How to Set Up Your Desk for Success

Learn how to set up your desk for success! At work or in your home office, this DIY desk organization system will improve your organization and productivity. Discover how to use drawers efficiently, ideas to store supplies and files, and enjoy a workspace set up for success!

Photo by Jessica Arends on Unsplash

How to Set Up Your Desk for Success

Did you know that how you set up your desk, including how and where you store items, can make a huge difference in your organization and productivity?

It’s true!

Today I’m introducing you to my desk sector system so you can store items for optimum organization and productivity and set up your desk for success.

Let’s get started!

Two Crucial Guidelines

Before we jump into the process, let’s talk a about two guidelines that are important to keep in mind as you begin using this system to improve your office organization and productivity.

The Everything Hidden Away/Everything in View Spectrum

We all have preferences regarding the number of items we like to keep in view and how much we like to keep hidden away.

I like to call this the “everything hidden away/everything in view” spectrum, and we all land at different spots on it. It’s important to know where you fall on the continuum and consider those preferences in your organizing systems. This is an integral part of making your organizing work for YOU!

As an example, I prefer to have only the necessities out on my desk: writing utensils that I use many times a day, project supplies that are currently in use, my computer, and my office inbox. I tuck everything else in a drawer, out of sight.

You may prefer to have many or all of your supplies out on your desk along with your files, writing utensils, and tools.

Tune in to your preferences and keep them in mind as you implement the desk organization system shared below.

However, for ease of maintaining your organization, err on the side of fewer items out on your desk top!

The Frequency of Use Guideline

This guideline is the key to setting up your desk for success!

You’ll want to determine how frequently you use each item in your desk or office. This frequency of use determination will then help you decide where to store items so that your desk and office are set up as efficiently as possible.

In most cases, you’ll want to keep only the items you use daily within arm’s reach, either on your desk top or in your most easily accessed drawers, then store items used less frequently further and further away from your workspace.

I talk more about this and share examples later in this post.

Now, let’s get into the specifics of the desk sector system! Say that 3 times fast! šŸ˜‰

How to Set Up Your Desk for Success | Calyx Organizing

The Desk “Sector” System

A sector is an area that is distinct from others.

Simple enough, right?!

A sector is very similar to a zone, but to avoid confusion with my previous post on office zones, Supercharge Your Organization and Productivity with Office Zones, I chose to use the term “sector.”

So, I like to think of my desk (and office) in sectors:

  • Red Sector
  • Yellow Sector
  • Orange Sector
  • Green Sector

The boundaries of each sector are based on how frequently I use the items in each space. Here’s where the frequency of use guideline comes in!

Every person will have unique sectors based on their frequency of use guidelines, the layout of their desk and office, and where they fall on the “everything hidden away/everything in view” spectrum.

My Sectors

Here’s how I define my sectors to give you a better idea of how this system works.

My Red Sector

The top of my desk is my red sector.

Sounds a little scary, doesn’t it? šŸ˜‰

Although not usually a scary place (except maybe when I’m paying bills :\), the red sector is a carefully guarded area where only the most frequently used office items are provided a home.

I use red sector items multiple times every day.

This includes a selection of writing utensils, files or notepads for active projects, my computer, my planner/bullet journal, my office inbox, and a clipboard that holds my weekly tracking printables.

My Yellow Sector

My yellow sector items are used frequently but not quite as often as red sector items. I also reserve my yellow sector for larger or clunky items that I use throughout the day (like client files), but that I don’t want cluttering up my desk top.

My yellow zone is made up of five of my desk drawers.

One of those drawers holds my client and business files, and I get into this drawer multiple times a day.

The other drawers hold office supplies that I use daily, but that I don’t want to have on my desktop. These are things like paper clips, binder clips, sticky notes, more writing utensils (yes, I have a problem šŸ˜‰ ), a calculator (I’m old school that way), and my timer.

Because I like to keep my desk top as clutter-free as possible, my yellow sector looks different than the yellow sector of someone who prefers to have more items on their desktop.

Make sense so far?

My Orange Sector

My orange sector holds items I use even less frequently, maybe once every couple of days.

Are you sensing a theme?

My orange sector includes the remaining four drawers of my desk.

These drawers are home to various office supplies:

  • my stapler
  • scissors
  • tape
  • mailing supplies (envelopes, return address labels, stamps)
  • extra office and business supplies (staples, index cards, notepads, business cards, checks)
  • extra chargers for my electronic devices
  • and bookmarks

Items included in my orange sector are things I want handy, but they’re not items I use on a daily basis.

My Green Sector

My green sector is for items that are used even less frequently, maybe once a week or less. This sector includes all areas outside of my desk.

I store reference books, reference files, additional office supplies (if you don’t know already, I’ll confess that I’m a bit of an office supply junkie), craft supplies, magazines, etc.

A Helpful Visual

Here’s a visual to give you an idea of how this actually works in an office:

How to Set Up Your Desk for Success | Calyx Organizing

Still with me?

Okay, now it’s your turn!

Get access to our Printable Vault HERE and grab your desk sector planner!

STEP #1: Determine Your Desk Sectors

Take a look at your desk and office and lay out your sectors.

Typically, your desk top or workspace will be your Red Sector.

Desk drawers or storage carts (if your desk doesn’t have drawers) will likely make up your yellow sector, etc.

Break your desk and office into smaller areas based on how closely they’re located to your workspace.

You might find it helpful to sketch your office layout on a piece of paper and label each sector.

*If you have more than one workspace, it might be helpful for you to create a set of sectors for each workspace. For example, if you’re a creator who also has a website and/or blog, you might want a series of sectors for your creating workspace and a set of sectors for your computer workspace.

As always, make this system work for YOU by tweaking it to meet your needs!

STEP #2: Create Lists of Items in Each Sector

Once you have your sectors laid out, determine which items need to be included in each one.

Items you use daily or many times each day need to be within arm’s reach. Any items that are used less regularly can be located in the other sectors.

Make a list of the items that belong within each sector.

*Your sectors and the items included in each may shift over time, so what you lay out today is just a starting point.

STEP #3: Rearrange Your Desk for Success!

Once you’ve determined your sectors and made a list of the items to include in each one, you can start working in 15-minute time blocks each day (or a couple of times each day, if your schedule allows) to move things around and assign new homes to items.

Every item in your office should have an assigned home!

Be careful with this step….

If you’re anything like me, you get excited to tackle a new organizing project but you may take on too much at once and end up with a bigger, more disorganized mess than when you started.

Complete this step in small, manageable chunks to ensure success!

Step #4: Tweak as Needed

As you work in your newly “sectored” desk and office you’ll get a better sense for your sectors and the items that belong in each.

Don’t be afraid to move items or tweak sectors as needed!

This is an ongoing process, and it will be most effective if you continue to pay attention to how often you’re using items in each sector and shift items to fine tune your sectors.

How to Set Up Your Desk for Success

And that’s how to set up your desk for success! At work or in your home office, this DIY desk organization system will improve your organization and productivity.

By understanding the frequency of use guideline and using it to determine the sectors in your office, you’re able to make the best use of your desk and office space, whether that space is large or small or somewhere in between.

By completing the steps in today’s post, you’ll determine the location of each sector in your office, assign items to “live” in each sector, then continue to fine tune this system over time.

Good luck and feel free to ask questions in the comments section below!

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I hope you enjoy your freshly reorganized workspace that’s set up for success!

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Here’s to setting our desks up for success and making the most of our valuable business building time!

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