6 Things You Don’t Actually Need on Your Desk, According to Home Stagers

published Sep 6, 2020
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Whether it’s dressing up for a meeting on your sofa or painting your work space a bright color, we’ve all tried ways to make the work from home life more productive. If your self-improvement attempts haven’t worked just yet, you may be missing the simplest way to improve productivity: clearing off your desk. 

From your gazillion sticky notes to strewn piles of notebooks, it’s probably time for a desk makeover. Here, home stagers share what you don’t actually need on your desk (don’t worry, you can keep your trusty cup of pens on there).

Beauty products

Your desk is for working, not primping. Home stager Pat Evans says it’s already too easy to become sidetracked with non-work distractions, so reduce as much clutter as you can. “Focus on what you’re in the office to do, not polishing nails or putting on makeup,” she says.


It’s not the end of the world if leftover crumbs from a sandwich are still scattered on your desk. But from now on, no more food in your WFH spot. 

It’s important to separate your professional life from your personal life, and that includes dedicating your desk to working. “Even if you just pull back for five or ten minutes and go to another room to eat, not only do you get to fuel your body, but you also get that mental break that you need,” Evans says. If you can’t simply can’t survive without treats on your desk, she says putting a tiny bowl of candy on there can do the trick.

Stacks of paper

It’s inevitable that piles of paper will build up over time, but it’s best to have a place to put them. Home stager Meridith Baer says there are many ways to fix this all-too-common habit. “It’s really great to have a file drawer near your desk where you can just put everything in a file, put it away, or put it on your cloud on your computer,” she says. “If you get it out of the way, you’ll feel like you can really approach the day in a fresh way.” 

Holding onto unnecessary papers? Don’t be afraid to bring them to the shredder or throw them out.

Sticky notes

Who doesn’t love an old-fashioned sticky note? While they’re helpful for a quick reminder, they can slowly wallpaper your whole desk if you’re not careful. Instead of sticking them all over your space, Evans says to place a single pad of paper on your desk for any quick jots or reminders.


If you’re not working on a current project using the books stacked on your desk, move them to a shelf or drawer. “It’s better to put them elsewhere to give you more real estate to work with,” Baer says. If there’s nowhere else to place the books, try to organize them in a metal magazine file.


A picture frame takes up more room on your desk, so home stagers suggest you take them off. But don’t fret, you can still have photos of your furry friends or loved ones around. Evans says you should hang photos on the wall in front of your desk to maximize space. 

Worried about your desk losing style and character? Baer says adding a small succulent or delicate vase can help bring your work spot together without taking up too much room.