PRODUCTIVITY

Feng Shui Your Desk: The Cheater's Guide

Design your workspace to get more done. Here are six ways to beat back the clutter on the cheap.
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Arrange my desk for better work harmony? What, you mean, bring order to the piles of charging cables, papers, books, and maybe that plate from lunch yesterday?

I'm no feng shui expert but I recently embarked on a mission to battle my work clutter and be more intentional about what I allow in my work space. Here are six things I've done to make sure the clutter doesn't win this battle--and to see if my productivity improves as a result. 

1. Get rid of the doo-dads.

We've all seen those desks with multiple figurines and movie characters sitting on the edge of a cubicle wall. Maybe they serve a purpose for you--inspiring you to think outside of the box--but they can also be quite distracting. I've removed all traces of them, including a weird video game character from the Halo franchise (what was I thinking?). Everything on my desk now has a specific reason for being there.

2. Bring in some green. 

One of those items I've added is a Click & Grow Smart Herb Garden. It's there to add some life to my desk and add some organic appeal. There are three herb cartridges included--one for basil, thyme, and lemon balm. Each cartridge is filled with a special soil that encourages fast growth, and there's a light that sits above the plants. You fill the reservoir, plug in the light, and wait for the plants to grow.

3. Use a day sheet pad.

I started using these day sheet pads recently. They are a simple reminder to focus on what is important during the day. The thick 8.5×11-inch sheets provide a place to write down one thing to accomplish before 5. Then, you can write out a few extra priorities. I've been jotting down the research tasks I'm trying to finish for the day, since that's a big part of my job.

4. Prop up your iPad.

I also use a new stand for the iPad Air called the iPort. At first, I was a little suspicious that I'd just leave my iPad in my backpack or on a table as usual. Yet, the stand has worked wonders. I prop up an iPad to my left and use it to check my Twitter feed using the SproutSocial app during the day (that means one less tab I need open in my browser on my main work computer). The stand also lets you charge your iPad while you use it.

5. Use a journal.

It might seem obvious, but having a journal handy at your desk is critical to your daily productivity. Go ahead and splurge on one--Moleskine offers a few good options. You need an analog method to break from the digital flow. Jot down any new ideas and take the journal with you at all times. Then, transfer the notes into an app like Google Keep or Evernote. I always have a journal sitting to my right on the opposite side of my iPad for jotting down notes.

6. Add one ornamental object.

Okay, go ahead and get rid of any distracting objects on your desk, but consider adding one or two items that serve as a creativity booster. Lately, I've had a DJI Phantom 2 Vision drone sitting near my desk--it reminds me that I want to get outside and fly around taking aerial videos. I also have a Titan Bitcoin I've owned for several months. It's really there as a keepsake, as it holds no real value.

What's on your desk?

Last updated: Mar 31, 2014

JOHN BRANDON | Columnist

John Brandon is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine covering technology. He writes the Tech Report column for Inc.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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