From Clutter to Clean: Make Your Desk Awesome

by Andrea Karim on 23 December 2011 4 comments
Photo: John Athayda

Clutter will swallow you alive if you don't control it. Stop tuning it out and start dealing with. Trust me, you don't need that to-do list from October. If you did, you would have done all that stuff by now. Whether it's the job, the boss, an upcoming project, or facing down your afternoon commute, you might find yourself feeling seriously stressed out during the workday.

The good news is it's possible to reduce your stress right at your desk — just follow these easy de-stress tips to find your workstation Zen. (See also: Creating Productive Workspaces)

Organize a Clean Workspace

You can't take your boss out with the recycling, but you can remove the clutter in your workspace to create a more relaxing environment. Is your desk so cluttered that it makes you want to cry? Take some time out to organize, shred, and file everything.

Photo by Mingo Hagen

Take advantage of vertical space to post reminders, but automate everything that can be automated by using your email or phone-based calendar to keep track of tasks, appointments, and meetings. Is your computer desktop a mess? Spend an hour or so creating new folders and filing things where they belong. Don't just do it on the fly — try to find a real folder structure that makes sense to you.

Adjust Your Monitor Settings

Photo by MoneyBlogNewz

If you work on a computer all day long, make sure that your screen resolution and refresh rate are optimal for you. If you find yourself squinting at your monitor, maybe you need to set the font size a little larger. If you have the ability to customize the look and feel of your operating system's settings, use a desktop background that you enjoy and choose colors that you like (but that aren't too hard on the eye — so no Hunter Orange).

Get Personal

Photo by J'ram DJ

Everyone has a different purpose in life, a different cause that drives them to succeed. For you, family photos might inspire you to work, even when you feel tired and stressed out. For others, it might be helpful to look upon beautiful landscapes, flowers, or even posters of famous athletes or musicians. Take images of whatever it is that inspires and relaxes you and place those images in plain view. As long as it doesn't fly in the face of workplace rules, make your workspace your own.

Take a Sound Break

What kind of music relaxes or energizes you? Jazz, heavy metal, classical, alternative? Pinpoint the tunes that you find relaxing or invigorating and make a point of listening to them for a few moments every couple of hours. If you don't have your own office space, headphones can transport you away from it all for just a few musical minutes. Listen to your favorite song on your break, if you have to — just get those notes tumbling around inside your brain.

Photo by David Blaikie

You may find that a little background noise can help you relax while working. You can purchase meditation CDs and play them quietly (or listen to them on headphones). Saving your pennies? Simply do a web search for "relaxing sounds" and listen to the free MP3s that are available online.

Get Green

Indoor plants can and give your workspace a sense of serenity — assuming you don't kill them all. Houseplants are cheap, adore fluorescent lighting, and will help you breathe easier at your workstation. Choose plants that are pleasing to your eye — whether you like cacti, bonsai, or bamboo, be sure to find potted office mates that you enjoy looking at and that you can easily take care of.

Photo by David Goehring

If you aren't a fan of plants or simply have a notorious black thumb, then skip this idea altogether — after all, plants can get dusty and clutter up a space as much as anything else.

Just Get Out

Not everyone works in an office, of course. Working retail often means little personal space to hang photos or keep cactii. If your "office" is more of a warehouse floor, and you need an escape, try to make a point to leave the premises when you can. Even a walk around a warehouse district on your lunch break is healthier, and a better stress relief, than sitting and staring at the TV in the lunchroom.

Photo by Mark Hunter

Then again, if the TV really helps you zone out, then that can be your escape as well (especially during lousy weather!).

Stretch and Breathe

Stretching while you work is easy and counteracts the damage that you do your body through repetitive daily movement (or lack of movement). Try some simple stretching exercises while seated or stand behind a chair and stretch your muscles using fluid movements.

Photo by David Spinks

Meditation has received plenty of press for its health benefits, like improving immune system function and lowering blood pressure. Well, you can take meditation into the cubicle farm and help make your day less stressful. Meditation in the office doesn't have to involve loud chanting or piles of cushions and burning incense. You can meditate at your desk without making a sound. Like stretching, deep breathing and mind focusing exercises can help you concentrate on the tasks at hand, no matter how boring.

Does your workplace make it hard to relax and concentrate? Do you have any tricks for finding a sense of peace and quiet amidst work chaos? Please tell us in the comments!

 

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Guest's picture

These are all excellent tips to making and keeping the desk awesome. I'm an at home person working from a laptop at the kitchen table. I move my place within the house every couple of months or so just to keep the scenery and the inspiration fresh.

Andrea Karim's picture

Hi, Emily. That's a great idea - wish I could talk my husband into that, but we only have maybe two workable surfaces in our house. :)

Guest's picture
Kevin

What kind of headphones are those? They look awesome.

Guest's picture

Personalizing your space is huge. Even just having a motivational quote or a simple mirror ads to the "feeling better" factor.

I used to have a few pictures of my favorite vacation spots hang up just so I know I could go again...