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Five Tips for (Finally!) Organizing That Desk

Aisle Planner Tips to Organize Your Desk
Photo courtesy Jen Wojcik Photography

October is all about organization at Aisle Planner, and we’re kind of in love with the fact that this gives us a great excuse to obsess over super cute organizers and scour the Container Store for hours on end. There’s no more refreshing feeling than finally organizing piles and files that have been stacking up for months. Plus, as planners, something as simple as an organized desk can ultimately help us save valuable time and keep us on track with our workflow. Today, then, we’re so excited to break down some of our favorite desk-organization tips, tricks, and products. Start sharpening those pencils now, planners, you’ll want to take notes on this one:

Perfect Your Piles

We’re not here to tell you to stop piling things on your desk—we’re realists, after all. But, if we can’t eliminate our need to pile, we can at least perfect our system. So, rather than stacking papers and files in a big, unmanageable pile, separate them into bins that reflect your workflow. Label bins or trays according to the steps you typically take in your workflow.

And, for that neverending “to-do” pile of yours, we love the idea of a bin for “Urgent” that you check and update daily; one for “Less Urgent” that you check and update weekly; and one for “Down the Road” that you check monthly. Trays with labels like “Incoming,” “Outgoing,” “Send to Client,” “Complete,” and, Ready to File” work well for contracts, mail, invoices, and bills as well.

Products we love for perfecting your piles:

Stockholm Stacking Trays: A timeless design available in countless pretty colors—try designating a different color for each of your tasks/to-do piles, so you can easily see what is what.

Frisco Stacking Document Bins: We love the super on-trend copper details and the built-in labeling space.

Pink Poppin Stacking Letter Trays: Made from durable plastic, these can get knocked around without breaking down, and we love the idea of mixing and matching bright hues to give your workspace some color.

Get Strategic With Your Space

Oftentimes, what causes our desks to be in such disarray is simply a lack of space. We love the idea, then, of putting your creativity to good use and finding space where you’d least expect it. Monitor stands are great for this—you can purchase one that both elevates your computer monitor and gives you space to stack things underneath it. The same goes for desk caddies—you can move them off of your desk when you’re in urgent need of some quick extra space.

Products we love for getting strategic with your space:

Ashwood Up-Rise! Desktop Organizer: This gives you some much-needed extra space where your monitor would normally be sitting. Plus, the sleek wood design is a sight for sore eyes.

Supply Caddy: For those times when you need to clear an extra little bit of space for those demanding design projects, simply move this off your desk and voila!

Put Accessories in their Place

The smallest things on our desk are the often most unruly. Items like chargers, cords, electronics, and accessories are hard to tame and take up valuable space. Invest in some really great organizers that keep these items out of your way, but still easily accessible—allowing you to free up more space for important paperwork (or that much-deserved glass of wine).

Products we love for putting accessories in their place:

Beautes Desk Headphone Hanger: With a super sleek (and functional) design, we love that this hanger allows you to keep your coveted headphones nearby, without taking up valuable desk or drawer space.

Hanging Cable Loft Cord Organizer: Keep your cords under control, off your desk, and out of site. 

Flexi Ties: If you don’t own a good pair of cable ties, you’re missing out on one of life’s simplest pleasures. We love that these malleable, super simple ties help keep things tamed under your desk—so you can finally say goodbye to tripping over unruly cords or getting the wheel of your desk chair caught on your charger.  

Color Code Like a Pro

When you’re ready to take your desk organization to the next level, color coding is the way to go. The key is implementing a cohesive color-coding system across the board. This means that every single thing you do related to a certain item should be marked in the color you’ve assigned to that item.

So, for example, let’s say you assign the color blue to vendor contracts. You’d then want to buy a blue paper tray for all of the vendor contracts sitting on your desk, blue file folders for contracts you’re filing away or carrying with you to client meetings, blue post-its for any vendor-contract-related notes you’re leaving yourself, blue file boxes for archived vendor contracts, etc. You can even use Mac’s file tagging feature to tag any digital vendor contracts in blue—ensuring you’re implementing your personal color-coding system in both the physical and digital world.

Once your eyes have started associating certain tasks with their designated color, you’ll find that you can remember where things are much easier and access things much quicker. It’s also a great way to keep things organized office-wide—co-workers, interns, and others assisting you with events will quickly learn where things go and where to retrieve them.

Products we love for color coding:

Poppin Products: The Container Store’s “Poppin” line is perfect for color coding. Countless acrylic desk accessories (like letter trays, file sorters, magazine holders, etc.) come in 12 different hues—ranging from soft mint to bright aqua to deep navy to striking orange.

Clear Job Jackets: These will quickly become your new best party-planning friend. They’re made to withstand constant use, work with dry-erase markers (yes, please), and are translucent, so you can still easily see which is in each, while using their color-coded edges to organize projects and paperwork according to your system.

Hanging File Folders: These colorful file folders are perfect for transitioning your new color-coding system from your desk to your file cabinets (not to mention the shades they come in are sure to brighten up your day).

Expand Your Desk

Our last tip today is perhaps the most valuable. There’s no rule that says we can’t expand our “desk space” beyond our physical desk. Wall organization systems are great for this, as are small side tables for items you don’t use as often. Look around your office—do you have an empty corner behind your desk chair? A blank wall right alongside your desk area? For convenience, you don’t want to store office items too far away from your desk, but anywhere within reasonable reach is fair game. Get creative—the more space you can free up on your desktop, the better.

Products we love for extending your desk:

Urbio System: We love this magnetic wall-organization system from the Container Store. It’s completely customizable and allows you to get everything from plants to planners off your desk and onto a nearby wall. 

Stainless Steel Magnetic Wall Pocket: Not only are these great for getting loose papers off of your work space, but they’re also magnetic—huge bonus!—so you can hang small notes, to-dos, photos, etc. on each.

 

Overall, with a little extra time and a willingness to invest in the right products, you can free up tons of much needed work space on your desk, while keeping your items über organized. It may sound like a tedious task at first, but the time you invest in organizing your desk will pay you back ten-fold when you find you’re no longer losing papers, tripping over cords, and searching for files as you rush out of the door for client meetings. So, pull out your favorite pad of post-its, put on your color-coding hat, and get down to it, Aisle Planners. Cheers, to your best year yet in organization!

About the Author

Gillian Griffith
Gillian Griffith

As Aisle Planner’s Associate Editor, Gillian knows there’s nothing as deadly as a woman with good grammar, great nails and a strong backhand (think: tennis). She is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada, where she spends the sunny days with her family, her Louisiana Catahoula pup and, her ultimate love, a 1939 typewriter. Follow Gillian on Instagram @gigi_the_girl

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