What You Should Take Off Your Desk Right Now How the items that you keep on your desk could be negatively impacting your work.

By Stephanie Vozza

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What's on your desk? A tape dispenser? A stapler? A dictionary?

These office supplies could be disrupting your workflow, says professional organizer Jennifer Hofmann of Salem, Ore.-based Inspired Home Office, an office organization consulting company.

Hofmann says small-business owners can improve their workflow by rethinking what's on their desk.

Related: What Your Desk Says About You

"Tools that are used less than once a month should be put in a drawer or cabinet," says Hofmann, who helps entrepreneurs create productive workspaces. "They're taking up precious space that could be used for things you use every day or things that inspire you."

"Your desk says who you are, what you value, where you're going and what your dreams are," says Hofmann. "It's a litmus test for your life. If it doesn't portray an accurate picture, you need to change that."

Aside from clutter that you don't use, here are three more items that Hofmann says entrepreneurs should take off of their desk:

1. Cords. If you're still using a mouse or speakers attached with cords, it may be time to upgrade your technology.

"Cords look like a nest of snakes," she says. "On a desk, they not only take away from the workable surface area, they create visual clutter. I recommend that people use wireless devices to give back that space and make the area more visually appealing."

2. To-Do Pile. A stack of work may seem productive, but it can have the opposite effect.

"A lot of people have a pile of stuff waiting to do," she says. "They use it to remind themselves of what's important -- except the pile often gets so big and unwieldy that it contributes to distractibility and overwhelms, making you less productive."

Instead, Hofmann suggests that the to-do list stay on the desk, but the to-do pile be put somewhere else.

3. Random Objects. Thank you cards, knick-knacks from a relative, tax documents from previous years -- Hofmann says these objects can be dead weight.

"Anything that has been sitting on your desk for a year or more and hasn't been touched or appreciated should be removed," she says. "This stuff affects productivity on an unconscious level. Energetically it can feel heavy."

Hofmann says to pay special attention to what's on, around or behind your computer screen.

"This is the most important area to de-clutter," she says. "It's what you look at when you're trying to think. I encourage my clients to look at the layers on their desks and peel back what's not enjoyed. Photos that make you smile will help your productivity. Other stuff should be removed."

What should be on your desk.
"Fundamentally, your desk should support you," says Hofmann. "Replace the objects you remove with what is the opposite. Instead of things that make you feel heavy, guilty or overwhelmed, bring in things that uplift, nourish and encourage you. For example, replace that pencil cup with a vase of flowers or a budding branch. Your desk should bear reflection on the best things in your life."

Related: Rethink Your Office Design: Designing a More Effective Workspace

Stephanie Vozza is a freelance writer who has written about business, real estate and lifestyle for more than 20 years.

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