As college students, we all struggle to stay organized and productive in the unceasing chaos of young adulthood. It’s all too easy to let responsibilities pile up while we tend to daily business, most often in plain sight, on our desks. A clean surface quickly devolves into haphazard, towering stacks of “Do soon,” “Do eventually,” “Do your best” and “Probably never going to do.” Bills disappear between letters from home, crumpled receipts, and syllabi. Business cards slip between the desk and the wall, and invitations are stuffed between the pages of textbooks, never to be read again, let alone RSVP’d.
Making the effort to organize a desk from the get-go saves an enormous amount of time. Everyone’s workspace should be personalized to suit their own needs, but there are some generally helpful guidelines to maximize productivity.
- Find a chair that works. It seems obvious, but sitting in an uncomfortable seat will create a constant distraction, like an itch that needs to be scratched. Buying a decent office chair that fits under the desk and reclines comfortably is worth the investment, especially for dorm-dwellers. The blue plastic chairs and wooden rockers just don’t cut it.
- Use vertical surfaces as much as possible. Hanging reminders, photos, calendars, sticky notes and schedules to walls, desk drawers or nearby cork boards saves an unbelievable amount of horizontal space that can be used for actual work.
- Keep trinkets and knick-knacks to a minimum. If your momentos are so cool they just HAVE to be shown off, find a different place to do it. Ultimately, they’re just too distracting to have within reach and inevitably clutter up space.
- Put the printer somewhere else. Although it’s handy to have the printer within the workspace, it typically takes up around 50 percent of the already-limited desk surface. Consider putting it on the floor instead, or on top of a dresser, mini fridge or extra chair.
- Have a filing system for important loose papers. This can be as simple as a layered paper tray on the corner of the desk, or an accordion folder in a drawer. It doesn’t have to be very precise, so long as it makes sense. Knowing where to look for documents saves time and declutters the space.
- Keep a small trash can under the desk. The easiest way to avoid wrappers, receipts, scrap paper and old homework piling up is to keep a bin within reach.
- Use the keyboard pullout. A lot of desks are still designed to include a drawer of sorts for a keyboard, which isn’t necessary for college students who just use laptops or tablets. However, it provides a second horizontal surface that can be tucked out of sight. Use it to store long-term projects, half-finished applications, textbooks or important documents.
- Keep all the office supplies together. Gathering them all in one specific place decreases clutter prevents distractions and lessens time spent frantically searching for a pen or a stapler.
- Maintain a small clear space. Avoid the struggle of having to shuffle piles every time work needs to be done, and just make a consistent effort to keep an 8.5 x 11” space free from junk.