My stand-up desk is a catch-all. It is a quick and easy place to place things. I know I need to get to it, so it goes on the desk. And then the piles begin to grow.
It is like an archaeology dig of procrastination as I look at the piles—all the things and stuff I did not want to handle. The stacks of letters, papers, and miscellaneous items distract me from focusing on essential.
The challenge with a stand-up desk is the lack of drawers or cabinets. Everything is either on the desk or the floor.
So let’s get started. Oh, and get a garbage bag. The goal is to remove clutter and clean up that stand-up desk. That will involve throwing stuff away.
Remove everything from your stand-up desk.
Yes, remove everything from your desk. When I cleared off my desk, the only items were my monitors, two laptops, and a desk lamp. I then sorted each of the items into two categories:
- Essential Items – Pen holders, calculators, reading glasses, phone charger pad, coaster. keyboard, mouse and mouse pad. With just the essential items, my desk had over 10 items.
- Office Supplies – What office supplies do you actually use? My desk had 5 post-it note pads. In all honesty, I can only use one at a time. If I am really honest, I really do not need any of them on my desk. I can’t remember the last time I used a post-it note as a post-it note. I am actually using them as a very expensive pad of paper.
Look for the hidden clutter areas. I emptied my pen holders and found a tire gauge, mini flashlight, 2.4Ghz wireless USB adapter, Stylus from a Compaq iPaq, Apple 3.5mm headphone to lightning adapter, wall switch screw, and money. Not enough money to retire, but the coins are now reunited with their long last comrades in the coin jar.
Only put things back on your desk you have used in the last 30 days. If you have not used the item, give it to charity.
Beloved Items versus Sentimental Clutter
I realized one of the areas of desk clutter was mementos of projects, items acquired over time, and gifts from old coworkers. These items, over time, become a part of my desk landscape. They just existed. I never planned on them being on my desk. They just materialized one day from another multiverse and never left.
I needed to examine each item and determine whether it was essential to be on my desk. For each item, I asked the following questions:
- Do I love it unconditionally? Does the item need to be on my desk and view for 8 hours a day? If not, I probably do not love it.
- Do I use it reguraly? I have an Iron Giant action figure. It is one of the items I fidget with while on the phone. I have a smile face beanie from a project building a Dell ecommerce website. I never touch it.
- Was it a gift I never wanted? Over the years, I have received gifts from people that sat on my desk. When I changed offices, the items moved from work to my home desk. Many of the items I do not remember who gave it to me. It is time to regift to the local charity.
Beware of the Sentimental clutter. When I examined every item on my desk, only three things made it back on the desk: the Iron Giant figure, a fidget spinner, and my Rubik’s Cube. I play with all three while on the phone.
Paper, What to do with Paper?
Papers are one of the things I have struggled with while using a Stand-up desk. My answer was to use a plastic banker’s file storage box. I have one file box that sits on the shelf behind my desk. The banker’s box allows me to organize my papers and projects. It has also forced me to keep only one box worth of paper.
Quit using paper. Our postal system is fantastic. Well, until you realize the environmental impact of transporting a letter cross country in planes, trains, trucks, and automobiles. How far did your printer paper travel to end up at your office? The less paper you use, the less clutter you have to remove from your desk the next time you clean it up. We will have a future article on how to declutter your digital world.
Ways to gain stand-up desk space
It is essential to gain desk space. One of the items I use is a monitor stand. The stand I use is an Oasis Dual Monitor Stand. I like using the monitor stand to act as a hidden in-box. I can place my current working papers under the monitor stand. The central part of the desk remains clutter-free.
Repeat on a Regular Basis
Set aside time regularly to clear your desk surface. Video conferences are a great time to clear your desk. Just turn off the video, so the team does not see you being distracted.
The key is to dispose of items you no longer use. Once you have decluttered your stand-up desk, it will be easier to meet the crazy deadline you just received from your customer.