If you have a messy desk it may well be a sign that you're a secret genius (according to this study) but unfortunately clutter is a real risk when it comes to your physical comfort and health. If you want to get the most out of that brilliant brain of yours, perhaps it's time to have a clear up.
The old adage goes that a cluttered desk leads to a cluttered mind, to which Albert Einstein famously said: "If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?"
If you, like Einstein, are the type of person who prefers to work in a chaotic den of piled papers and accumulated detritus, it may be time to consider your posture and positioning.
Are you reaching over things to find your mouse? Are you twisting to find documents? Are you perching devices on piles of things and craning your neck to see them?
Clutter can cause you to reach and twist for your equipment which, over time and with repetition, puts stress on your musculoskeletal system and can lead to injuries in the back, neck, shoulder and arms. We've drawn together some of our top tips for keeping your desk tidy.
It's not about forcing yourself to work in a lifeless, sterile environment - which after all isn't productive for all of us. The idea is that with a little more order you'll have more space to adopt good posture and positioning, and hopefully be more comfortable and productive while you're at it.
1. Get crafty with cable management
Electrical wires have an amazing ability to become irretrievably tangled up in a terrifying and impenetrable mass when you're not looking. If perfectly good surface space is being taken up by your very own pet cable monster, you may want to think about investing in cable management. If you have a sit-stand desk, try our new Spiral Cable Management Spine, which can stretch and compress as you move your desk from sitting to standing height without dislodging any of your equipment. Another great tip for cable management is to go wireless where possible. We sell a variety of excellent wireless keyboards and mice online. Make sure you use your mouse and keyboard to the front of your body to minimise reaching and twisting.
2. Have an end-of-day clear up, every day
It's tempting, when you finish your last task of a particularly long and onerous day, to switch off, stand up and sprint home without a backwards glance at the graveyard of scummy coffee mugs and unintelligible post-it notes you left behind. Instead of relying on 'tomorrow you' to clean up yesterday's mess, make a habit of having a quick tidy up just before you leave for the evening. This way, clutter never has a chance to build up, and you can deal with any scrawled ideas and notes before you forget what they mean.
3. Discover the productivity-enhancing joys of a document holder
If your job ever requires you to glance rapidly between a computer screen and a piece of paper (or a tablet/phone), say if you're typing up notes, or referencing something, then it's worth considering a document holder. At the very least, it's probably going to ramp up your work speed, improve your accuracy, lower your chances of hurting your neck, and almost certainly make your desk a bit tidier. Position the document holder directly in front and just below your screen so you only need to move your eyes up and down to see your documents - not your entire head. This'll also keep all your papers in one lovely, neat and easily-accessible place, rather than scattered haphazardly across the surface of your desk.
4. Be smart with storage
If you find that you're constantly battling with a never-ending tide of desk mess, it may be that you're lacking in adequate storage. Pedestals are designed to slot neatly underneath your desk, offering secure, spacious storage for desk clutter. Just make sure there's enough room for your legs. Both feet should be flat on the floor with your knees angled slightly lower than your hips.
5. Use a tablet or laptop stand
These days it's not uncommon to be surrounded by a solar system of technological devices as we work at our desktops. This can add to the feeling of mess and clutter, and cause us to twist our bodies in compromising ways. We recommend investing in a tablet or laptop stand. The new Vision is a two-in-one solution that can be configured for laptop or tablet use. It elevates your screens to a comfortable viewing angle to help you avoid tech neck, and keeps your devices in a safe, accessible place. Browse and shop our collection of laptop stands ›
6. Keep a bin within reach
It's a simple tip but having a bin within reasonable throwing distance leaves you with no excuse to leave empty packets and balled up pieces of paper all over your desk. Just try not to leave them on the floor either.
7. Disinfect regularly, or use antimicrobial equipment
Here's an unpleasant fact: studies show that our computer keyboards can be significantly more germy than toilet seats. Your hands touch a lot of surfaces during the day, spreading all kinds of bacteria to your workstation. To reduce the spread of germs and unpleasant food-derived grime, have a spritz of disinfectant every once in a while, or - another option, use antimicrobial products. We submitted our specially-treated Penguin mouse to a scientific trial and found 83% less bacteria on it compared to a non-treated mouse used for the same period of time. Our Number Slide Keyboard is made with the same treated plastic.
8. Install adjustable monitor arms
An instant way to free up space and improve the ergonomics of your workstation is to mount your screen (or screens) on adjustable monitor arms secured to the back of your desk. Make sure your monitor sits directly in front of you at arm's length with the top of the screen level with your eyes. Not sure where to start with choosing your monitor arm? See our infographic, Monitor arms: what they are and how to choose, for more information.
9. Get a pen holder
Pens spawn and multiply when you're not looking. If you're not careful, biros will take over your desk. Invest in a pen holder to keep them all safely contained.
10. Keep a DSE check-list within sight
Finally, intimidate yourself into tidiness by keeping a DSE check-list like this one within sight. Remember that you need a clear space around you to maintain a good working posture, and you need a good working posture to properly manage your risk of musculoskeletal disorders like back pain and RSI.
That rounds off our top 10 tips for keeping a tidy desk. Of course, you can always start from scratch. Shop our range of adjustable desks, and make sure you're extra comfortable with one of our office chairs.