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But not all organizational solutions are created equal: "Your desk area should be a place where you can focus," says Holly Blakey of Breathing Room Organization and Styling. "If the items you purchased to help organize are creating more physical and mental clutter, that's counterproductive."
Keeping style and practicality in mind, we combed the internet for the best options currently on the market. Our top pick is the Poppin SuperStacked Set, which offers a sleek, modern look and can be customized to suit a variety of desks.
Read on for the best desk organizers available today.
Best Overall: Poppin Super Stacked Set
Many color options
Available in a range of eye-popping color choices, our top pick is a stylish and practical solution for office setups of all kinds. The components—such as a divided silicone tray for small items, a medium-sized accessory tray, and two large document trays—can be purchased individually, giving you room to configure a setup that works best for your desk.
What makes this set so useful is that it can either be arranged as a stack or divided with the various parts distributed around your desk (or even in your drawers). The strong, glossy plastic is not only lovely to look at, but it's also resilient and easy to clean with a damp cloth. With the set, Poppin also throws in six retractable gel pens.
Best Wooden: Anthropologie Workspace Monitor Stand
More elegant than a typical monitor riser
Double double duty as an organizer
One side is closed off and less attractive
This versatile ash wood piece, which has slots for storing desk accessories, has curvy lines that give it a midcentury vibe. It can be used to raise your computer monitor about 4 inches higher, which can help prevent neck strain from constantly looking down. You can also flip it on its side to hold pens, scissors, mail, and other small documents, and the dividers can be rearranged depending on the size of your items.
Shoppers love that the stand adds a funky design element to their desk space, and a few people have given it their own creative hacks by drilling a hole in the back for charging cables or mounting it on a wall. However, one side is sealed off (presumably to keep items from sliding out) and some found it unattractive, which is something to consider if the riser isn't going to be positioned up against a wall.
Best Tray: Simple Houseware File Tray Organizer with Supplies Sliding Drawer
Trays not fixed in place
Some people just need to have all the documents accessible all the time. To help contain the paper trail, this tray-style organizer comes with five slots, each one angled upward for easy access (this also helps keep the sorter from tipping forward). The dividers measure roughly 13 by 9 inches, so they work best for letter- or A4-size paper, file folders, or notebooks; some people also use the trays to store laptops or small electronic devices like phones and chargers.
While there's no pen cup or vertical slot, the three-compartment drawer at the bottom of this organizer is big enough for writing utensils and other small office supplies. Note that the trays are not fixed in place—this would work well for those who need to reorganize the piece from time to time, but frustrated others who said they came loose when they were pulling items out, and some resorted to securing them with strong glue or zip ties.
Best for Mail: Lund London Nordic Letter Sorter
Clear front lets you easily see what's there
Some may wish it held more
Can get messy quickly
This charming letter sorter is divided into three sections and it's fairly small—about 7 inches wide by 3 inches deep, so business envelopes may stick out slightly. But there is an upside: The compact size may motivate you to sort your mail faster. It also works well for items like pads, sticky notes, and small notebooks or journals. Because it's transparent, you'll know exactly what's where, and it also blends beautifully with any type of workspace decor.
Lund London was founded by a British designer and the company is known for its whimsical items like water bottles topped with emoji faces and candy-colored furniture. Each piece they produce is guaranteed to be finished by hand. Lund London is partnered with Ecologi, an environmental organization that helps businesses fund climate actions such as planting trees and other projects.
Best With Lamp: Crate & Kids Bug Kids White Desk Lamp with Pencil Cup
Distinctive good looks
No additional color options
This adorable light-meets-pen-cup is technically a kids' item, but the spare, playful profile makes it a worthy option for adult desks, too. The base is just under 5 inches wide, so you won't have to worry about it overtaking your desktop space.
The shade can be repositioned and the lamp comes with a 4-watt G9 bulb. The on/off switch is located on the clear cord, and the dimmer is a nice feature for those times when you want a mellower mood. Unfortunately, there are no additional color choices, but the white and light wood will work in a variety of settings.
Best Cable Management: BlueLounge CableBox Mini Station
Smart, clean-looking design
Only comes in black or white
Do you have a pile of cords on your desk that is giving you a headache? Cord clutter takeover is real, thanks to the various items (phones, computers, tablets, smartwatches) that seem to always need a recharge. Lucky for you, Bluelounge has attempted to solve this problem with their CableBox Mini Station.
The premise: You'll get a box (it comes in black or white) made of flame-retardant plastic as well as a four-outlet surge protector that fits inside the box. The box has pass-through holes on both sides. There are ridges on the top meant to organize items like laptops, phones, and tablets (note that some devices may be too thick for the slots). Small holes underneath let you feed the cable through, allowing you to charge your device while it's on display.
Best Filing System: Bigso Black Woodgrain Letter/Legal File Storage Box
Rails come installed
Paperboard less durable than harder materials
Bigso is a Swedish company that dates to the early 1960s and is known for rugged, good-looking storage boxes. Blakey is a fan of these file boxes, and uses them for clients who need to get their paper in order. They come with the rails already installed, which saves time and energy. Note that some of the colors (white, graphite, light gray) come with metal hardware and labels, whereas others (black, navy, cream) have leather handles.
The boxes are made of a fiberboard that is crafted from recycled materials such as newspaper and corrugated cardboard and finished with a metal strip that not only looks nice, but also helps keep the box stable. (Bigso says these will work in basements or garages, but if you're in an area prone to flooding, you may want to consider a tougher material.) Bigso has dozens of sizes and styles available, and also makes boxes from materials like canvas and recycled paper laminate.
