Decluttering my desk/ workspace

So February is supposed to be decluttering several areas of my life. One of the first physical spaces I started with was desk/ workspace. My hope is that with a tidy, clean workspace I will be less distracted and will be able to focus on things again, I find myself so quickly distracted these days.

Benefits I am hoping for:

  • less distractions
  • being able to find things
  • no burden of broken things
  • more motivation/ inspiration
  • getting more/ better work done

I definitely am guilty of piling up things on my desk instead of filing them straight away, or collecting several to- do lists and other pieces of paper, along with several other knick- knacks. Now a workspace or office isn’t the easiest to start with because it includes everything from documents, books to cables and electronics. Generally, documents are tedious to sort through and we often tend to just file them away (if we do at all), using the principle “out of side out of mind”. Books are hard, for me at least, because it feels strange to get rid of some. Then there are the personal items such as photos and letters that find their way into a drawer or another. My workspace is a corner in our living room, but I only tackled my little corner, leaving the living room for later.

First thing I did was take a before photo, not just to show you, but also so I can see the effects for myself. And I really had to force myself to take the picture without tidying or cleaning first, even if I was a bit embarrassed about the things lying around… still not sure how my shoes got into my bookshelf…

I think there can be several benefits from a tidy working/ writing space and if anyone feels like having a go at their space I tried to write my process down.

Step 1: Remove everything from that space

That really means clear out all draws, shelves, storage boxes, take things off the walls, remove everything out of that space and put it somewhere else.

Step 2: Give everything a good clean

Clearing out all the spaces gives you a chance to clean all those hard to reach places that are normally blocked by stuff, you’d be surprised all the places dust and spilled coffee get.

Step 3: Put things back by category, sort out the things you no longer use/ need

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”- William Morris

I find the first to be very true and helpful when it comes to my workspace. I don’t find my stapler or my hole puncher to be beautiful but I find them useful on a daily basis. I sorted everything by considering if I use it regularly, if it has a purpose or if it is broken or no longer of use to me:

  • Things to keep get a designated place that they always go back to their “home”
    • I find it makes sense to put a bit of thought into these homes as they should be practical but also logical so that you automatically put things back when you are done
  • Things that have served their purpose got sorted out:
    • Things to sell (consider if the time and effort is worth it)
    • Things to donate
    • Things to recycle (including electronics)
    • Things to throw away


So office supplies is one of those things we tend to accumulate a lot of, more pens than we actually need, too many highlighters, markers, envelopes etc. I admit I didn’t really feel like I had too much so I kept most of it, but sorted things out like pens that were no longer working … but by going through everything I got a clearer idea of all the things I have and what I don’t need to buy.


Books are the hardest I personally find but for my workspace I have kept the books I still currently need and have sold or donated the ones no longer use. Along with my books I have kept my daily planners from the last two years because they still contain information I need and haven’t transferred anywhere else (but probably could with some time but I enjoy going through them and looking what I was doing a year ago). I have a few non-work-related books next to my desk and went through them and put them in four categories:

  • Books I still use to keep
  • Books I have bought planning to read ‘one-day’ -> donate/ sell
  • My favourite books and books I will read again to keep
  • Books I know I won’t read again

For selling books I find websites the easiest option, you can enter the ISBN number and they tell you how much you would get for the books, you send it to them and voila, books sold.


I finally sorted out my broken laptop and phone I kept for “just in case”. I still don’t know in what circumstances I would have actually needed them. I only have the cables for things where I know to what they belong and that it is something I still use. Out went the printer I no longer use. I have a pen tablet that I bought for drawing, something I hardly ever do, so that is something I am planning to sell. I made a box with all my cables that i still need, rolled up and all together in one place so I know where to find them.

  • Sort out the broken that cannot be fixed for recycling
  • Only keep the cables you use and know to what it belongs
  • Sell/ Donate things you no longer use

Personal items and Photos

I made one box with all my photos in it (in envelopes with dates), I prefer it to photo albums. And I have another box in which to keep letters, concert tickets etc.

The end results of today’s declutter

(and yes the shoes have gone back to the shoe closet)

(For those of you wondering why I now have two lamps on my desk, the second is my daylight lamp because I really struggle with the European winter and lack of sunlight).

Sure there is still a lot I could get rid of, I have three erasers, too many black markers and more file folders than I need to but I feel as though it is a good start and I enjoy working at my desk more, especially with all the space that has opened up. Also there are less decorations and “motivational” postcards distracting me.

If you want to have an more professional, guided approach have a look at Joshua Becker’s The Minimalist Home , he has a step by step approach to all rooms of the house.

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