desk view

5 Tips for Organizing Your Desk and Keeping It Clean

desk view

It’s a random Wednesday night. You’re sitting at your desk writing a paper that’s due the next day, and you don’t want to think about the philosophy questions, Econ reading, calc homework, and management project that’s also due by the end of the week.

It doesn’t help that there are two water bottles, a dirty mug that you used to make instant oatmeal 3 days ago, and enough makeup products to fill a Sephora scattered across your desk. Please ignore the stack of papers for your essay that is perched precariously close to the end of your desk and that you’re trying hard not to knock off while flipping through the multiple books that you’re using as sources.

Thoughts that go through your mind: How long has that coffee cup been there? Did I get coffee 3 hours ago already? Why is there only ice? I really need to learn to always get the grande because the tall is a joke and everyone but non-coffee drinkers know it. Oops, there goes that stack of papers…

Does clutter stress you out? When I don’t deal with it for a little bit, it definitely stresses me out. Even if it doesn’t bother you, you have to admit that trying to work around piles of papers and a million random containers is not very conducive for getting homework done.

Organizing your desk can seem pretty duh, but keeping it that way is trickier than you first realize. Today, I’m going to talk about how I organize my desk and try to maintain that level of organization. Here are 5 tips:

  1. Contain your clutter. Use containers to keep similar items in one place so that they’re easier to find and take up less space. I painted large mason jars (see pictures) and filled them with my pens and makeup brushes. I use smaller mason jars to hold items like hair ties, washi tape, and my book tabs that I explain in Put a Tab on It: How to Make Book Tabs. These small jars fit both on your desk or stacked in drawers.

mason jars

  1. Don’t stack papers. Unless you enjoy trying to balance stacks of paper on your desk, store them in the corner in this file folder organizer. I use mine to hold scrap paper, my clipboard, and folders.


  1. Please dust. Yes, it’s college and you don’t want to have to dust things, but being able to wipe a layer of dust off your desk lamp is not appealing. Plus your allergies will thank you. These Swifter dusters are really helpful for cleaning all the random dorm room nooks and crannies.


  1. Prioritize your desk. If something doesn’t need to be there, remove it. Move items that you don’t use on a regular basis to one of your desk drawers or your closet. You want to have enough space to fit your laptop as well as any papers and books you might be using.


  1. Keep it clean. Wash your dirty dishes, throw out garbage and unnecessary scraps of paper, and clean up messes. Throughout the day I end up moving things around as I use them, but I always try to reorganize or straighten them when I put them back or at the end of the day.

For more tips on how to keep your life organized, check out my post Breaking the Cycle: Taking the First Step to Better Organization.


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