Do You Really Need to Have That Out? How to Declutter Your Desk and Countertops

A friend of mine has a long kitchen countertop that is covered all but for a little square in which he prepares his dough his homemade pizza on the corner’s edge.  Forlorn bottles and jars, foggy and dusty from years of sitting unused, huddle nearby.

How he works like that I don’t know.

What I do know is that he could get rid of 95% of the stuff on there, as its all stuff he only occasionally uses anyway.

I think that this is an easy habit to slip into – you’ve got the space, so why not cram it full with stuff?  And with all that people acquire, there’s always something new you want to shop for, buy and display.  And often you use something and put it down, but not back where you got it from.  It can stay there for years without anyone noticing.  It just becomes a part of the landscape.

My thinking though, is that the more space you have, the easier it is to work, breathe, think, live.

Less is more.

Use what you have and get rid of what you don’t.

Here’s how to declutter your desk and countertops in a few easy steps:

1.  Take a good look at your desk/countertop and note everything that is currently on there.

2.  Remove everything (yes, everything!) and put it all in one area.

3.  Pick up each item, and one at a time, assess how much you really use it.  Is it a once in a while kind of thing or an everyday must-have?  Whether it’s a blender or a stapler, if you’re not using it regularly, store it away.  If it’s something you use all the time, by all means, keep it close at hand.

4. Over time, you may have added some decorative items to these surfaces.  While there’s nothing wrong with sprucing up the joint, perhaps you don’t need 3 cat statues or a cascading vine of dried garlic from the Eighties cluttering things up.  Pick one cat and one bulb.  Nobody’s saying get rid of the things you love.

5.  Does it still work?  That silver cup that’s jammed full of pens that may or may not work – really?  When’s the last time you used any of those?  Toss ‘em if they’ve been sitting there for a year – or ten.  Same goes for all those tools on the workbench that are missing a piece or stopped working (If you’ve been struggling with a can opener that kind of works, a kettle that almost boils, etc., it’s time to replace them with ones that do the job that they’re supposed to…).

6.  Now that you’ve rid yourself of years of clutter, you can place what you do need/want/love back.  Not only will you have more space, but you’ll be able to see – and access – everything so much better!


7.  But don’t just automatically put it back from where you got it.  Think about how you use it: should it be on the left or the right?  Have you set up your home office just like the one at work?  Is that really the best layout?  Think about each and every little thing.  It’s easier now that you’ve got less to consider, isn’t it?

Now you’ve got a space that you can really work at, you’ll be more productive and feel much more at ease knowing that everything is in arm’s reach.  Even if that means reaching past a cat statue or two…

Stephanie Dickison is the author of the recent book, The 30-Second Commute: A Non-Fiction Comedy About Writing & Working From Home, which covers her career as book, music and restaurant critic.  She has been a journalist for over a decade and now spends much of her time writing about travel, food, beauty, style and celebrities for various publications and websites.

When she’s not writing, she’s eating, cooking, organizing, filing, making lists in sumptuous notebooks (you must use your beautiful journals) and colour-coding her ever evolving calendar.

She is one of the few writers still using technology AND paper.  But at least her paper is organized into pretty file folders…