How to Tidy Your Desk in 10 Minutes or Less

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Keeping things tidy and organized doesn’t always come naturally to many people with ADHD. Also, since tidying and organizing involves attention to detail, decision making and is  low on the excitement scale,  people living with  ADHD delay it for as long as possible.

There are many benefits to having an organized work environment, particularly your desk. For example, it is easier to be productive and focused when you are working on a clear desk compared to a cluttered one.

Many people with ADHD argue that clutter doesn’t affect them and even quote Albert Einstein, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” There is nothing like having a genius back up your argument!

However, when you have ADHD, clutter does affect you. It doesn’t matter whether you are a student, have an office job or are a freelancer working from home; a clear desk will help you be more productive and help you to finish your project faster.

Try these 6 tips to get your desk tidy and clear in 20 minutes or less.

1) Decide what you absolutely need on your desk. For example:

*a computer;

*a small collection of pens;

*a notebook to write down ideas, rather than lose pieces of paper;

*a timer to keep you focused.

You can personalize this list depending on your preferences and the work you will be doing. However, remember the fewer the items, the easier it will be to maintain a clear desk.

  If you start making exceptions, such as  adding photos, ornaments and journals, then it is easy to make other exceptions and very soon your desk will become messy again.

2) Mentally divide your desk into quarters. This helps to reduce overwhelm. When you feel overwhelmed you are more likely to procrastinate.

3) Set a timer for 5 minutes and spend 5 minutes on each quarter of your desk. Limiting the amount of time spent tidying means that you will work faster and make decisions more quickly. Plus, racing against the clock turns a boring task into something fun. 

4) Remove all items that don’t belong on your desk. File or shred papers. Put books on book shelves and pens in the pen pot. If you have lots of notes of items to remember (most people with ADHD do!),  put them together and schedule a time in your day planner to review them and decide if there are any outstanding items that need to be taken care of.

5) Find new homes for items. You might discover your desk has become a place to store items that don’t have another home, such as receipts, notebooks or computer wires. You might not have time in these 20 minutes to find permanent homes. For now put them in a temporary place away from your desk, and then book an appointment in your day planner to organize them so you don’t forget.

6) When the last timer rings, your desk will be clutter-free  and ready for you to start your day. The more times you do this, the easier and faster it will be because new items will not have much time to accumulate.


Never feel like time spent tidying your desk is wasted time. Time invested in clearing your desk will mean you will get your work done much faster compared to if you  had sat down at a cluttered desk.

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