Sure, working remotely, learning online, and socializing virtually made 2020 the year of Zoom, but let us not forget how much our home “office” desks and tables-turned-work-surfaces have made adjusting to life-on-a-screen possible. They’re the real MVPs, but they can quickly turn into clutter bombs, making your world feel disorganized bordering on overwhelming at times. That’s where these easy desk organization ideas come into play.
Whether you’re thinking of buying a new desk to improve your home office game in 2021 or you’re in desperate need of organizing the space you already have, we’ve got all the inspo you need to make remote life more productive in the new year.
Making the most of the room you already have is essential to staying organized. Even if your desk space is limited, there are ways to maximize its potential. Floating shelves are a great way to make use of your empty wall space. Both decorative (yes, plant parents, this is your time to thrive) and perfect for holding fun baskets or chic bins, they’ll work double-duty as both decor and storage.
If your desk doesn’t have much built-in storage (and frankly, most of the chicer styles out there these days don’t), add some yourself. Stowing a pair of utility carts, rolling cabinets, a small bookshelf, or a set of drawers just to the right or left of where you sit makes it easy to file away those masses of papers that accumulate over the course of the day. For things that can’t easily be filed, take a cue from A Beautiful Mess and stow them in a tray atop the filing cabinet. It still tucks under the table, so the items are out of immediate sight, yet not buried at the bottom of a drawer.
Drawers are a dream until they progressively become an unintended location for miscellaneous junk. So what’s the best way to make sure only the items that belong in the drawer actually end up there? Insert an adjustable organizer, like this Wayfair find, which has dividers you can reposition to fit exactly what you need.
Floating shelves are a great starting point, but to truly make the most of your space, work in a command center of sorts. What do we mean by that? A gallery wall that lets you easily keep track of to-do’s, appointments and whatnot, laying things out visually so you’re not totally reliant on your iCal. Consider snagging a multipurpose storage system like this one or DIYing one by collecting the pieces separately. Think white board, calendar, magazine holders, hooks and whatever else you may need to keep you organized.
Add surface area to your workspace by giving your tech a little lift. Desk risers are a relatively inexpensive means of keeping your laptop, computer monitor and printer out of the way so you always have a clear area to work. Plus, if your desk is on the shorter side, an elevated screen is better for your neck and back. Talk about a win-win.
If the full-blown command center is just too much for you, keep things simple and streamlined with a classic corkboard. Pin any active to-do’s there, removing them as you finish each one (which, trust us, is every bit as satisfying as crossing them off a list). Aim for a 60/20/20 mix: 60 percent work, 20 percent inspo images that spark joy and 20 percent empty space, so it doesn’t turn into a messy source of dread.
Any paperwork you’re currently working on that needs attention now or in the near future (like, within the next two weeks) can be neatly stored in letter and file holders. It still keeps things easily accessible and top-of-mind, only minus the covered countertop. Bonus: They’re easy to DIY to fit your decor.
Admit it: You’re a sucker for those photos of tidy pantries and craft rooms in which everything is perfectly labeled. If that sounds about right, it’s time to bring your inspiration to life. Don’t worry about perfecting your calligraphy skills—Happiness Is Homemade offers this printable set of labels that you can use with a Cricut machine or with your standard printer (using sticker paper).
Getting organized is one challenge, staying organized is a whole different ball game. Color-coding isn’t just visually pleasing; it makes it very obvious when things aren’t exactly where they are supposed to be. Have fun with it! Arrange your books, supplies, folders, binders or any other items by color, and make it a point at the end of each day to put what you’ve used back the way you want it.
Speaking of labels, don’t sleep on organizing all those pesky-yet-necessary cords when you’re KonMari-ing your desk. Unnecessarily fumbling around a power outlet trying to figure out whether you’re unplugging your printer, Alexa, TV, laptop or lamp is so pre-quarantine. You can buy cable labels or make them yourself out of craft supplies or bread bag clips, and trust us, they are a game-changer.
While you’re at it, hide those wires so they’re always out of the way. An under-desk cord organizer keeps those cables tidy—and totally out of sight.
Create a designated file bin that’s out of the way to save older papers you’ll need in the future. This will allow you to hold onto the files you need while keeping them separate from any “in progress” papers. Wall-hanging filing bins are a great option, especially if you don’t have the space for an under-desk filing cabinet.
Storage cups are especially handy for anyone who doesn’t have a lot of drawer space and needs to keep smaller items like pens, scissors and the like handy. And they don’t have to be totally snoozy: Consider DIYing one out of a cute mug or jar, buying sleek, matte black cups like these ones pictured above or opting for a chic twist on the classics (like this concrete pencil cup or this wooden one). There really is a storage cup that’s right for every aesthetic.
Since clutter often attracts more clutter, having a decorative yet functional tray set aside to hold any of the items atop your desk is a great way to maintain order. Of course, using a tray might not be possible for those with smaller desks, but the same rule applies without one: If you have several items on your desk, arrange them decoratively in one corner so the rest of the desk appears tidy even if that section isn’t.
A lamp near your desk is a must, but when you’re trying to keep your space clear, a table lamp is just, well, annoying. But! There’s no need to sacrifice quality lighting in order to save space either. Instead, consider a pair of adjustable-arm wall sconces, a pendant lamp or standing lamp to light up the room while freeing up your counter space.
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