Small desk Shelves
My workspace isn't the most spacious or open. In fact, it's downright small and clutter-prone. Do you have any tips for making the most of what little desk space I have—on the cheap, of course?
Dear Space Saver,
Most of us know what you feel like. No matter how much desk space you have, it probably feels like it's not enough. We have seen, however, lots of well-organized workspaces that make great use of even the tiniest of spaces. Here are some real-life examples and tips for maximizing the space you have.
Think of Your Desk as a Cockpit
The workspace should function like a cockpit—all the controls easily accessible as required, allowing for maximum focus on the work at hand, quick over-viewing of work to be done, and easy ad hoc processing of all forms of input (from email, paper mail, phone, and live conversation).
Group your things nearest to you into two groups: 1) permanent stuff that you use regularly such as supplies, your computer, and reference materials and 2) transit/incomplete stuff, like your inbox.
Here's how Allen organizes his desk:
The key is to keep only those things you use daily in arm's reach. Things you use weekly can be kept off of the desktop but within reach (e.g., in a desk drawer), and everything else you can store in walking distance.
The most important thing: Purge everything you can that's unnecessary from your workspace.
Hide What You Can
If you have a small desk, we can take an even more minimalist approach—hiding things in plain sight to reduce visual clutter:
- Move your inbox: Instead of the traditional tray or file folders on your desk for your inbox or action items, if you have a small desk you could instead use a folder in your filing cabinet. Or you can mount those folders to the side of your desk to clear clutter.
Hide things behind your monitor or under your desk: The back of your monitor is a wonderful spot for hidden storage for even your most used and necessary items. You can attach pens, index cards, external hard drives, and more there. A keyboard tray mounted under your desk or a pegboard for cables and peripherals can also clean up your workspace.
Make the best use of wall space behind and beside your desk. Can you attach shelves for storage or cork/magnetic boards? Maybe mount your monitor(s) to the wall or at least raise them on a shelf or a monitor arm for more desk real estate?
The walls are your friends:
Make Design Decisions That Will Make Your Space Appear Larger
Sometimes just a decorating upgrade can make a small space look larger.
A limited color scheme can pull everything together.
Good use of lighting or moving to a room with lots of windows can also make your space feel less cramped:
Or for more trickery, change your wallpaper to your room's background for a room-opening trompe-l'oeil:
Obviously these design moves won't help little desks with lots of clutter on them, but they might make you feel less claustrophobic while sitting at one.
Look at Similar Spaces for More Inspirations
Our Featured Workspaces, including the most popular ones in 2011 and 2010 often showcase small spaces cleverly laid out and organized, so you can use them for inspiration to turn your small desk/workspace into the perfect productivity area for you.