10 Tips for Organizing Your Desk, Office or Cubicle at Work

Updated February 28, 2023

Person sitting at an organized desk with their back facing the camera

Whether your desk is in an office or a cubicle, there are steps you can take to arrange your workspace effectively. This can have a big impact on your overall performance in the office—an organized workspace can help you feel more focused and creative at work. Learning steps you can take for organizing a desk, whether you have an office or a cubicle, can help you decide what you need to do to set up your own space.

In this article, we discuss why it's important to maintain an orderly workspace, and share 10 ideas for how to organize your desk.

Related: Best Home Office Organization Ideas

How to organize your desk, office or cubicle at work

Here are 10 steps you can take to organize your desk, office or cubicle at work:

1. Empty drawers and cabinets

While organizing a desk, empty your cabinets and drawers of everything so that you can evaluate what you've been storing. Throw away anything that doesn't have a functional or aesthetic purpose. Reorganize the items that you choose to keep so you can more easily display them on your desk or store them in drawers.

Related: 7 Steps to Organize Your Paperwork and Declutter Your Desk

2. Be selective with displayed items

A plant, one or two framed photos and a paperweight are often sufficient for making your cubicle or office feel like your own. Be highly selective with the number of items that you display in your office or on your desk—too many items can become distracting. Remember, your workspace is a visual representation of your level of professionalism. It tells others that you have a strong work ethic and that success is important to you.

3. Make use of implements to declutter

One of the easiest ways to keep your items tidy is to separate them into different categories while organizing a desk. For example, you may want to purchase drawer trays, filing cabinet dividers, an inbox sorter or a cup to hold pens and pencils.

4. Get a bookshelf or filing cabinet

If you have a lot of paperwork that needs to be stored for your job, consider adding a small bookshelf or filing cabinet to your cubicle or office. If you choose to add a bookshelf to your space, divide your paperwork into different categories and then use hard-cover three-ring binders to separate your paperwork. This will make it easy to find the information you need quickly.

5. Designate spaces while organizing a desk

Once you have all of your items organized, identify the ones that need to be on top of your desk. Limit this collection to as few items as possible and then designate specific locations for each item. Take the same approach with the other items in your cubicle or office.

As you designate spaces for different items, keep the demands of your work in mind. Items that you use often should be within easy reach. The less often you use items, the further they should be from your computer and chair.

Just as you designate spaces for paperwork and filing, you should also designate spaces for writing while organizing a desk. If you often have to review paperwork or write as part of your job, you should have an open space next to your computer where you can complete those tasks without having to shift items on your desk.

Back view of a woman sitting at a clean desk at home

6. Create a space for personal items

Designate a space right next to the office door or cubicle entrance to collect personal items and trash. The area should have a shelf to place a tray for documents (more on this below), a hook for a jacket, a box to place your personal items (like an umbrella or extra pair of shoes) and a trash can.

7. Utilize inboxes and outboxes

While organizing your desk, be sure to clean out your inboxes and outboxes and utilize them for their intended purpose: separating incoming and outgoing mail and materials. Place these boxes next to the entrance of your office or cubicle so it's easy for anyone to drop off or pick up materials as necessary.

8. Purchase a labeler

A hand-held labeler can make it easier to maintain your organization efforts. By labeling binders, dividers, cabinet doors and even desk drawers, you can locate items you need quickly and easily return items to their designated locations when you're done with them.

9. Organize your cables

Keep your cables untangled by using a cable holder or a binder clip to keep them gathered and neat at your desk. You may also want to consider labeling your cords and chargers to make them easy to keep track of.

10. Keep reference documents nearby

If there are certain documents that you use often as reference materials, find a suitable location for them so they are always available to grab quickly. If you are in a cubicle, consider pinning them to the wall. If you have an office, you may want to consider adding a corkboard to the wall so you can hang these items within sight.

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More tips for staying organized on the job

  • How To Stay Organized When You Work at Home

  • How To Organize Your Day To Maximize Success

  • 14 Ways To Get Organized at Work

  • 7 Steps To Organize Your Paperwork and Declutter Your Desk

  • How To Organize Your Office (With Instructions and Tips)

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