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Whether you're a parent working from home or a college student in their first dorm room, there's no denying that having an organized workspace can help you feel more inspired and productive. Before you start shopping, start by decluttering your desk area and figuring out what features might help you the most.
Is your phone often low on battery? Some products now have built-in USB charging ports and slots to store devices. Are you on back-to-back video calls? Choose a caddy with a rack or hooks to display a headset. Some organizers can also be split apart and reconfigured, depending on the size of your desk.
Here, the best desk organizers that are both functional and attractive.
Best Overall: Poppin White Super Stacked
Poppin's products all have a glossy, stylish look that will actually make you want to organize your workspace. One of our favorite products is the "Super Stacked," which is a versatile organizer that, well, stacks. It comes with two document trays (big enough for file folders), a medium-size accessory tray, a handful of Gel Luxe pens and a cup in which to stash them, and a smaller silicone tray that's perfect for coins and headphones. In addition to neutral shades like white and gray, the Super Stacked is also available in cheery pastel hues like blush pink and aqua blue.
Best Portable: Savor All-In-One Desk Organizer Box
Are you constantly moving around your home during the workday? If you're never sure whether you're going to land at the kitchen table, the couch, or your patio, you need a portable desk organizer to keep near your laptop. Dubbed "The Vault," this one measures roughly 13 x 10 inches, with a tasteful fabric cover and a magnetic closure.
This organizer boasts two drawers, each of which is divided into compartments, and labels are included to help you get even more specific about where things go. Papers can be sorted using the ten acid-free vertical files—six are full size and four are half-size. You might even opt to buy one box for each of your kids and use them as homework command centers. As an added bonus, you can fold it up each evening to hide any lingering mess.
Best Splurge: Anthropologie Workspace Monitor Stand
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 four inches higher, which can help prevent neck strain from constantly looking down. You can also flip 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 it 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.
Best for Artists: Ashland Storage Desktop Carousel
Serious crafters and other artists will want at least one of these spinning, hexagonal-shaped organizers. It comes with 13 divided compartments, three drawers, elastic bands (perfect for scissors and glue sticks), and eight metal J-hooks that may work well for draping a pair of headphones. It can hold more than six pounds worth of supplies and it's made from a pressed wood board that's been painted white, although some customers also enjoyed decorating it with paper liners and other colorful accents.
Best for College Students: Aupsen Mesh Desk Organizer
Measuring approximately nine inches wide and five inches deep, this stylish mesh piece won't take up too much space on a dorm-room desk. Along with the eye-catching rose and yellow gold tones, it also comes in a more pared-down black or white. The larger slot at the back can hold a notebook or two, and the other compartments (there are five total, plus a drawer) are ideal for pens, Post-Its, and small office supplies like paper clips. The metal has a powder coating that's designed to resist rust and prevent accidental furniture scratches.
Best for Drawers: Container Store Silver Mesh Drawer Starter Kit
Do you have a junk drawer that needs to be whipped into shape? If you're someone who still hasn't been converted to the necessity of drawer organizers, this set will change your mind. It's designed for a standard-size drawer (that's 9 x 15 inches), and comes with seven small caddies: four are rectangular and larger, and three are small and square-shaped. (It's easy to see why fans of these organizers compare the setup process to a challenging game of Tetris.) Of course, if you know exactly what you want to store and how big those things are, you can also opt to build your own á la carte drawer organizer set from the Container Store's many mesh options.
Best for Documents: Simple Houseware File Tray Organizer with Supplies Sliding Drawer
Some people just need to have all the documents accessible all the time. (We're looking at you, parents of kids doing distance learning.) To help contain the paper trail, this tray-style organizer comes with five slots, each one angled upwards for easy access. The dividers measure roughly 13 x 9 inches, so they work best for letter- or A4-size paper, file folders, or notebooks. There's no pen cup or vertical slot, but the three-compartment drawer at the bottom is big enough for writing utensils and other small office supplies.
Best for Devices: Mind Reader 8-Compartment Plastic Accessory Holder
This black-and-white desk caddy, which is made from molded plastic, doubles as a portable charging station. It's aimed at those who never like to be far from their devices (which, let's be honest, is basically everyone) and comes with slots to support both a tablet and a mobile phone, indentations to help guide cords, and a three-port USB hub, so you'll never need to worry about whether your phone is running low on battery life. It measures just about eight square inches, so it doesn't have a massive footprint, but the eight separate compartments are cleverly laid out for efficient use of space.
What to Look in a Desk Organizer
Style and materials
Desk organizers are functional accessories, but they come in a range of styles to complement your existing décor. If you have a slick white standing desk, choose an acrylic desk organizer for a contemporary feel. A wood desk organizer will look at home on a wood desk, or you can create more contrast with a metallic finish such as brass or chrome. Be sure to choose a desk organizer you like looking at because it’s going to be staring right back at you on a daily basis.
Open or closed Storage
When choosing a desk organizer, you can opt for a transparent model that keeps your items on display, making it quick and easy to find what you need. But if you have a lot of stuff, or prefer a clutter-free desktop, look for a desk organizer that has drawers that are easily accessible but cover up the clutter when you don’t need it. Or split the difference and opt for a hybrid model that provides both open and closed storage.
Desk organizers come in many shapes and sizes, with varying storage capacities. Think about which essential items you want easy access to from your desktop. Maybe you’re a paperless office enthusiast who is just looking for a small organizer for a random assortment of everyday supplies, or need help storing your copious office supplies in a larger organizer that also allows you to store gadgets and act as a charging station. If you have an endless stream of papers to shuffle, select a tiered organizer with an inbox and an outbox.
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 on your desk?
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.