Why Is My Desk Always Messy? How To Fix It?

I bet you’ve noticed, at some point in your home office, how much of a mess your desk can get.  It’s like there are so many things that we need to do and not enough time to do them all. It can be so easy for distractions to creep in – especially when you have a messy desk! If this sounds familiar, then I have the perfect solution for you. Today we will answer the question, ‘Why is my desk always messy?’ and provide you with practical solutions.

Why Is My Desk Always Messy

You might be surprised to find out that the most common cause of a messy workspace is actually not laziness. A study found that among those, only one-third say it’s because they were lazy or unmotivated. The next two main reasons given are being too busy with thoughts about more pressing matters (41%) followed by distractions from family members coming over while working (30%). 

As well as this, many mums who are running their own business still need to get everything done while juggling the demands of childcare responsibilities. This means that there’s always something else coming up that needs attention, leaving no time whatsoever leftover to tidying things away again afterward.

Interestingly, when people think of getting their messy desk organized, they sometimes say, “It’s too painful and complicated”, “I don’t have the right personality”, “I don’t have the time”, “I’ll become a control freak”, “It will limit my creativity””.

You only need to admit to having the problem and the motivation to do something about it. This article shall address the effects of a messy desk on your workflow and give practical tips to keeping your desk neat consistently.





  1. Reduces Your Productivity

We all have a tendency to be messy at times, but what happens when the disorganization of our desks affects our productivity?

A study by the Cornell University found that people were more productive when they had their workspace organized. In fact, it was reported that employees who work in an unorganized environment are 27 percent less productive than those who work in well-organized spaces.


  1. It Causes Stress

Many believe there’s nothing wrong with having a messy desk as long as you’re still getting your projects done. However, research has shown that working in a cluttered and disorderly space can negatively affect your mental health.

Some experts even go so far as to say clutter is one of the top ten causes of stress for adults today!


  1. It Wastes A Lot Of Time And Energy Looking For Resources


Have you ever witnessed a disorganized person spend thirty minutes looking for something he should have located in three minutes?

When your desk is cluttered, you will certainly lose or misplace items, which wastes a lot of time trying to find them.


  1. Creates an Inability to Prioritize

Imagine that your desk is so disorganized that you can’t tell where documents requiring urgency are located. You will not be able to expedite them. What about important documents and files that you need for that meeting?

When you don’t have your work organized, you’re speed and decision-making is greatly hampered.


  1. There Is A Psychological Impact On Your Work

Disorganization can be a state of mind – reflecting a disorganized mind. You might also falsely create the impression that you have much to do. Also, try standing in front of a messy desk wanting to work.

You are bound to feel your motivation to work is quickly waning away. Won’t this negatively affect your productivity?


  1. A Messy Computer also Reduces Productivity

Now, beyond the physical desk you also have to consider your virtual desk- the computer. In these modern times, you simply can’t do without a computer.

Just as a messy physical desk slows down production, a messy or disorganized computer does the same.




It’s tough starting your day at work when you can’t find anything on your desk. Whether it be a pen, stapler, or paper clips – if any of these things are missing from an office environment, then productivity quickly declines.

If you work from home, then your office has most likely turned into a disaster zone where all of the housework piles up as well. Now that can cause anyone’s stress levels to skyrocket!

Follow this simple to-do guide to have everything in one place, in less time, so that morning chaos is a thing of the past!


  1. Take it All Out

If you have not attempted to declutter your desk drawers in quite some time, it is probably a good idea to start from scratch. Remove everything from your desk drawers so you start with a clean slate.

This is a good opportunity to dust away crumbs and debris that can accumulate in the bottom of drawers. When doing so, also check under and behind drawers for papers and items that may have fallen out of the drawer. You may even find something you had been looking for.


  1. Out with the Old

Go through everything, right down to each document that you keep on your desk. You need to sort the paper work you have found.

Here are some steps to start eliminating the (paper) clutter using the “Chaos-to Organized Chaos Formula,” which goes as follows:


  • Collect and place all your papers into one or two large (vertical) piles.
  • Get three boxes. Label them: File, Action, and Toss.
  • Start pre-sorting your documents into the three categories/boxes. Start at the top and look at each document.

For each piece of paper, ask some of the following questions:

  • – Does this require any action? (If yes, it goes into the Action box)
  • – Do I need or want to keep it? (If yes, it goes into the File box)
  • – If neither, it goes into the Toss / Recycling box. Hip-hip-hurray!


