope this post was helpful in helping you organize your desk and set yourself up for maximum productivity! If you’re studying from home and need some more tips regarding productivity and studying, check these out: