By Kara Mason

Pretty Desk Storage Ideas to Boost Productivity


There’s nothing like a clear and organized work space.

The average office worker spends six hours a day at their desk, looking at their computer, according to recent studies.

That’s a lot of time in one place. 1,700 hours per year, one study found last year.

There are even weeks where some of us may spend more time at our desks than in our beds. 

*cough* guilty *cough*

With so much time at your desk, a little organization a lot of savvy desk storage is required, especially if we’re working in small spaces. 

Desk storage isn’t always easy. We’re confined to one defined space, sometimes with little room to fit everything required for long hours. But desk storage, even under set circumstances, can be pretty AND help keep you productive.

The big key is to find pieces that encourage organization. Here’s a few tips from experts on keeping your desk a neat place to work: 

  • Stick to a “one-in-one-out” rule. If you set a piece of paper on your desk, get rid of another. A lot of people abide by this rule with their closets, but it’s great for work spaces too. It forces you to be mindful about what you’re keeping around and what’s actually a necessity.
  • Do a weekly audit. There are some weeks that contribute more clutter than others. End or start your week with a 5 minute audit and clean-up of your desk. Sort through papers, get rid of the dry pens, and put everything back in its place. It’ll help you feel refreshed and ready to work, and everything will be easier to find when you need it.
  • Keep a notebook handy. Instead of writing notes on little scraps of paper, which will inevitably get lost or in a forgotten pile, keep a notebook at your desk. It’s your catch-all for thoughts, messages, and reminders, so they’re easy to find in one place.
  • Digitize! We all have that stack of papers that we can’t get rid of, but they’re not necessarily relevant every day. The struggle is real with this particular pile. For these situations, digitize. There are several mobile apps (like Evernote) that allow you to take photos of your documents and turn them into PDFs. Then you can stash them away in an easy-to-find folder on your laptop. If you really need a hardcopy, it’s easy enough to re-print.

The easiest places to work are places that invite productivity. They should be organized, but comfortable. We spend a lot of time at our desks, so we should enjoy being there, even if we don’t always enjoy the work.

Desk storage for papers 

Papers are probably the biggest source of desk clutter. Get a filing system that works for you. There are a couple of options that work really well to keep papers organized and out of your way.

  • Paper trays. These are great if you have a lot of paper that’s coming into your work space and also leaving your workspace, but doesn’t need to be tightly organized. You can add folders as necessary, but a simple easy-to-use option is best here. This gold wire desk tray from World Market looks clean and beautiful at any desk. If you’re not sure how much paper storage you need, opt for an option that you can add on to; there are stackable paper trays, too!
  • Magazine file. Keeping inspiration at your desk is a must for productivity. For writing inspiration, I like to keep my favorite magazines always at arm’s reach. If you have magazines or other materials (like portfolios or prints) that you reference often, keep a magazine file at your desk so they’re easy to grab. This woven magazine file from Joss and Main is easy to see through, so you won’t waste any time digging for what you need. 
  • Filing system. For those of us who need a little bit more from your storage, go all-in with a filing system. If you have enough room to add a small cabinet to your space, there are a lot of options. This one doubles as a seat, perfect for impromptu team meetings at your desk. You can get colorful folders and tabs to keep everything organized but pretty, no matter how complex the system becomes.

Desk storage for supplies 

Don’t let all of your pens and writing utensils sink to the bottom of your work bag. Storing them is easy to do, and probably the easiest way to infuse some style into your desk setup. Use a stylish mug to keep writing utensils neat and easy to access. 

For the office warriors who regularly need extras like scissors, staplers, and everything else, use a storage system with lots of versatility. The Codify Pencil Holder, at Anthropologie, has room for everything and is so pretty you’ll want to keep it organized uncluttered.

If you have things that you use semi-frequently, keep them tucked away in a desk drawer organized with a drawer divider system. That way, they’re not out cluttering your desk, but they’re also not cluttering a drawer. When you need a tool, you just open the drawer and find it exactly where it’s supposed to be.

Desk storage for tech

Our desks can easily become a hub for screens and cords. From charging stations to laptops, there’s easily not enough room to keep everything in one place. 

First things first: find a way to corral your cords. A tray that attaches to the back of your desk is perfect for bigger cords (like desktop computers and printers) because it keeps cords off the ground and eliminates the likelihood your feet will become tangled. 

For smaller cords, like your phone charger or earbuds, keep things wrapped up and looking neat with a twistable cord tie.

Next, find a place to keep your tech supplies out of the way allowing you to focus on work. It’s so easy to get distracted by Apple Watch notifications and buzzing phones. This charging station is small enough to sit on your desk, but covers all of your bases: phone, AirPods, and Apple Watch. You’ll never have to worry about an end-of-the-day dead battery again!

Utilizing your space effectively

If you just don’t have enough space on your desk, think vertical. Add a few shelves above your desk, or hang up storage tools like cork boards to attach papers you need for quick visual reference (like important phone numbers). Your shelf space should be reserved for items you don’t need every day, but are good to have around, like extra notebooks or books you’ve been meaning to get to. 

Shelves are also a great way to add style to your space while avoiding clutter at your desk. Try a pretty clock, photograph, or a plant to keep things looking natural. 

The key to good desk storage is knowing what you need most often, and then making those things easy to find and reach. Anything you can do to beautify those organization systems is icing on the cake, and makes your work day feel a little bit more special.