Do you keep a stapler on your desk? How often do you use it?
What about the other objects taking up real estate on your desk? How many items could live in desk drawers or cupboards instead of on your work surface?
If the top of your desk is cluttered, start by looking at all of the equipment, peripherals, and doo-dads occupying space and decide if some of the objects could find better homes someplace else.
I started this post by mentioning the stapler because most people don’t use them on a regular basis. Paper clips, photocopiers that staple documents automatically, and double-sided printing have reduced the amount of stapling people do at their desks. Clearing the stapler — or broken printer or obsolete Rolodex or whatever you are not using on a daily basis — off of your desk and storing it in a desk drawer is a simple way to give yourself more work space. Except the broken printer… feel free to get rid of that altogether!
You don’t have to make your desk sparse and uninviting, but giving yourself room to move can help boost your productivity by clearing distractions and frustrations from your line of sight. Are there objects on your desk that don’t belong to you? Do you have a small collection of dirty coffee cups and used utensils? What can you do right now to clear the clutter and create a more useful work environment?
This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.