Here Is How a Minimalist Desk Setup Will Improve Your Productivity

Minimalist is a design term that refers to an aesthetic with minimum decorations, colors, and clutter. Minimalist styles utilize neutral colors or monochromatic color schemes. They gravitate toward sleek and simple furniture and shy away from bold patterns.

Essentially, the minimalist approach believes that less is more and simplicity is beautiful. And it can considerably improve your workspace, reducing stress and improving productivity.

Benefits of a Minimalist Desk Setup

If you want to know why people love minimalist desk setups, read these proven benefits below.

1. Improved Focus

Scientific studies prove that being surrounded by clutter and various objects can distract humans from the task at hand. When this happens, we lose precious seconds that add up considerably throughout the day.

When your focus breaks, it doesn’t take a split second to regain it, but rather minutes. We’ve all lost our train of thought at one moment or another, and having lots of pictures and items around your desk breaks up your thoughts several times throughout the day.

In addition, these unnecessary items take up space in your mind, demanding to be put away or used. It also makes it harder to find the tools you need.

2. Increased Productivity

It is undebatable that the more organized your workspace is, the more successful you will be at your job. Disorganization is the downfall of many, as it takes more time and effort to find the things you need, stalling productivity. But if everything has a home and you know exactly where to go for it, there are fewer pauses in your productivity.

It isn’t just about wasting your time searching for lost or misplaced items, but your patience and mental state take a toll. If you were on a roll with a task and have now been searching for your sticky notes for 15 minutes, you have lost time and reached a state of frustration. Once your mood alters in this way, it’s hard to return to a positive working state.

Research also shows that clutter and unnecessary objects significantly decrease creativity. So if you work as a graphic designer or another profession that requires creativity, a minimalist desk could improve your mental functions.

3. Reduced Stress

As mentioned, it isn’t just your time that suffers when you can’t find something, but also your mental state. If your desk is a cluttered mess that distracts and frustrates you, you will begin to have negative associations with your workspace.

If every day you feel flustered and stressed trying to locate something, this will carry over into other days. Dealing with this daily struggle will result in dread when it’s time to work or find something to complete your task.

A minimalist setup goes hand in hand with organization, with clear spaces meaning everything is where it belongs. You’ll be happily surprised with how everything having a home at the end of the day makes your workday less stressful and smoother.

How to Achieve a Minimalist Desk Setup

Designer workspace
Image Credit: Shutterstock

If you’re ready to rearrange your desk, so it has a minimalist aesthetic, follow our tips for achieving this level of organization and maintaining it!

Befriend the Shredder

Don’t be afraid of the shredder. So much is on our computer and saved in our email, usually shredded documents can be recovered in an emergency. While we want you to befriend the printer, we also suggest you make the printer your frenemy.

Some things need to be printed, but if you can keep it on your computer, why not save the paper?

Create Classifications

To organize files, paperwork, and projects, you should create classifications and categories. By creating classifications, you know exactly where a piece of paper goes if you are not actively working on it. And then, when it is time to work on it, you’ll know precisely where you put it.

There are so many ways to organize your desk and paperwork, and your method will depend a lot on what kind of work you do. To give you an idea of the types of organizational approaches you can take, check out our favorite three methods below!

Before and After

A before and after approach is excellent because it doesn’t just organize paper and projects, but all of your desk materials too. With this method, one side of your desk should be dedicated to objects that help you begin a task or project. And on this side, you should file projects and tasks waiting to be started.

On the other side of your desk, keep materials you use when completing a project, such as envelopes, stamps, and staples. Completed projects can go on this side of the desk for final review or be turned in. Any ongoing work can be somewhere between these two categories.

A before and after approach keeps your work priorities in order and gives you a clear understanding of what needs to be done.


Sometimes work tasks are quick and easy, something repetitive we’ve done a million times. Other projects can take hours, days, or weeks to get done and require more mental focus.

Sometimes 9 am Monday mornings is the moment when you’re ready to take on something complex. But sometimes, Monday morning is not the ideal time for something mentally taxing.


Many office workers must adhere to deadlines for projects and tasks. If this is the main proponent in driving your work, you can organize your desk by the priority of the assignment.

Something that your boss told you is for a VIP client and due tomorrow could be put in your important folder, while a more casual assignment due in two months can go into a different folder that you check at the beginning and end of every week.

For this method, we recommend utilizing a calendar or planner in your workspace to help you track all of your deadlines.

Utilize Hidden Storage

If something doesn’t need to be on your desk at all times, then it should have a designated spot in your drawer or under-desk storage. If your drawers are mostly empty, you’re doing something wrong. Desk drawers are a major component to remaining organized and having a minimalist setup for work.


The benefits of having a minimalist desk setup are well worth the effort to organize your space. You’ll feel more confident and content when working, and likely become a more productive worker!


Should everyone have a minimalist desk setup?

No, not necessarily. Everyone’s mind works differently, and some people benefit from having everything in front of them all at once. While this can overwhelm some brains, others feel more secure with the enhanced awareness. Try out the minimalist setup for a week or two and if it’s driving you insane, try a different desk organization strategy.

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