Anatomy of a Productive Desk

Anatomy of a Productive Desk

How does your desk currently look? Is it a hot mess of papers, coffee stains and pens without caps? If so, I totally get it. Our desks are our home away from home and can be extremely difficult to keep clear of clutter.

However, if we allow this space to get out of control it will greatly affect your productivity at work. Each second and minute you spend searching for what you need takes away time spent on work, and also draws your focus away making it harder to get back in the zone.

At the moment I work from home, and am working on a very tiny (but effective!) Ikea desk. Since I don’t have a huge amount of space I’ve had to be very intentional with the organization of it. I by no means have the ideal desk space, but I’ve made it work and have discovered some tips in the meantime. They may seem ordinary, but when actually implemented these tips will greatly improve your daily work experience!



Good lighting keeps you alert and comfortable. Try to avoid harsh overhead lighting that floods the area, and instead have focused spot lighting that keeps your eyes centered on your work. It’s important you choose a bulb that offers the right glow for you so that it’s not hard to look at, but at the same time isn’t so soft it makes you sleepy. Choose a sleek design that doesn’t take up precious desk space.

Physical ‘Inbox’:

Keep this small!! Your goal is to have a dedicated space for paperwork that needs handling- but I promise you the larger it is, the easier it will be to fill it up with junk. Use this to collect papers that require some sort of attention (reading, answering, mailing, filing, etc.) and try to make a habit of reviewing and attending to this stack daily.

Dedicated ‘Catch All’ Spaces:

You need specific areas to gather pens, notebooks, and other office tools you regularly use. Otherwise these will inevitably end up scattered over your desk and cluttering up the space. Another key point to this, is only keep the items you use daily actually on your desk. Everything else can be stowed away in a drawer or other location.

Keep your ‘To-Do’ List Handy:

At the moment I use a tablet stand to hold my To-Do list which turns out to be the perfect size! On there you’ll usually find my weekly To-Do list, any active paperwork and maybe a notebook stacked on it. I try to only keep active, relevant items on this and know it’s my go-to stack for what I’m likely looking for. Having your To-Do list up and in your face is a helpful way to stay focused and on track.

Plugs for Electronics:

Keeping all your plugs handy and accessible will keep you from running around your place looking for the one lone cord you know you have somewhere. Making sure your items are all fully juiced allows you to keep moving through your day without digital black outs.

Laptop Stands:

Utilizing laptop stands is something I’ve started doing recently that has unexpectedly boosted my productivity. Typically when I’m just using my laptop, I’ll prop my angled file holder underneath it for a little extra height and support, this helps keep my posture comfortable.

I also use this laptop stand from Ikea that has turned many surfaces in my home into instant standing desks- which is AWESOME! There are many times I’ll be so sick of sitting at my desk, but still have a lot of work to get done. Whereas before I might have taken a break and done something non-work related, now I just grab my stand and move to another location (usually our high top kitchen table) and voila! I have an instant new desk area. Both the standing, and new location trigger the last little bit of motivation I need to bust through my work.

Mood Setting:

I usually keep a candle at my desk along with an array of music options ready to hit play at a moments notice. It’s important to keep yourself comfortable and upbeat throughout the day, sometimes these little pleasures are exactly what you need to power through.


You’ve seen a little peek at my space, now I’d love to see yours! If you’d like to share, please head over to the Facebook page and post a pic!

Also, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below: what item on your desk has made the biggest productivity impact for you?

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