Best Set: Oakywood OakyBlocks Desk Organizer
Magnetic and modular
This beautiful set of trays doesn't come cheap, but the pieces have been completely handcrafted from solid oak or walnut wood by artist Mateusz Haberny in Zakopane, Poland. They're also magnetic, so they can be set up together without rattling around, or split up and used in different places. The set includes a phone holder, a tray specifically for sticky notes, and a tray for pens, as well as three plain trays (two rectangular and one square). The bottom of each piece has cork cushioning to protect your desk from damage.
If you're looking to expand your set, Haberny also sells wireless phone charging pads, headphone stands, and trays in other sizes. He offers affordable international shipping as well as discounts on multiple pieces.
Best for Drawers: ThreeByThree Seattle Shallow Metal Drawer Organizers
Fun glam look
Fits in even shallow top drawers
Metal is lightweight, so may slide around
At just 1 inch high, these trays will work in even the most shallow drawers. The fun gold tones will make you smile when you reach in to grab something. They can be stacked or stored side-by-side, and have plastic feet at the bottom to help keep them in place, although some reviewers have mentioned that they can be prone to sliding around.
They're meant to contain all those loose items that are constantly floating around messy drawers, such as pens, headphones, loose change, paper clips, and more. Need something taller? ThreebyThree also makes deeper options, which come in fun, punchy colors. First known for its magnetic strip bulletin board, this women-owned Seattle company has been producing home and office products since 1995.
If you're looking for a set that looks good, is durably constructed, and can be expanded upon as your needs change, try the Poppin Super Stacked. On a budget? Try combining the ThreeByThree Seattle Metal Drawer Organizers, which come in several different sizes and configurations, with something to keep your desktop organized, like the Simple Housewares Document File.
What to Look for in a Desk Organizer
When shopping for desk organizers, it's important to consider not only the size and footprint, but the item's capacity. If a minimalist-looking tray can only hold three pens, for example, but you prefer to have your favorite set of 12 at arm's reach, you may need a roomy pen cup or a solution for your drawer. For the footprint, use a tape measure or place a similarly sized item on your desk to get a sense of how much room it's going to need.
The material you choose will in part be determined by your decor. Clear acrylic allows you to see everything easily, but those who struggle with containing mess may not love this. Wood has a warm, elegant vibe but can be more expensive; it also can be prone to dings. Rigid plastic is easy to clean, feels modern, and often comes in bright, cheery colors. Metal mesh pieces are traditional workhorses that can last for years and have the benefit of being fairly see-through, but not everyone loves the look.
When selecting a design, think about a typical day in your workspace. Consider what things you want to be able to grab quickly, like your phone, planner, pen, or notebook, and how important it is to have an uncluttered desktop (it's not a must for everyone). Some organizers only hold a few basics, like pens and paper clips, while others can handle papers, electronic devices, and plenty of office supplies. If you have an endless stream of papers, you may want something that can keep documents sorted, or a file box that you can have close by. Some may need a charging station, but if you work at home and already have a spot for devices, you might prefer to have fewer distractions.
What do you put in a desk organizer?
The purpose of a desk organizer is to house essential tools that you would normally keep in, on, or around your desk. Think pens, pencils, tape, staplers, paperclips, thumbtacks, stamps, and whatever else you need to do your work on a regular basis. A desk organizer should prioritize items that are in constant rotation, while less frequently used items can go in a drawer or cabinet, on a shelf, or in a storage closet.
Where should you put a desk organizer?
This is a matter of personal preference. But in general, you should place the organizer on your desk so that it is within easy reach, likely on the same side as your dominant hand. Take care that the organizer doesn’t obstruct the surface area that you need for your computer, paperwork, reading materials, or desktop lighting.
How do you clean a desk organizer?
This depends on the material. An acrylic organizer can be washed with dishwashing liquid, then dried thoroughly to prevent water spots. A wooden desk organizer can be dusted with a microfiber cloth. A plastic desk organizer can be wiped with a damp sponge. Be sure to empty the organizer thoroughly and wipe off any dust or grime from items before returning them to the newly clean organizer.
How often should you organize your desk?
This comes down to a lot of factors, such as how often you're working at your desk and your actual work setup. For those who work from home or use their desk quite regularly, once a week is generally a good bet.
"Set a time each week to organize and clear space, maybe each Friday before you clock out or on Sunday night, as you plan your week ahead," Blakey says. "If you spend just 10 minutes putting things back in their homes and creating a fresh, clean space, you'll be able to focus better. If you do this on a weekly basis and it becomes part of your routine, the pile-up and chaos will be less likely to happen."
Why Trust The Spruce
Lexi Dwyer contributes frequently to The Spruce about topics like cleaning, storage, and home organization. She has worked almost exclusively from home since 2008, and one of her children attended school remotely for a year total during the pandemic, so she is no stranger to keeping office supplies, art supplies, and all the paper in line. When it comes to staying organized, she is a big fan of Bigso and Poppin products.
For this round-up, Lexi researched products that were attractive to look at and held up well based on reviewers' comments, and also tried to include companies with a focus on environmental awareness. She spoke to professional organizer Holly Blakey of Breathing Room Organization and Styling in San Francisco for tips on setting up a desk and keeping office clutter contained.