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How to Organize & Tidy Up Your Desk

It’s hard to get any work done when your desk is a cluttered mess! Discover how to keep your desk space neat, tidy & organized with this helpful guide!


how to organize tidy your desk

If you’ve got a desk job, or if you spend your evenings at the computer, you’ll probably know that trying to work amidst piles of papers, loose stationery, and tangled cables can be a nightmare. Not only can it seem almost impossible to find anything, but it also increases the risk that important documents could become misplaced, or even thrown out by accident.

It may seem trivial, but a cluttered desk really can add to anxiety and stress levels, and the only way to resolve this is to take some time and declutter your desk – and declutter your mind at the same time. Easier said than done, right? Making your desk cleaner doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some easy, yet effective desk tidy ideas to get you started:

A cable box will not only keep the wires on your desk tidy and organised, but will also prevent people tripping over any loose or tangled wires.

How to Organize Your Desk – The First Stages

When it comes to tidying up your desk, the first step is to actually make it look worse! To really give your desk a good tidy up, you need to have a fresh start – and that means emptying your desk as much as you can. Yes, things will seem more chaotic initially, but the results will be worth the effort. Here’s how to start off:

  • Start removing items from your desk, beginning with the large items, and moving onto smaller items. You may find it best to leave any computer or telephone equipment to avoid damage.

  • Put items into piles determined by what they are or what function they serve. For example, place papers with papers and stationery with stationery.

  • Look through all items and discard anything that is out of date or no longer relevant, recycling any paper, cardboard, plastic, or glass. You may want to double-check this pile before getting rid of anything, just to be sure.

  • Use a damp cloth to wipe down the surface of the desk, removing dust and dirt. If possible, raise computer and telephone equipment to get underneath. Allow to dry naturally or, if you’re pressed for time, dry with a clean cloth or towel.

  • Start replacing the larger items such as files and folders, and along with anything that has a definite space where it belongs, such as a notepad that should be kept beside the phone. Be sure to keep regularly used items handy and easily accessible.

Tidy Small Items – Desk Organisers & Drawers

Once all the large and important items have been replaced onto the desk in a neat order, it’s time to start thinking about the smaller items. This is usually more difficult as smaller items often don’t have definite places where they belong, meaning they frequently become strewn across the desk, making it look messy and cluttered. Here are some handy hints:

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  • Use a desk organiser, or two, or three, to keep small items together in one place. Desk organisers often include a dedicated space for pens and pencils, pins and paper clips, scissors, and rulers, although more advanced versions also include spaces for notepads, sticky notes, books, and even tablet PCs.

  • If your desk has drawers attached, use them, and if not, considering purchasing a small set to fit underneath the desk, or to one side, to act as additional desk storage. Drawers are excellent for safely storing small, fiddly items that could become lost on the desk, and drawers with locks are a good idea for securely housing confidential materials.

Keep Your Desk Tidy – Install a Cable Box

If your desk contains a lot of electrical equipment such as computers, telephones, monitors, and lamps, you may have a bit of difficulty keeping the cables from tangling, and keeping the cables organised. If this is the case, a desk tidy for cables could be the answer. A cable organiser can take many forms, whether than be a box, a cage, or a piece of rope or piping, and its job is to not only hide cables from view, decluttering the desk area, but also to keep the cables untangled, straight, and protected from the likes of feet and chair wheels, which can cause damage.

Once you’ve tidied your desk, you should be left with a refreshed mind, and workspace to help you work as productively as possible!

  • Declutter! Throw away anything that is out of date, or you no longer need.

  • Group things together and designate them specific sections, such as stationary in the top desk drawer.

  • Organise wires with a cable tidy box.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequently asked questions on organizing your desk

How often should you clean out your desk?

Like any other surface that you come into contact with, your work desk will accumulate dust, grime, and grease from regular use. That being said, some surfaces receive more attention than others. So, should you clean out your desk all at once or clean some parts more than others? The answer is the latter: your desk surface should be cleaned with disinfectant as often as practical, ideally after each use. Clean out your drawers once every few weeks to remove dust and keep them spick and span for the next use.

How do you clean up wires under your desk without a cable box?

Untidy cables can be an unsightly, unsafe mess that we often ignore. If you don't want to buy or make a cable box, the next best solution is using cable or 'zip' ties. Simply bunch up the cables that you aren't likely to move and tie a zip tie around them. Using a few zip ties at a time at different points on the cable cluster helps you avoid any bulges and manoeuvre them more easily. Zipping up groups of cables (e.g. computer cables, desk accessory cables) with different colored-ties can be an aesthetical and functional solution for mess.

How do you hide computer wires on a glass desk?

Though it is impossible to completely hide computer wires on a glass desk, you can create some nifty solutions for unsightly cables. If your desk is against a wall, attach an under-desk cable management tray that matches the colour of the wall so that it blends in with the background. Alternatively, you can use zip ties to attach cables to the backs of your desk legs to hide the visible wires and run them down to nearby power sockets. If you want to hide your cables 'in plain sight', then consider using perspex/plexiglass boxes and ties to create 'invisible' cable tidies that don't go against the glass effect of your desk.

How do you make a simple desk tidy out of cardboard?

A desk tidy for loose items on your desk is a great, simple craft project. To create a simple horizontal desk tidy out of cardboard (for storing pens and rulers) simply measure a long piece of cardboard: you should measure a base, and a bit extra on the sides to create flaps (this will make the box shallow.) Pull the flaps up so that they meet at the corners, ensuring that they are the same height. Finally, either tape, glue, or staple them in place. Afterwards, it is up to you how you decorate it. Why not wrap it in wrapping paper, doodle or place stickers on it?

How do you prevent dust from building up on your desk?

Dust is a nuisance, and when it comes to protecting your computers, it can even be threat. If dust get into your computer/laptop fans, it can make them run inefficiently, overheating your computer and potentially causing it to crash. Dust accumulates when objects on your desk haven't been moved for a long time so vacuuming or wiping up dust and cleaning your desk surface - particularly around larger objects such as computer monitors - should help reduce the amount of dust that collects.

Originally published