How do you decide what goes in the Toss box? Answer some of these questions honestly.

  • – Is it recent enough to be useful?
  • – Can you replace it again, if or when you need it?
  • – Does it have any specific use? “Just in case” is not good enough.
  • – Are there any tax or legal implications?
  • – What’s the worst thing that can happen if I throw it away?


  1. Organizational Tools

You may wish to add a few organizational tools as you declutter desk drawers. Many retailers sell trays that include dividers that can be placed inside the drawer. If you prefer, purchase individual boxes or bins that are low enough to fit in the drawers.

These will help prevent debris build-up on the bottom of the drawer and keep things from falling out. Plus, round objects such as pencils are far easier to organize this way.


  1. Have a Plan

Create a desk plan to better organize your belongings. Stick relevant documents together in the same file and drawer. Designate a drawer for objects such as writing items and erasers that must be stored on the desk.

When you have a system of organization, it is far easier to maintain your desk.


  1. Keep the DeskTop Clear

Besides your drawers, it is important to keep the top of your desk clear. Avoid placing unnecessary items in your workspace. Instead, keep them in drawers or on a shelf. This will prevent items from falling behind the desk and reduce distractions.

A single pencil holder or desk lamps is acceptable, but avoid a number of trinkets or knick-knacks. These are better kept on a shelf or elsewhere in your home.




A clean desk can be the difference between getting things done or being stuck feeling overwhelmed.

Here are six ways that you can battle the clutter monster:


  • Tools
These are the stapler, hole puncher, paper cutter – they all take up space but do you need to have them on your desk? If you don’t use them at least once a day or more, find another place for them.
Put them in a drawer or find another part of the room for them to take up space on your desk.
  • Keepsakes
Yes, I know we all love having pictures of our kids and loved ones on our desks. But once there are more than one or two of them, they are just taking up space. And they tend to collect dust, which means your desk looks more cluttered than it really is.
The rule is one or two personal, non-functional items. The rest get moved to other areas. The top of the filing cabinet, window sills, upper areas that aren’t good for storing things you use are all excellent places for your personal items.
  • File it.
Don’t leave papers sitting all over your desk. Don’t even leave them in neat little piles. The only things that should be on your desk are what you are going to need within the next 24-48 hours. If you aren’t going to use it in that time period – FILE IT! That’s what file cabinets are for!
  • Use A Notepad.
If you have one notepad that you use to jot down phone numbers and messages, and other important information, you won’t need to have all those sticky notes all over the place. Those things can build up fast, and if there are a lot of them, they certainly add to the clutter.
How often do you look at a sticky note to realize that it is about something that you don’t even remember anymore? Use one notepad for all of your notes and when something is completed, go into your notepad and strike it off. That way you’ll know that only the things that aren’t stricken are relevant.
  • Keep Only The Items You Need On Your Desk.
Do you really need to have a pen in every color of the rainbow on your desk? Not very likely – unless you do some kind of artistic work that requires you to work in many different colors.
Keep a blue pen, a pencil, and maybe a red pen on your desk and put the rest away. The same goes for other small objects. You might need an eraser or white-out, but most of the smaller items on our desk are not needed throughout the day – put them away.


Implement the clean desk policy. At the end of each day – or even several times a day like before you go for lunch – take 5-10 minutes to clear your desk.
Only the most immediately needed materials should be out there. Everything else gets put away or filed. Trust me – this is a very satisfying 5-10 minutes because when you come back after lunch or the next morning, you can immediately focus on your first task at hand.




Studies have shown that there are some people whose productivity is not hindered by messy desks. It shows that disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights.

Workers in disorderly space consistently generated more innovative and creative ideas than those working in organized workplaces– simply put studies have shown that creativity loves chaos! Despite all these, the majority of people require organized workstations to perform maximally.


In conclusion, though there is a debate on messy being a sign of genius, research also states that most people benefit from neat spaces. They enjoy clearer thinking and tend to simplify thoughts and choices, and are more productive. Spend some time clearing out the messy desk by going through your papers and pre-sorted them in the way described above.

To stay consistent, create a clean desk policy for yourself and observe it for your home office‘s benefit. Remember that by sorting a messy desk, you are not spending time, you are investing time by getting organized. It’s well worth it, so do it today!