Today is National Clean Off Your Desk Day and you should celebrate by, well, cleaning off your desk!

And there are plenty of good reasons why you should clean your desk and your workspace often and not just once a year.

A study by Harvard University found that students working in a clutter-free workspace were more productive than those working in the midst of a mess. The students working in clean areas were able to work longer at the assigned task. Furthermore, clutter can cause us to waste time. Think of how much time you’ve wasted looking for a notebook, book, or document that you need. According to the International Data Corporation, searching for lost documents equates to businesses losing around $2.5 million in lack of productivity!

My home office was a complete disaster for most of 2019. May 24, 2019, was my last day as a high school English teacher – a job I’d had for a decade. That means I had to move 10 years’ worth of stuff out of my classroom and into my home. I had about half a dozen boxes and bags piled onto the floor of my home office and it all stayed there for nearly seven months. Seven months!

I had no idea where I was going to put all that stuff and every time I thought about it I would just get overwhelmed so I just did nothing at all. For seven months!

But I was determined to not go into 2020 was with a messy workspace so in December I finally put my big girl panties on and got to work.

Some of the boxes were filled with lesson plans and tests. I got my husband to store those in our attic. But that still left boxes of books, notebooks, and more that needed a home.

So I had to buy a new bookcase for my home office that could also serve as storage for my many notebooks. I put the bookcase together one Saturday morning while watching an old episode of Criminal Minds. Once I did that, I was able to find a place for things from my classroom – including my Funko Pop collection — and for some of the piles of books and notebooks on my desk.

Now I have a clean office and a clean desk and this inspired me to organize the files on my digital desktop, too.

5 Essentials for Your Writing Desk

Notebooks & Journals: Of course, a writer needs notebooks and journals on her desk, but don’t keep ALL of your notebooks on your desk. Most of my notebooks are stored away. For example, I have a bin for my reporter’s notebooks and a bin for notebooks for my coaching clients. But the ones I use every day – such as my goals notebook, my walking journal, my notebook See Jane Write plans, and my journal for everyday notes – have been placed neatly on my desk.

Reference Books & Writing Guides: Writers should keep reference books such as a dictionary, thesaurus and style guide on their desks or somewhere in their workspace. The reference book pile on my desk was getting out of control, so I now have a bookcase shelf for reference books. That shelf also includes handbooks like Writer’s Market and books of writing prompts and exercises.

Inspiration: Obviously, you need things on your desk and in your workspace to keep you inspired. On my desk, you’ll find two photography books as captivating images almost always inspire me to write. You’ll also an award I received when I was selected as one of the Top 40 Under 40 in my city. I have other awards and my degrees hanging on my wall, along with art and my vision board. On my desk also sits my dream jar — a jar filled with colorful slips of paper onto which I’ve written down my wildest dreams. I also have a collection of affirmations by My Brown Box on my desk. A picture of my husband and I sits atop my file cabinet. I think fresh flowers would also make a great addition to a writer’s desk or home office. I tend to burn candles instead.

Related Reading: Create an Inspiring Work Space

Office Supplies: There’s not much inspiring about pens, paper clips, a stapler or a tape dispenser, but you should have these on your desk nonetheless, along with your favorite mug – which needs to be filled with water.

Planners: If you’re a blogger or working on improving your social media presence, you need a planner to help plan your content. For me, this is The Content Planner by Kat Gaskin and you can be sure that this is on my desk. When I’m home my Day Designer is also on my desk. This is the planner I use to meticulously plan every hour of my day, so when I’m not home it’s not either because it’s with me. I am utterly lost without it!

What’s on your writing desk?