How to Organize an Office Drawer

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How to Organize an Office Drawer

Do you want to have a more organized office drawer in your workspace?

Are you wondering where to begin when it comes to organizing and decluttering items?

Office drawers can be a challenging organizing project in the work or home office setting.

The problem doesn’t lie so much in a drawer’s small dimensions, but in its frequency of use.

In fact, it’s not uncommon for a desk drawer to be opened and closed several times a day.

So is it even possible to organize an office drawer *and* keep it neat and tidy?

Of  course it is! You just need some practical tips and know-how.

In this post, I offer several tips to help you organize an office drawer.

These tips will help you get your office drawer organized and keep your office supplies under control.


Identify which items should be stored in your desk drawer.

Before you even lift a finger, you should take a moment to identify which types of items should be stored in your desk drawer.

In most cases, the answer will likely be “office supplies.”

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to fit a stack of file folders or a large printer in a shallow desk drawer!

Which types of items do you need to store in your drawer? Think about the types of activities you perform at your desk and the types of tools you use over the course of a day or week.

You can also take a look at the items currently sitting on top of your desk or in the desk drawer itself. If you’d like, you can make a quick list of items to help your mind stay focused on the task at hand.

So, will you store pens, pencils, and markers in your drawer? How about small sticky notes and notepads? Rubber bands and paper clips? Or will it be something else, like small electrical chargers or a set of office keys?

You can take a look at my office supply checklist for more ideas by clicking here.

Remove all items from the desk drawer.

Once you’ve identified which items you’d like to store in your desk drawer, you can begin the process of removing items from the desk drawer.

You may find it helpful to have a clean, flat, and sturdy surface such as a conference room table, desk, or countertop at your disposal so you can sort and organize items.

The simple act of removing items from a desk drawer can be a particularly helpful exercise. Why is this?

Well, you get to familiarize yourself with the actual physical dimensions of the drawer, something which is woefully overlooked during the course of one’s daily work. There’s no denying the exact length, depth, and height of a drawer when it is completely empty.

After you’ve removed all items from the drawer, take a moment to clean things up by vacuuming, dusting, or wiping out the inside of the drawer.

If the drawer is broken, damaged, or otherwise needs to be repaired, now would be a good time to do so. Ensure items like ballbearings, handles, and tracks are in proper working order.

Match like items with like.

The next step in organizing your office drawer is to match like items with like. This task allows you to clearly see how many items of a particular type were in the drawer, and make organization and storage plans for the future.

All you have to do is pick up a single item and match similar items to it. If you picked up a pen, you’d set the pen aside and place other pens next to it. It really is that simple to get things organized!

Once you’re finished with that, you can move onto sorting other items, like matching paper clips with paper clips, rubber bands with rubber bands, and so on.

Declutter non-essential drawer items.

Just because you have items stored in your desk drawer now, doesn’t mean you’ll want to have them stored in your drawer in future.

Take care to declutter non-essential items from your desk drawer. These items can be items that are obviously broken or damaged, or should be relocated to a different area of the office.

Before you begin your decluttering session, you may want to round up a trash bin for garbage, a paper recycling bin for paper, and plastics recycling bin so you can quickly dispose of items.

Ask yourself the following decluttering questions:

Is this item broken, damaged, leaking, dried up, or unusable?

Dried up markers, frozen stiff tacky substance, hard-as-a-rock bottles of correction fluid, disintegrating rubber bands…these can all be safely removed from your desk drawer without a second thought.

Have I used this item in the past year?

If you haven’t used a particular item over the past year, there’s a fairly good chance you won’t use it in the coming year. Make a plan to move this item to a different and out-of-the-way drawer, storage area, or shelf.

Is the item in question still of use to me?

Do you still use the item in question in your work? If not, now’s the time to properly dispose or recycle the item, return it to its rightful owner, or move it to an appropriate storage location in your office.

Is the item a good fit for this drawer?

Going back to my first point, is the item in question a suitable size for your desk drawer? If the item is unable to properly fit inside the drawer, or if you find yourself having trouble closing the drawer with the item inside of it, you’ll have to come up with a better storage solution.

Do I have too much of a single type of item in my drawer?

Sure, you need pens to do your work, but do you need to one hundred pens sitting in your desk drawer at a single time? Aim to keep small quantities of office supplies in your desk drawer. Move any office supply excess to an office supply cabinet or other storage area.

Is the item necessary or required for my work?

If you have large quantities of personal or other items in your desk drawer, you may want to remove these items from the drawer and bring them home.

Identify practical storage solutions.

The next step in organizing your office drawer is to identify practical storage solutions.

This will all depend on how your desk drawer is constructed or built.

If your desk drawer is equipped with built-in wells, dividers, and storage compartments, you’d do well to take a quick survey.

How many compartments and sections are there? What types of compartments and sections exist?

Brainstorm which items you could potentially store in each compartment or section. For example, a small well compartment would be a great location for storing paper clips.

If your desk drawer is not equipped with built-in wells, dividers, and storage compartments, consider using existing office supply trays or containers found in your workspace.

If you have the budget for it, you may want to purchase office supply trays or containers for your desk drawer. A low-cost option is to create your own storage containers and  trays using repurposed shallow boxes, containers, canisters, and the like.

Again, you’ll want to think about the most appropriate storage location and container for each type of item in your desk.

Replace items inside the drawer.

Once you’ve finished identifying practical storage solutions, you’ll want to carefully return items back inside the drawer.

An easy way to do this is to place similar items inside the drawer at the same time.

For instance, if you have a collection of paper clips, you can simply place these in a small well or storage container inside the desk drawer.

Repeat for as many different types of items as necessary. Take your time to when replacing items in each compartment or section.

Being intentional now in organizing your drawer will help set you up for success in future.

Practice regular drawer upkeep.

It’s extremely important to tidy up your office drawer on a regular basis. If you don’t, guess what? Your office drawer will soon revert back to its previously disorganized state. The good news is that drawer upkeep doesn’t have to take a long time. Spending just five minutes to tidy up your drawer can truly work wonders.

What are some ways you can keep your office drawer tidy? You can:

Place items back in their correct storage areas.

Replace items back inside the drawer as soon as you finished using them. The longer you let items sit on top of your desk, counter, or other flat surface, the more likely it is they’ll stay in that location. Take care to place items back in their correct storage compartment or section as soon as possible.

Dispose of damaged, expired, or broken items.

There’s no sense in keeping these items in your drawer. Whenever you come across a defunct item in your travels to the office drawer, be sure to dispose of it as soon as possible. The same goes for any obvious trash, junk, or miscellaneous items that have worked their way inside the drawer.

Avoid using the drawer as a dumping ground.

Remember, an office drawer isn’t a trash bin. Before placing a new item in the drawer, ask yourself if it should truly be stored in that space. If the answer is yes, take care to create a proper storage location inside the drawer for the item. If the answer is no, you’ll want to find a different location for the item in question in your office.

How about you? How do you organize your office drawer? Which of these tips are you going to try out?  Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

Do you want help getting organized? I offer professional organizing services and organizing mindset coaching. Click here to learn more.

Want to get organized the easy-peasy way? My eBook, 31 Easy Ways to Get Organized in the New Year is filled with quick tips to help you bring more order to your space. Click here to learn more.

How to Organize an Office Drawer | Organize an office drawer with ease. Learn how to put things in order with these useful tips.
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Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 3 Smart Steps to Organizing Your Home, by clicking here.
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