Tidying expert Marie Kondo has taken the world by storm with her signature KonMari Method, which advocates decluttering by category, such as clothes, then books, and so on, rather than by location. What’s also unique is her approach to deciding which items stay and go – keep only the items which “spark joy” and let go of those that no longer do so.

Kondo is one of many who sees the benefit to a clutter-free space. Psychology Today* highlights that “physical and mental clutter can interrupt your flow — both your ability to move and your ability to think.” Simply put, an organised workspace means less time spent searching for things and more time being productive at work.

With a growing number of social media posts showing how a neat and tidy space can create a calmer, more efficient environment, we decided to jump on the decluttering bandwagon to organise the space that we use almost every day – our workspace.

We put some tidying techniques to the test and compiled this cheat sheet for you:

1) Purge, sort and declutter

Gather all the items on your desk and sort them into categories, e.g. books, magazines, papers, miscellaneous (such as stationery). Tackle each category of items by determining if they are essential for your work.

Tips for… Books

  • Pick up each book and visualise how it connects to your work. Give or throw the ones that are no longer applicable away.
  • If it’s a book that you refer to regularly, give it a home on your desktop. Otherwise, place it on your cabinet or bookshelf

…Papers & documents

  • Be ruthless - throw away documents that are no longer relevant. Remember to use a paper shredder when disposing of important confidential documents.
  • To save space, scan papers with important notes and store them in your computer so you’ll never have to worry about losing them again.
  • Organise your papers using physical folders for projects and people so you will know which file to refer to when you need to find a specific document in the future. 

…Miscellaneous (e.g. stationery)

  • Bin those pens that are leaky or no longer have ink and put the functioning ones in a pen holder.
  • Stack post-in pads and notebooks in neat piles.
  • Use drawer organisers for small items (e.g. paper clips, staples, post its).

Psst! Here’s a helpful hack: Upcycle food takeaway boxes as drawer organisers.

2) Visualise your workflow and organise accordingly

  • Visualise your usual workflow, then place items on your desktop accordingly. Equipment and stationery that you use daily should be within your reach and things that are rarely used should be put away.
  • Don’t just throw items without a daily purpose into your drawer. Put them into boxes or partition them first before placing them inside the drawer. This ensures that they can be easily found the next time you need them.
  • Utilise wall space to pin papers you use for daily reference to declutter your work surface. 

3) Start off with a clean slate

  • Wipe the top of your desk clean. A study by Dr. Gerba, a University of Arizona Microbiologist, has found that an average desktop contains 400x more bacteria than the average toilet seat! Phones and keyboards are not spared either. Make it a habit to clean these surfaces daily.

Psst! Here’s a helpful hack: To clean between the keys on your keyboard, simply unfold a paperclip, wrap some sticky tape around it (sticky side up!) then run it between the gaps to pick up dust and food crumbs. Easy peasy!

4) Five minutes is all it takes to stay clutter-free forever

Take five minutes at the end of the day to go through your desk and remove items that do not have a daily purpose (e.g. used coffee cups, lunch box, and loose pieces of paper). Where possible, give all your items a permanent home so your desk can stay clutter-free.

Trust us, you will feel good to come to work and see a clean desk first thing in the morning.

5) Give away or recycle items that you no longer need

Have items that you wish to give away or sell? Join the “Sustainable Green Hall” group on Workplace by Facebook! This platform allows you to buy, sell or trade preloved, never-used-before or gently-used items with fellow SingHealth colleagues.

For items that cannot be reused and have to be thrown away, consider recycling them. Simply sort and throw them to the respective recycling bins found in and around our offices.

We applied this cheat sheet to our workstation and here are the results! 



Have any hacks you’d like us to try? Let us know at!