How To Organise Your Workspace With Anna Newton

Is your space feeling more cramped and chaotic than you’d like it to be? Here’s how to detox your desk with Anna Newton’s one-hour desk spring clean routine…

You know the saying: tidy house, tidy mind. The same goes for your desk. A clear and organised workspace equals less visual clutter and distractions, which in turn allows for more brain space to get on with your work. Whether you’re in a cubicle or a café, a spot that’s comfortable, calm and quiet is all you need. Follow these 4 simple steps to keep your workspace clear and tidy.


I’m a big fan of making one gigantic pile at the beginning of a clear-out session. Get it out. Toss it into a heap and let the clear-out commence. Your physical reaction to seeing all your desk belongings in one place will most probably be one of dismay, but the act of clearing your desk to be completely free of stuff means that you can actually give it a spring clean while you’re at it.Wooden desk with grey office chair and plants in vases sat on the desk

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Organise your office clutter by sorting it into the following piles:

Paperwork: Place your paperwork into one of three piles: one that’s junk and ready to be recycled, another for paperwork that you have to keep and a pile for paperwork to scan into your laptop.

Decorative stuff: Got any knick-knacks that are just making the joint look messy and aren’t bringing you any joy to look at? Bin ’em immediately – screw the pile.

Things you actually use: Reserve this pile for things that you find yourself using often – at least once a week – that it makes sense to have within arm’s reach.

Things you don’t: Group together items that could be donated. The less stuff that’s out on your desk, the less chance there is of your eyes wandering off task and onto a distraction.

Wooden desk with white draws sat ontop of a grey and yellow rug

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If it’s an item that you use in some capacity every single working day, then it’s allowed to be in close proximity. If it’s not something that you use every day, Monday to Friday, then it must be stored in some way. Test it out for a week or so. 90% of what you need should require you being able to locate it without your butt even leaving your chair.

White desk with wooden legs and a yellow dining chair


From your final pile of things you use often, you might find that you need some storage solutions. Perhaps a set of drawers next to your desk will come in useful to keep those files you need to keep organised and easy to find. Or maybe a little stationery holder for your pens and paperclips?

Wooden desk with grey office chair and gold storage baskets

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By stripping back your desk-side clutter and creating a space free from distractions, planning your time and getting stuff done in the work place gets a whole lot easier. Promise.

An Edited Life by Anna Newton book jacket

Anna will be joining us for two book signings to discuss her book and answer audience questions. The dates are:

Westfield London, Saturday 16 February: 14 – 15:30

Brighton, Thursday 28 February: 17:00 – 18:30


Extracted from An Edited Life by Anna Newton (Quadrille, £16.99). Photography: Emma Croman.

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