Building good habits: keeping your desk clean and organized 

November 8, 2023 — by George Hu
Photo by George Hu
My typical desk setup that I use for homework.
A clean desk and a robust organization system are keys to productivity.

As a high school student, I spend a good portion of my day working at the desk in my upstairs bedroom. It is my only safe space from deadlines and my social life, and as such, I make sure to keep my room and desk well-maintained. 

Organization is the key to getting my work done. By thoughtfully organizing my desk and room, I create the best environment for accomplishing day-to-day tasks. A clean room makes it easier for me to breathe, providing quietness and solace for me to think, laugh, cry and listen to music. 

 Instead of randomly throwing my academic papers into a cabinet, I keep folders for different subjects with different dividers such as “notes” and “homework.” This prevents me from accidentally misplacing key documents, saving valuable time in my hectic schedule, as I don’t spend hours tracking down a misplaced homework assignment or notes packet.

As an example, my AP Statistics folder is divided into the following six sections: key information documents (such as the syllabus), formula sheets, review materials, notes, warmup and homework documents and binder and graph paper sheets.

This extensive organizational method minimizes the time I spend looking for items, allowing me to pull notes quickly when I need to review them when necessary and easily find binder and graph paper for homework.       

I’ve found that a messy workspace promotes distraction and has the potential to foster a negative state of mind. If I had a messy workspace, for example, I would probably spend more time cleaning it than focusing on my academic assignments. More chaos is psychologically related to more stress. Therefore, having an organized space helps me reduce stress, improve attentiveness and enhance efficiency.

Likewise, I make it a priority to clean up after myself following every grueling homework stint on my desk. With some assignments being done on paper, I tend to frequently use my eraser, leading to a countless amount of eraser debris on both my desk and the floor. Afterwards, I make sure to grab a wipe to clean my desk and the floor. Not only are the little eraser shavings annoying and disturbing, but they also get my hands and arms dirtier, reinforcing the need to clean up. 

With a clean room comes a clean mind, and these small — but impactful — methods keep me focused on my work throughout the school year and improve my productivity.

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