Some quick math for you: You've got about 12.5 square feet of desktop. Total.
Now, take off space for your computer, phone, office supplies, picture of the dog, cup of stale coffee, Jerry Seinfeld bobblehead doll -- and you're probably down to about four square feet of space to work.
Oh, wait. If you're like most people, you've got at least one, and probably three, piles of paper just sitting on your desk. You know, the stuff that you're planning on getting to, but just haven't found the time. That's another two square feet gone.
Now you have two square feet in which to work. To think. To plan. To figure out how to get from here to there. Or, if you’re like the partner at a large accounting firm I once worked with, your desk is nothing but piles of paper, and there’s NO room to actually work. (He spent all his time in a conference room.)
Feeling claustrophobic yet? You should. You’re penned in like a rat in a maze, trying to find the physical and psychological space to do your work. And it's not there.
Do you cook? Have you ever tried making dinner in a kitchen where stuff is piled up everywhere, with no organization and barely any space in which to mince the garlic? It stinks.
Your desktop is a workspace, not a storage space. Keep it clean of all unnecessary stuff so that you can physically – and mentally – spread out. Keep only what you're working on at that moment on the desk in front of you.
You'll find that you're more productive and more focused. You'll get more done in less time. And you'll feel an almost palpable sense of relief.