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4 Tips to Downsize Your Desk

Logan's simple desk 01

The ideas presented in The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life have been on the tip of my tongue all week. As a result, Logan and I had a conversation about minimalist work spaces, productivity and his desk. I had a love/hate relationship with Logan’s desk. It’s a great workspace but the desk was a clutter bomb; covered in paper and other random items.

So imagine my surprise when I walked into our apartment and found a beautiful, minimalist desk! On the spur of the moment Logan decided to purge excess stuff and accessories from his desk. Below are a few strategies Logan used:

1. Create a clutter free desk.

Removing excess trinkets, paper and notebooks from your work space will give you more space to focus on writing or other creative endeavors.

2. Remove unnecessary desk accessories.

For instance, Logan removed the key board platform, a drawer, an elevated laptop tray and the key board. As a result, he has a clean work surface. All the extra material was donated to the local SPCA. Plus, Logan’s brother took the laptop tray off our hands.

3. Say goodbye to paper.

Paper can create clutter. For example, Logan scanned a number of his documents into PDFs. Now that his documents are on his computer (and tagged appropriately), he can easily find the content he needs for his dissertation.

4. Use Leo’s ideas to refine your workspace.

Logan was inspired by Leo’s chapter on the minimalist workspace and also loves his blog Zen Habits. Logan said this was “the perfect opportunity to remove clutter and stop procrastinating.”

Would you add anything to the list?


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Alejandro Reyes January 12, 2010, 7:06 am

    Wonderful ideas, and I’m glad you have a clutter-free desktop. Here at work there is only the computer and a phone, and 3 origami figures I made while bored. People thinks I’m crazy for not having much here, drawers are almost empty, I just have one notebook and a pen.

    At home, the computer sits on the desk with my tablet and a couple of cactus I have… not much to see there either… it is a good place for gaming too. =)

    • Tammy January 12, 2010, 2:10 pm

      @Alejandro – If it helps, I don’t think you’re crazy. 🙂

      Your strategy is awesome and cuts down on desk clutter tremendously. Have fun writing and gaming. 🙂

  • Sunny January 12, 2010, 9:38 am

    I love your picture! Chair, laptop. What more do you need? For me, it’s so difficult to keep my workspace clean. My boss insists on storing all of her extras in my filing cabinet – I could stock an Office Max! One day, though….One day. 🙂

    • Tammy January 12, 2010, 2:08 pm

      @Sunny – well this is our home office. My day job desk is very minimal too. But it tends to get more cluttered. Co-workers usually leaves reports, legislation and other reading materials on my desk. I try and clean it up everyday. If I don’t it gets out of hand quickly!

  • Uri January 12, 2010, 1:53 pm

    Fantastic. I would add the following:
    1- Let Go: Learn to let go. If you haven’t used that particular item in the past month (two months if you want to be sure) get rid of it. This might be hard, but you can learn to let go. Go over all your stuff and create a list of all your stuff. Let go of everything that is not a must-have (see below).
    2- Don’t bring more stuff unless is absolutely necessary: If you need something try to borrow it, use it and then return it. If you need to buy or get one for yourself ask yourself first: Am I going to use this only once or it is a genuine item that I need? If your answer is going to be the latter then invest on a good quality item so it’ll last and you won’t have to buy another one.
    3- Keep your desktop (both virtual and real) clutter-free: The secret here is to have little to no objects on your desktop. For example on the real desktop place your computer (try to hide the wires if you can), the phone and maybe a picture frame or some art. That’s it. Put everything else on the drawers: pens, papers, staplers, etc. On your virtual desktop, AKA your computer, try maintaining a clean and clutter free desktop.
    4- Try not to print everything: The less paper we use the less clutter we will generate and more importantly the less harm we’ll create on our planet. If you must print it, then shred it or file it away after you finish using the sheet of paper.
    5- Now, take 10, 20 or 30 minutes and go over your things. Create two piles: stay and go. Place all the must-haves on “stay” and throw the rest on the “go” pile. That’s it. Repeat as needed once a week, month or year.

    (more in http://mnmal.tumblr.com/post/279098127/tips-for-a-minimal-office)

    • Tammy January 12, 2010, 2:06 pm

      Uri – these are fantastic tips! Thanks for leaving such a thoughtful comment. 🙂

      I’m trying to cut down on the amount of stuff I print out. I read a lot of ebooks and usually print a hard copy for offline reading. After I’m done with the book, I pass it onto a friend or recycle the book. I love ebooks and blogs, but it’s nice to get off the computer once in a while.

      Thanks for reading RowdyKittens!

  • Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell January 13, 2010, 5:16 am

    Thank you for this post, Tammy. Comes at a good time for me, as I came in this morning and couldn’t find my coffee coaster because it was buried under all my papers. In my defense, I’m working on a very big resource book project right now for a client. Still, I need to learn to organize my desk before leaving in the evening!

  • Aaron January 13, 2010, 10:38 am

    Hi – love the site and the focus. I’ve found going a step further and getting rid of my desk a very freeing experience 🙂 No pens, papers, phone, clutter – only what I can carry in my bag. I’ve also found I don’t need to do any paper filing outside of giving all my banking info to my book keeper, who is much better at it then I. I keep it all as pdf’s on my computer and back up to several locations (and test a restore every so often!).



    • Tammy January 13, 2010, 5:23 pm

      Thanks Aaron! Keeping things simple is the way to go. We’ll be donating our desk before we move to Portland. I don’t know if we’ll get a new desk or not. I’m hoping not, but we’ll see what Logan wants… 🙂

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