Whether you work at an office or in your home, you likely spend many hours of the day at your desk. Organizing this space will result in boosted productivity and increased efficiency because you will no longer have to look for lost items or misplaced memos. By curating a space that consists only of items you care about, you will feel much more comfortable and creative in your office space. Below are some tips to tidy your office in order to create a space that sparks joy.
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1. Keep the desk surface relatively clear.
To maintain a clean and organized desk area, tidy quickly, thoroughly, and in one go. The steps are simple: gather items of the same category in one place, take each item in your hand one by one and keep only the ones that spark joy. For office spaces, the basic categories are books, papers, miscellaneous items (komono in Japanese), then mementos. When something sparks joy, it feels as though your body is lifted up with a thrill of pleasure; if an item makes you feel that way, keep it! If an item doesn’t seem to particularly spark joy for you but is necessary to get work done, you may keep the item. But instead of just tossing it into your “keep” pile, take a moment to appreciate how it contributes to your daily life. Such items allow your work to run smoothly, which means they are in fact, making you happy, even if you haven’t realized that they are.
2. Tidy your books and materials first.
Begin your tidying with your books and follow this order: books, papers, miscellaneous items, and mementos. By following this order when tidying, you will begin with easier categories and progress to more difficult ones, which will hone your sense as to what sparks joy. For each category, gather every item in one place, then choose what sparks joy. Leave storage until the very last task, after you have finished selecting what to keep. The reason to do so is that you won’t know how many items you really have until you have completed your tidying. Most of the time, the items that remain fit perfectly in the storage space you already have. So until you are finished tidying all four groups, set aside the items that will be staying in a temporary storage place.
3. Discard unnecessary papers.
Stacks of papers are easy to lose control over. Each piece of paper is thin, so the accumulation of a large stack can happen before you realize it. Just as with any other category, start tidying papers by gathering every single piece you have in one place. The rule of thumb for the paper category is to discard everything—this doesn’t mean that you actually need to throw away every single piece of paper, but rather that you should choose from among them on the premise that they will be discarded. Anything that remains must fall into one of three categories: those you are currently using, those you will need for a limited period of time, and those that you will need to keep indefinitely.
4. Store miscellaneous stationery supplies vertically.
Divide and store pens, scissors, staplers, rulers, and similar supplies into compartments of boxes and cans so that they can be stored vertically. By standing them upright, you can easily see at a glance what items you have on hand to use. This will prevent you from amassing duplicate or unnecessary items. Small items (for example, boxes of staples, erasers, and mechanical pencil leads) are easier to store if you keep them in smaller boxes. The same goes for other stationery items like memo pads and Post-its.
5. Add a playful touch with mementos.
Don’t limit your office to being solely practical! The goal is to create a space that feels comfortable and fosters your creativity. Consider adding a small ornamental plant; display items that make you smile. If you have small mementos to display, organizing them to all fit on a small tray can keep the desk looking neat and tidy.
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