5 Things You Should Do to Unclutter Your Desk (and Your Brain) at the End of the Day

Clearing your desk after finishing your work for the day can feel daunting. It doesn't have to.

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an organized workplace at home and a cluttered workplace. Deadlane and procrastination
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Home and work. Work and home. For many of us, the spaces have become one and the same.

With little delineation between spaces, it makes it even more important to find a way to unclutter your desk at the end of the day, both for visual and mental health purposes. If the task seems overwhelming, you aren't alone.

Luckily, Jessica Litman, professional organizer and founder of The Organized Mama has five tips that will unclutter your desk — and maybe even your mind. These tips can work great whether you go into an office or just have a space at home.

1. Write out all the steps, then erase most

Litman suggests thinking through everything that you want to unclutter before you leave for the day. That includes your desk, inbox, and desktop. Write it out.

Once you have a complete list, go ahead and cross out most of it.

"Don't make it a big thing," she says. "Write down all that you want to change, and then cross off 80 percent of that so you are only changing small things at a time."

Once you've narrowed down that list to a few things, say checking your calendar for the next day, jotting down your to-do list, and filing away your papers, re-write the list for a visual clue to do those things at the end of each day.

2. Set a timer on your phone or calendar

It's easy to skip the uncluttering phase of your day. There is always the next place to run to, the carpool to drive, and on occasion you are just too exhausted to spend another minute at work. That's why uncluttering your desk needs to become a part of your work day.

"Set a reminder on your phone or calendar for a 15-minute time block," she says. "This will cue you to start that uncluttering routine until it eventually becomes a habit."

If you want to go one step further, set special calendar reminders on the first and 15th of the month to add in those occasional tasks like deep cleaning your computer screen or disinfecting your space.

3. Invest in a few strategic organizing items

Litman isn't out to make your desk look like a Pinterest project with rainbow labels, but there are a few organizing items she suggests making your life a little easier.

Her main recommendation: a magazine holder. These are inexpensive ways to organize papers on your desk. Choose the adventure that works best for you (and your space). Get a single holder where you can put all of your papers to review in the morning when you get back to work, or get a few different ones where you can file papers into different categories like contracts, bills, and notes.

4. Unmess your 'desktop'

Sometimes, the stress of the mess comes not just from your desk but the desktop on your computer. Now that so many files are digital, it's easy to find yourself digitally cluttered.

Just like with the magazine folders, Litman suggests having a space for each kind of file so you can access them digitally. You can create a file folder background for your desktop (i.e. one colored square for each client or assignment) in a program like Canva so you can easily drag your files to their "home" on the desktop, instead of using file folders.

Of course, file folders can work too, if that system is best for you. Spend a few minutes at the end of the day cleaning up this desktop (delete screengrabs and saved files, for example), and you'll be able to hit the ground running when you get to your desk in the morning.

5. Curtail your tech

Lots of technology goes into a work day, and it's easy to have cords plugged in every which way. That's why Litman suggests getting a cord organizer. It is sleek looking and helps keep everything in its place, so you can charge your computer, phone, headphones, and whatever else you need, overnight. It's weighted so it won't make any of your surfaces sticky, either.

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