Taking Care of Your Desk

Do you have a new desk on campus? Doesn’t it feel great? You have your very own space to work at, it makes you feel official, and you even feel like you might not know what to do with so much space!

Well, this space will fill quickly. The picture below is my office mate’s desk. Although for some people it is fairly easy to get organized and be neat, for others it takes a little bit of effort, and when you have so many things to do, your desk could very quickly turn into this. So here are a few tips to keep organized and have some space to actually work at your desk:

Office mate's desk (their name will remain anonymous by request)

1) Use a filing cabinet/binders/cereal boxes to organize your papers. You will be getting lots of hand outs from classes and printing loads of journal papers to read. Make binders for each of your semesters, or ask around if there is an empty filing cabinet that you can borrow from your department/lab/adviser (or buy one).

2) Print less! Yes, printing less helps save trees. But this also means you have less hard copies to keep track of. Ask your professor to email you or post up the powerpoint slides, read articles from your computer, keep important documents in electronic format (but always keep back up files!).

3) Keep a recycling box next to you to throw papers in you don’t need anymore (instead of leaving it to pile up on your desk). Remember to empty it out every once in a while!

3) You don’t have to be overly neat to have a little organization. Although I wish I was able to keep my desk spotless (pictured below), I know that I won’t. Find what works for you. I have decreased my rate of printing over the years, and whatever hard copies I have, I organize into nice looking piles in chronological order (older stuff on bottom, newer stuff on top). Although there are better ways to do this, for me, this works. As the semester progresses my desk tends to look a bit messier, but it’s easy to re-tidy up my piles.

My desk. Not spotless, but it works for me.