Five ways to turn your messy desk into a paper-free paradise

Messy desk with loads documents on it

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1. Organise your papers

How anyone survives without a neat little set of system drawers, we'll never know. We like this sorter which has lots of storage: a tray for new stuff, a nice spacious middle layer for finished documents/outgoing mail and several slots for keeping ongoing paperwork to hand. If you really want to push the boat out, you could also invest in a business card holder too. Those fiddly bits of paper always go astray if not properly housed.

2. Have a weekly clear out

The longer you put off tidying your desk, the more difficult it is to clear. Give your workspace a quick once over every week to keep clutter at bay. File away any documents you're finished with, put urgent paperwork in your in-tray (see above!) and give surfaces a little wipe. Did you know that the average desk is covered with more bacteria than a toilet seat? Intrigued/appalled? Check out Viking's Dirty Desk campaign.

3. Try not to eat at your desk

I know, I know. This is a big ask. There's only so many hours in the day and you have 10,000 things to do... But try - just try - to eat your breakfast/lunch/dinner/high tea away from your desk. It'll help keep your desk crumb-free and it's also good for you. Getting away from your desk for even half an hour can refresh your mind and help you concentrate for the latter part of the day. You'll also be less likely to snack if you make sure your meals all take place away from your workspace.

4. Re-use your mug

Do you really need to use a different mug every time you make a new cup of tea? The answer is no. It's better for the environment, and for your desktop, to simply rinse and re-use. That way, you won't end up with five mugs teetering on the edge of your table at the end of the day. You also won't accidentally run the risk of taking a sip from the wrong mug and getting a mouthful of cold tea!

5. Keep your work life separate from your home life

This tip goes out to all you home workers. We've already exhorted the benefits of creating a work-only space in your home, but if you are working from your kitchen table, make sure that you rid it of kids' toys, breakfast crockery, household bills and magazines before you start working. It's a great way to ensure that you can focus on the job at hand and helps your mind to separate your work and home lives.

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