Ah, the desk. Is there any place better for an intellectual to work? The pen of the writer, the pencil of the engineer, the papers of the taxpayer—all find their heavens at the desk. So it goes to reason that cleaning up and organizing your desk is a very important idea. We're going to start with some very basic tips, but they could make all the difference if you keep up!
Clear the desk
Line up books and binders that you use daily to establish a perimeter for your work area. Removing the papers and other objects until you can actually see all of your desk's surfaces. Make piles on the floor of EVERYTHING except the computer components, telephone, and desktop pad or organizer in the appropriate pile as you pick them up. The phone book, stapler, pens & pencils, tape, etc. go into "Things that Need to be Handy". Check the date and topic on each item as you pick it up. If it is out of date, no longer an issue, or no longer needed, pitch it in the recycling bin. Put things that belong to other people in the "somewhere else" pile.
Clear out desk drawers and cabinets and do the same thing with the contents. (Don't forget the very top area of the desk.) Clean all surfaces with a moist cloth and cleaner, then wax and then dry.
Establish a perimeter
Line up books and binders that you use daily to establish a perimeter for your work area. Hold back on the ones you only use weekly or even less often. Keep in mind that some books and binders can go into the shelves as you organize them.
Organizing your shelves
Prioritize the "Shelf" items by necessity, keeping only the things that look presentable or that you use on a regular basis to actually put back in the desk shelves. (Find new covers for items that are ratty in appearance but must be handy for daily use.) The rest can go behind cabinet doors or on a separate shelf near the desk.
Line up books and binders that you use daily to establish a perimeter for your work area. Organize your shelves, keeping knick-knacks to a minimum and then replacing the high-priority shelf items and knick-knacks so that the shelves are an even mix of work related objects and aesthetic or sentimental objects. Don't forget to use the very top area. This is a good space for large knick-knacks, a plant or large photos. Do NOT put work related items on the very top. Set unused knick-knacks aside until after the desk is finished so that you can sort them and find new locations for them.
Use the closest drawer for the things that must be handy, leaving out only items that MUST be on top of the desk. Remember to keep all extraneous items away from your keyboard and mouse. (If your desk does not have a drawer, purchase a computer monitor riser that will accommodate a small plastic drawer under it, or purchase a small plastic drawer system for use in a desk cabinet, on the side of the desktop, or on a nearby shelf.)