Your desk can be a sanctuary in a chaotic work day, but it can just as easily become a source of anxiety that interferes with your productivity. With a new year just beginning, the time is right to reexamine and improve your office and workspace. These five small changes will go a long way toward improving your output and your state of mind.

1. Move Your Desk to Gain Control

As the place where you sit for dozens of hours a week, your desk is the centerpiece of your workspace. When was the last time you reevaluated its location? Take a note from the ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui, which recommends placing your desk so it faces the door. By assuming this “commanding position” you’ll be better able to see opportunities coming your way. Surprisingly, this same lesson discourages you from placing your desk in front of a window, as it will force your attention outside instead of on the task at hand.

2. Sit (and See) Pretty

young woman desk computer stock photo
Young woman working at home or in a small office, vintage hipster clothing, curly hair by William Perugini

Experts in ergonomically sound offices advise that your eyes are level with the top of your monitor, which should be arm’s length away from your body. If the two don’t line up, adjust the height of your chair, or place your monitor on a good thick book. Sitting up straight with your feet flat on the floor and your knees at the same level as your hips can also help you work more comfortably.

Be sure to look away from your screen at regular intervals—every twenty minutes or so—and blink several times when you do. As any eye doctor will tell you, this practice can help relieve dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and other symptoms of digital eye strain, a condition currently experienced by 68 percent of millennials and 63 percent of Generation X.

3. Assess Your Desk

clean desk improve your office stock photo
Cork board above white desk in cute girl’s study room by

Earlier this year, CNN Money published a guide to desk organization. Among its top tips: embrace white space. Your desk (and your mind) will feel less cluttered and be ready to receive incoming paperwork if you keep a spot open at all times. Other tricks include cutting down on sticky notes, which can quickly get out of control. If you haven’t yet adopted digital stickies or a web-based calendar like Google Calendar, now is the time.

Cutting down on clutter can be difficult, especially when the items in question are sentimental. If you’re having trouble decluttering, take a note from Marie Kondo’s popular organization method: If an item doesn’t bring you joy, it’s not worth holding on to.

4. Remove Distractions

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Portrait of a young woman sitting at home writing on note pad by mimagephotography

The average workplace is full of distractions; among the factors that could be preventing you from maintaining a sharp mind are open doors and digital alarms.

Don’t be afraid to occasionally separate yourself, either physically or mentally, from your colleagues. You may have earned a great reputation for being available at the drop of a hat, but it’s important to set aside some head-down time as well. Whether your office is open-concept or you work from home, hang a figurative “Do Not Disturb” sign for an hour or two every day so you can really get down to business.

Another common distraction that plagues us at work is the endless string of digital alarms. A digital calendar can help keep you on track, but if alerts are competing with countless other notifications, they’ll only be lost in the noise. Rather than rely on the default setting, which is sure to include an alert, sift through all of your apps and evaluate the importance of each. Disable non-essential alarms, and pare down the rest. You’ll be left with the notifications that matter most.

5. Find Your Inspiration

Whether you’re writing ad copy or designing a home page, inspiration can sometimes be elusive—especially when you have a million other things on your plate. Visual inspiration, whether it’s a screensaver of a pink sand beach or a favorite quote jotted down on a scrap of paper, acts as a focal point, encouraging you to pause and recenter yourself before beginning a task with new motivation.


Get small doses of inspiration with Shutterstock Tab, a Chrome extension designed to bring you a new, curated image with each new tab you open. This makes every in-between moment at work as functional as it is reflective.

As you head into 2016, these office decor tips will help you do so with a clean desk and a clear mind. Your work will thank you for it.

Now that you’ve improved your office space, learn more about workplace lingo.

Top image: Business Communication Internet Technology Concept by