How To Organize That Messy Desk - Sort, Store & Deal With Desk Clutter

Conquer That Messy Desk

When we picked out our new house, the one thing I was super excited about was having a small space surrounded by windows to work. But as much as I loved the space I constantly found myself working on our couch or going to the coffee shop instead.

#1 Reason? A cluttered desk.

I really should have started to organize it all as I unpacked, but instead I just kind of left things in boxes or shoved everything office related into the drawers:) Due to my lack of organization, there was always something in the way - I had minimal space for my laptop, I found myself constantly digging through piles of stuff for a pen, and I could never find chargers or batteries for my devices.

Can you relate? (Of course not! Haha)

If you find yourself constantly working in chaos too, here's a few tips for how to conquer that messy desk!

Step 1: Eliminate What Doesn't Belong On Your Desk

Desk Clutter

Look around the space and immediately remove everything that doesn't belong. Set it outside of your office door to sort later, but for now just get rid of it. For me this meant random papers, kids' toys, trash, and beauty items from when I get ready at my desk.

What to do with the paper piles? 4 Steps to No More Paper Clutter.

Step 2: Sort Like Items Into Groups

Sort by grouping like with like

Before finding a place for everything, group similar items. Clear the desk and make piles of similar things like pens, books, magazines, notebooks, devices and cords, etc. Work as quickly as you can, emptying the drawers as you go.

(At this step, try hard not to get too detailed. You can always go back and organize within your groups, but for right now just get the general groups together.)

Step 3: Decide What To Store and Hide Away

Tuck items away in bins

I personally like a pretty minimal space. So I wanted to find a way to contain and hide just about everything.

Drawer Organization

Step 4: Get Ideas For Desk Storage & Organization

Pens, paper clips, post-its, cards, extra ink etc.

Don't wait to organize until you have the perfect looking container - you can shop later. But for now, find something you already have to keep these items separate. I just grabbed a few unused boxes from cards and checks since I'm the only one that will see them anyway.

Office Supplies Storage

(Cans, Jars, Boxes)

Idea Notebooks, Planning Folders & Finance Binders

I'm a notebook & binder junkie so I have a ton of these. I sorted my paper clutter by quickly stashing each one into its appropriate folder to be organized more in depth later. I'm constantly reaching for my planning and finance binder so I decided to keep those in my desk while tucking the rest away in a bin on my shelf.

Notebook Storage Solutions

(Wire Baskets, Cubbies, Wall Pockets)

Magazines & Books For Reference

To give the room extra space, I removed all books & magazines except the ones I specifically use in the office. Everything else was placed outside the office and sent to a different room in the house. (Even though I liked having all of my books together, it didn't make sense to keep walking back and forth if I would only use creative books/magazines in my office.) Then I arranged the remaining items in small stacks on my shelf.

Book Storage

(Magazine Hangers, Wire Baskets, Color-coordinated Bookshelf)

Technology Devices, Cords, Chargers & Flash drives

For me these always need to be within reach and easy to find since I use most of them on the go. So I decided to keep my main devices in a small bin right on top of the desk. Everything else gets stored in the camera bag, laptop bag or box on my shelf.

Tech Organization

(Boxes, Dividers, Washi-Tape Cord Labels)

Step 5: Feature What You Love Most Around Your Desk

Inspiration board - I haven't done one of these just yet because I have a unique wall and can't decide how best to utilize it. But I can't wait to put one together soon. Having all of your favorite things on display can be so motivating. It reminds you of what you're working towards.

Decor - I'm pretty minimal so I only wanted to display the occasional plant, art piece and picture frame. Your space is just that - your space. So bring in a few of your favorite things to inspire your work.

Purposeful items - Think about what you use in your office often and be purposeful. Add a coffee station if this is where you drink it most. Add a second cozy chair if you sometimes like sitting near the window or having friends in to brainstorm with you. Add whatever would make it extra special and useful to you.

Extra Details

(Encouragement Wall, Coffee Cart, Inspiration Wall)

Step 6: Prevent Messes from Happening Again

"Sort Later" Bin

I like being able to leave my office picked up at the end of the day. So having an empty bin tucked into my shelf for random things to sort later is super helpful to me. It's also useful for hiding clutter when someone's stopping by last minute:)

Trash Can/Shredder

I know I'm not the only one who is guilty of having coffee and snacks at my desk haha. Keep a trash can near your space to keep from accumulating wrappers and empty drink containers. If you do a lot of paperwork at your desk, a shredder can be a good thing to have nearby as well.

Catch-all Container

One last thing I added to my desk is a small catch-all container for things that I like to have out on my desk but don't want taking up space. For example right now I have a few pens, a flash drive, bracelets and rings I took off to type, and lip-gloss. All of these things would be randomly scattered if I didn't have a small temporary container for them.

Here's my decluttered space (ignore the fingerprints!):

De-cluttered desk
De-cluttered bookshelf

Want to keep the decluttering going? This is another fun resource to organize your space: How to Declutter Your Home in 20 Steps

Now it’s your turn! What do you to keep the mess off your desk?