How to organize a desk (even if it’s small!)

Clutter controlled \2714

Two images of a a wooden desk and yellow bed
(Image credit: Dormify)

If there’s one spot in your house that should be highly organized, it’s your small desk or WFH space. Without having your office supplies tidy and ready to use, it can be hard to focus and get work done. Plus, a cluttered desk can make a convincing case for you to procrastinate on your to-do list. 

To help you streamline your space, we asked organization expert Jennifer Du Bois, founder of Organized by Jen D, to give her best tips on how to organize a desk. 

Not only will you feel more calm and collected when you sit down to crank out some work, but your home will also look more aesthetically pleasing. A total win-win! 

1) Eliminate Clutter

Nailing exactly how to organize a small desk can seem like a big challenge, but as with all things organization, it helps to remove any clutter from the start. 

Similarly to a kitchen counter, a desk is unfortunately a common dumping ground for junk mail, paperwork, and other knick-knacks that you deal with on a daily basis. If you find that you have a habit of setting your belongings on your workspace, Du Bois says that it can help to analyze the categories of items that are ending up there. 

Are you leaving mail on your desk? How about personal items? “Create alternative storage solutions for these items,” Du Bois says. “Setting up a mail system on a wall near your desk or designating a small drawer for personal items might be helpful.” 

2) Create zones

With so many office essentials like a laptop, keyboard, planner, pens, and paper, a desk can get cluttered quickly. Establishing zones is a great way to keep things tidy. 

Du Bois recommends setting them up by the category of items. “Some zones to consider are ones for writing supplies, most used items, current projects, electronics, and personal items,” she explains. Keep like items grouped together so you always know where you can find something. 

3) Prioritize Regular Resets

A desk is kept tidy by regular upkeep. Just as you routinely complete household chores, like taking out the trash or vacuuming, be sure you make time to reorganize and spruce up your desk. 

“A reset at the end of every work day is key,” Du Bois says. “Clear off any trash, return items to their designated spaces, tidy up any cords, and file away papers. You will thank yourself in the morning when you are greeted with a fresh workspace to start your day.” 

4) Score more space

If you do your work from a small desk and you find that you’re running out of space, you can create more room by utilizing furniture pieces. 

“A rolling cart is a great solution for a tiny desk with limited storage space. They can provide additional storage for items like binders, files, and books,” Du Bois says. 

Just be sure that you don’t overcrowd a rolling cart with too many items — it can become an eyesore if you aren’t strategic. 

5) Utilize Organization Tools

One of the best desk organization tips is to use an old fashioned desk riser. Risers are an excellent option for optimizing the vertical space above a desk. 

The space underneath the riser can be used to tuck items like keyboards or notepads out of the way. This will ultimately provide you with more flat surface area for you to work. 

6) Ditch Old School Filing

These days, most work is done digitally, but if you still have files that you can’t store online, consider organizing them in a safe place away from your desk. Since paperwork is bulky, it can quickly take over your workspace if left nearby. 

Rather than stuff important documents in your desk drawers, Du Bois says a good option is to use portable file boxes. “You can keep the files on or near your desk when you need them and store them away on a nearby bookshelf when not in use,” she says. While a digital filing system will eliminate the need for physical storage, it’s not always possible. 

7) Consider Your Workflow

Before you even get started, have a think about the way you work. “The most common mistake I see with organizing a desk is that people tend to set them up without considering their workflow,” Du Bois notes. 

“Organizing your desk according to the way you work will ensure you have all your essential items within reach. This can really help with efficiency and productivity.” 

Kara Thompson

About me: 

Kara Thompson is a Denver-based journalist with over five years of experience writing lifestyle content. She has written for a variety of publications, including,,, and Parents, where she covered all things home, food, fashion, travel, and holidays. During her time on staff at Parents, Kara launched her own home decor and organization column named Save My Space. In 2022, she left her full-time job as an editor and started her own writing, editing, and social media firm, Kara Thompson and Co.

Tennis, New York City, bourbon cocktails, and her sister's German Shepherd are a few of her favorite things.