How to Organize Your Pen-Riddled Desk Drawer in 10 Minutes Flat

A lunch break project you can commit to.
gif of office supplies going into a desk

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Everyone has a junk drawer at home, but what no one ever talks about is the one at the office. Over time, all the miscellaneous items we accumulate between 9 and 5 (dried-up highlighters, irrelevant Sticky Notes) get shoved into a never-to-be-seen-from-again compartment. How can we expect to have a clear mind when, behind the scenes, our workspace is overflowing with clutter? 

“People have all sorts of things crammed into their desks,” says professional organizer Shira Gill (@shiragill). “Kid’s stuff, gum wrappers, candy, receipts, passports, you name it.” Fortunately, it doesn’t take long to get your workflow back in order. Set 10 minutes aside during your lunch break, divide, and conquer. (Seriously, it’ll be the easiest task you tackle all day!) Gill shows us how in five simple steps: 

white desk agianst a green wall
photography by belle morizio
items sitting in a desk drawer compartment
photography by belle morizio

Step 1: Remove Everything

Clear out the interior of your drawer(s) and spread out all your belongings. Toss any items that qualify as garbage and do a thorough test of all writing implements (odds are you have way too many nonworking pens). “Pick a style you love and buy five to 10 for your desk. You can always replace them when ink is low!” says Gill. Edit the rest of your office supplies down to the items you use once a week.

Step 2: Carve Out Nooks for Things That Roll Around

Turn an empty rectangular drawer into a functional storage spot with dividers. A single shallow tray is great if you have a lot of paper, but you can also piece together your own custom combination with a series of small containers. 

Step 3: Organize by Function

Gather like items together and designate a container for each category (adhesives and tapes in a group, stapler refills in one spot, etc.). If you’re tidying an entire filing cabinet, save the top drawer (prime real estate) for things you grab on a daily basis. “Ditch bulky packaging to take it to the next level,” advises Gill. 

Step 4: Designate a Place for Action Items

Create a station for the next morning’s duties—this can be a labeled basket, tray, or corner of your drawer that’s just for to-do lists, memos, or mail that needs to be addressed ASAP. This way, you’re not scavenging through random piles to find your current projects.

Step 5: Tie Up Loose Ends

Wrap extra charging cords with cable clips or Velcro hook-and-fasteners so you can easily see what you have (and when you need to buy something new). Plus, you won’t have to waste five minutes untangling them when you’re low on juice and late for a meeting.

And with that, you’re back in business.

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