How to Declutter Your Desk and Your Mind

Your desk is a reflection of your state of mind and an extension of your personal brand. Are you so busy with work, family and deadlines that your once chic and streamlined desk has become disorganized and messy? Take advantage of the ever-so-slight lull around your office this summer by refocusing your attention on your workspace.

How to Declutter Your Desk and Your Mind

1. Limit your pictures. A few personal items (including photos) are fine, but avoid overdoing the macaroni-framed pics or you’ll lose the clean, professional look your desk should project. Your office should not look like grandma’s living room. You might have the cutest kids on Earth but when you are under a deadline, your cluttered desk may be a distraction and slow you down. If possible, hang photos on your wall in stylish, coordinating frames to project your professionalism.

2. Create a Caffeination Station. Designate a place for your coffee cup; that way you’re not leaving half-empty cups laying around your desk waiting to biodegrade…because they won’t. Even better? Opt for a fashionable, reusable coffee mug with a snug-fitting silicone sleeve and lid. You’ll look great on-the-go and will eliminate throwing away those dreaded Styrofoam cups. Try your best to keep everything as clean as possible!

3. Maximize your space. The space underneath a desk is highly under-utilized and can be a great storage area for items that need “to be filed” or are not often referenced. You could also install a hook under there for hanging your purse which will not only allow it to stay up off the floor and untangled from under your rolling chair, but off the top of your workstation. This is a more desirable spot for it as well because it is easier for you, only, to access.

4. I can see clearly now. Create a special place for reading glasses so they’re easy to find in a pinch. I keep some in a large, short jelly jar near my note pad (and pens) so that they can easily be tossed on and off without being lost.

5. Pen purging is powerful. How many times have you needed to jot something down only to find yourself searching for a pen with ink in it? Keep a pencil sharpener close by and do away with any pens that don’t work and pencils without erasers. Only keep pens on display that you’d want your best client to borrow when signing an important document. There’s nothing more embarrassing than a chewed on pen cap when signing on the dotted line. Yuck!

6. Good stationery and an assortment of cards for quick notes. Many of you know my strong views on a hand-written thank you card, so to make this task less work than it has to be, invest in a personalized set of stationery that you can have quick access to for special occasions. This practice will come more naturally to you and the sentiment is always appreciated.

7. Reign in those wires. Wireless devices such as keyboards, printers and your mouse help keep your desk from resembling a pack of licorice sticks. Be sure to untangle the precious space around electronic items like your computer and phone. If wireless is not an option, bundle your wires with a Velcro straps or a flexible cord wrap.

“Free your mind and the rest will follow.” Take time to create an environment that will allow you to do your best work without distractions and leave you feeling your very best.


Diane Gottsman

Diane Gottsman is a national etiquette expert and modern manners professional, sought out industry leader, television personality, accomplished speaker, Huffington Post blogger, author, and the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in executive leadership and etiquette training. Diane is routinely quoted in national and international media including The New York Times, The BBC, CNN, Bloomberg Business Week, Kiplinger, Huffington Post Canada, U.S. News and World Report, and Forbes. She is the resident etiquette expert for two popular morning talk shows, SA Living and Good Day Austin. She has been seen on The TODAY Show, HLN Headline News, WGN Chicago, and CBS Sunday Morning. Her clients range from university students to Fortune 500 companies and her workshops cover topics ranging from tattoos in the workplace to technology at the dinner table and the proper use of social media.


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