Skip to content
Join Life Time
a well organized home office desk

Bills to pay. Receipts to file. Appointment reminders, report cards, grocery lists. If there’s a vaguely important piece of paper in the house, the home-office desk draws stuff to it with the force of a rip tide. And even with the mostly digital nature of office work, the biggest desk can still feel too small for active paper files and office supplies.

Why Decluttering Matters

The home-office desk serves as a de facto to-do list for our lives, so it feels especially overwhelming when it’s a mess. If we also work from home, that feeling may be compounded. A recent study from DePaul University found office clutter predicts emotional exhaustion and stress.

On the flip side, its centrality means that decluttering the desk can be especially rewarding. “In feng shui, the desk represents your vocational path,” says Laura Benko, author of The Holistic Home: Feng Shui for Mind, Body, Spirit, Space. “From an energetic point of view, you want to give yourself a boost wherever you can.”

How to Declutter

Experts recommend starting with a clean slate. Take everything off your desk for a week and place it nearby. During that week, identify the items you used daily. Anything you didn’t use gets a new home on a nearby shelf or in a drawer.

When you’re choosing what to keep, respect your natural work tendencies. If you’re a paper person, there’s no need to force yourself to go completely digital, says residential organizer Katie Tracy, author of Behind the Closed Door: The Mental Stress of Physical Stuff. Simply create filing systems that reflect the action-oriented nature of your paper.

“When we think about categories of paper, our tendency is to put a noun to them: These are my bills, these are my appointments,” she notes. “Think instead in verbs. What action do I have to take? So, ‘bills’ becomes ‘to pay.’ Messages and follow-up reminders become ‘to call.’ That way, you’re grouping the same types of actions together.”

Another way to cut down on visual clutter: Keep track of to-do items on your calendar instead of posting reminders around your desk. “Sometimes you don’t have time to wrap your head around a complex topic such as home insurance and go down all the paths of inquiry and consideration,” says feng shui and decluttering expert Andrea Gerasimo.

“But you can schedule a time to deal with it later so you can quiet your mind and attend to the things you need to do now.”

As you develop the systems that work best for you, consistency is key. “Once a week, reset,” suggests Tracy. Take a few minutes at the end of each week to put your desk back in order. And if the piles do return, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just clear everything off again and start fresh.

How to Defend With Beauty

Placing a houseplant or a small statue on your desk not only discourages clutter; it gives your eye something pleasant to land on while you’re working, suggests Gerasimo. “This gives your desk visual structure and creates more mental ease.”

Decluttering Inspiration

Clutter affects our mental and physical well-being. Check out “4 Easy Decluttering Projects” to discover three more high-impact areas to declutter.

Jill Patton, FMCHC

Jill Patton, FMCHC, is a Minneapolis-based health writer and functional-medicine certified health coach.

Thoughts to share?

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


More Like This

a woman stands at her desk stretching her quad

Create a Healthy Work Space With These Desk-Worthy Goods

By Experience Life Staff

Make your office space better for your body.

Back To Top