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How do I Deal with Desktop Clutter?

B. Miller
B. Miller

Dealing with desktop clutter is often a three step process. It begins with identifying the items you can eliminate on your desktop, creating a type of organizational system, and then finally sticking to that organizational system when new items come in. Of course, desktop clutter can refer to two different things: physical clutter on your workspace or desk, as well as virtual clutter on your computer desktop.

Dealing with virtual desktop clutter is often much easier than dealing with actual desktop clutter. To begin, go through all the icons on your computer desktop and consider the ones you actually use; chances are, you don't use all of them. Delete the icons you don't regularly use. You are not deleting the programs, just the desktop shortcuts, and you can always access the programs through the menus if you need to.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

Then, create a system of folders to organize any documents that litter the desktop. For instance, if you are working on a specific project for work, place all the files for that project in one folder. Before long, you will have eliminated all unnecessary icons on the desktop, and it will be much easier to find what you are looking for.

Then, you can begin to deal with the physical clutter in your workspace. The first step is to go through everything on your desk and throw away anything that is unnecessary. Remember to shred documents with any personal information on them.

Next, consider which items on your desk are contributing to desktop clutter that you actually need. You may decide to purchase a bin or small storage box for the top of your desk. These allow you to keep all your important papers in one place, while separating and dividing them to prevent them from becoming lost or buried. Desktop organizational systems often include a number of different dividers, such as for incoming documents, outgoing documents, or mail, to name a few.

Consider a cord organizer to streamline any cords from electronics such as a computer, cell phone, camera, or other types of devices. In addition, sometimes pictures and knick-knacks can contribute to desktop clutter, so determine whether you actually enjoy looking at everything on your desk, or if you can get rid of a few things, or even just relocate them to somewhere else. Finally, do not let people simply drop things off on your desk and leave them; if people hand documents to you personally, they will be less likely to get lost in the shuffle and create more desktop clutter.

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Discussion Comments


I seem to have more trouble with a cluttered computer desktop. I will store many folders right on my desktop for easy access, and before you know it, it is a cluttered mess. It takes just as much time to clean up your computer as it does the papers on your desk.

Keeping computer files organized is as important as any other kind of file organization. Your life will flow much smoother if you have a good file system on your computer. Using folders and sub-folders can really help with this.


I am what some people would call a paper stacker. My desk is full of piles of stacked papers that I will get to someday. When I look at it, I don't feel that I have a cluttered desktop because the stacks are nice and neat. But I know that there are important papers there that need to be tended to.

The best thing that has worked for me, is to take some time every Friday, before the weekend, to go through the stacks and file, shred or put in my current box. I still stack my papers through the week, but know that I make a concentrated effort to go through them once a week, they will not get too out of control.

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