March 12, 2019

Desk Organization Ideas: 3 Steps to Streamline Your Space

Organize your desk for efficiency and productivity. Welcome to your happy place.

You organize your clothes, pantry, books, and electronic files. But how’s your desk looking these days?

Is it organized? Do you have what you need to organize it and keep it that way?

Luckily, desk organization is very easy to do (compared with tackling your closet!) and it’s extremely rewarding once you get through it. Whether it’s your work or home desk, organizing it has so many wonderful benefits, and just a little maintenance to keep it looking neat goes a long way. An organized desk means:

  • It looks good, professional, and clean
  • You can find everything you need with ease
  • No accumulating duplicates of the same items unnecessarily
  • Reduce clutter and stress
  • You will enjoy working and being at your desk
  • Increased productivity!

Desk organization ideas abound for the top of your desk, inside your desk, and under your desk, no matter what type or style of desk you own. You may need to play around with different options, but through this process you’ll find what works best for you.

An organized desk = a productive you!

Getting started with basic desk organization ideas

Let’s start off with some basics, nothing too fancy. These initial steps will help you figure out what is going on with your desk: what do you have, what do you no longer need, and what is missing?

Group and sort. Start by going through everything (everything) on your desk and inside your desk first.

  1. Clear your desk completely; empty everything out onto your floor.
  2. Then sort like items with like items, for example pens, pencils, erasers, highlighters are in a different pile from refills like staplers and rolls of tape or your various clips (paper clips and binder clips of different sizes).
  3. Looking at these groups, separate out the items that you use every day from those that you do not. If it’s not an essential day to day item, it’s better stored in the desk with other supplies.

You’ll end up with multiple groups of items, visually allowing you to see what you have and then imagine where it will all go.

Minimize and declutter. With your separate piles, eliminate duplicates and items you have never used – donating, recycling, or disposing them. Do you really need dozens of pens? Do they all work? Do you need all of those paper clips? Are they roaming wild in need of a contained space? Your piles should begin to grow a little smaller at this stage. Make a note of which items need a container (if they’re likely to otherwise pile up or sink to the bottom of a drawer).

Identify what’s missing. Lastly, when you see what you have and how much of it, you can then get a better picture of what’s missing, like supplies or organizational tools to help you organize your desk better. Investing in organizational tools like boxes, cups, and dividers will save you time in the future, allowing you to find things and keep things neat over time.

Organizing what you see – desktop organization

First, let’s tackle the top of your desk, where you do your work. Organizing your desktop depends on a few factors, such as:

  1. What do you do at your desk? If you frequently need space to spread many things out, like a laptop, books, documents, pens/highlighters, you’ll need to focus on having as little as possible on your desk from the beginning. This means you need extra organization to keep loose items out of your work zone every day. Having a clean, clear desktop space to work encourages productivity. On the other hand, if all you need is a laptop to work, you can keep more on your desktop without it interfering with your work if you needed to.
  2. How much surface space do you have? If you have a small desk, you need desk organization ideas and tools to keep it decluttered and easily cleared, compared to if you’ve got a lot of room. Look for things that can be put away, off your desk, onto a shelf or other alternate space.

No matter how big your desk is, think of the surface space like a pie and use these approximate percentages to organize the top of your desk:

  • 60-65% of it should be clear all the time, ready for you to fill up when you need to get to work
  • 20-25% of it should be dedicated to organizational tools like a paper tray, pen cup, tape dispenser/stapler, or those items you use frequently, organized in ergonomic (read: easy to reach) locations on your desk
  • 10% of it reserved for technology, like a desktop or laptop computer, keyboard, mouse, etc.
  • 5% or any remaining space can be for decorations, photos, inspirational pieces

Thinking about your desktop like this will help you get ready for these next steps.

Organizing your paper. Look for paper organizational products that are efficient and work well for the papers you have. Do you need trays or a sorter to separate papers into different piles and groups? Need an inbox, if you get lots of documents from coworkers?

Or maybe binders are a better alternative if you don’t need to visually see the paper you have. And if you’re tight on space, go for something that hangs on your wall and will take up no desk space at all.

  • A vertical magazine file like this one easily allows you to sort books, papers, or paper resources of various thicknesses if you need to see and have access such items.
  • A horizontal or vertical sorter is a sleek option, taking up as much space as one magazine file to accommodate smaller groups of papers.
  • A three ring binder is ideal for storing documents you don’t need to see, but need access to frequently enough to justify keeping them on your desk.
  • Multi-compartment desk organizers give you flexibility with three different spaces at different heights. Insert file folders into the taller section to organize paper with ease.
  • Hanging your files on the wall means you’ve got extra space on your desk. Look for a wall file organizer that has enough dividers for you and what you need. This one has 5 cascading slots and a bottom tray.

Organizing desktop essentials. To organize the items you use every day, look for pieces that multitask and aren’t too big or small. Multi-compartment organizers are super efficient options because it groups nearly everything you need on a daily basis in one place, maximizing your desktop. If multi-compartment organizers are too rigid and don’t offer enough flexibility, look for standalone pieces, like a pen cup, paper clip bowl, or notepad tray that are sleek and efficient.

  • A desktop organizer with 4 main compartments, this option can hold items of various dimensions nicely.
  • If you want some flexibility on where different items are on your desk, look for sets with a tray, notepad, and pencil cup holder are great options. Or an accessory organizer like this one gives you the option to nest pieces together or separate them out.
  • Wall holders like this one in a rose gold wire has moveable compartments and bins, making it very personalizable.
  • Little decorative bowls, dishes, or anything that can serve as a catchall are great for small things too like paper clips and rubber bands, containing them in one place.

And don’t forget inspirational pieces and photos to decorate your desk or just make it cute. Avoid going overboard though and having just a few items on your desktop. If you have lots of inspirational pieces, rotate them from other spaces in your home or office if you feel like mixing it up.

Organizing the guts – desk drawer organization

Now let’s look at desk drawers and how to organize the inside nooks and crannies. For too many of us, drawers are where many of our non-daily-use items go to be forgotten about and buried.

When it comes to drawers, finding an organizer or multiple organizers that fit is probably the trickiest thing. You have a few options though depending on what size your drawers are:

  • Deep drawers: Levels, like a drawer doubler, give a deep drawer twice as much space by making use of the space in between the objects on the bottom of the drawer and the top. This option rests on the long sides of the drawer.
  • Drawers that are not too wide or too long: An expandable organizer that rests on the bottom of the drawer, getting wider or narrower as needed, helps you customize to your drawer and your items. Another alternative are organizers that have snaps to create repositional or removable sections.
  • Wide and/or long drawers: Ideal for wider, longer drawers, organizers that have interlocking slots divide a drawer through the use of dividers rather than a compartmentalized tray. As your desk supplies or items change, or the number of items you have increase and decrease, these interlocking slots adjust easily.

In figuring out how to organize the items in your desk drawer, once you’ve got the right organizational tool in place, focus on storing frequently used items towards the front and less frequently used items in the back. This will help you avoid searching and rummaging around. And as much as possible, store like items with like items – pencil/pen-related refills and erasers can go in compartments that are next to each other making it easy to find related objects.

Lastly, if you have space under your desk that can be utilized without getting in the way, consider rolling cabinets or pretty storage boxes that stack to make accessing contents easy.

The more your desk is organized, the more productive and happy you’ll be. Get started!