Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Julie's Desk Dilemma

Wow! My first request! Julie has an organizational issue and asked for my advice and help. I qualified to give organizational help? Probably not. Will I do my hardest to give some useful suggestions? Absolutely!!

Here is Julie's message to me:

I am very anti-clutter. I like everything to have a home and I purge on a regular basis. It actually drives DH crazy. :) However, the one problem area in my home is my desk. My desk/office used to be in our spare bedroom, but we have cleaned it out for our next little project (a baby...hopefully that day will come sooner rather than later). So now my desk is in a corner of the living room. It's a much smaller desk than I was using so it gets covered up with papers a lot quicker. This desk also does not have a filing cabinet. The desk in DH's office has a filing cabinet that I use for non-everyday things, but his office is upstairs and I am banned from going up there during the day (he works at night so sleeps up there during the day). So....I would love some ideas on how to keep my desk organized. I definitely need an inbox-outbox type system to keep all my to-do items in one place. Just something to keep it more streamlined. I would appreciate any ideas you have!!!

Thanks, Julie
(After further discussions, she also told me that the drawers are already being used for things I haven't mentioned below)


Since it seems as though this will be somewhat of a permanent situation for you, this needs to be a less than temporary solution. If a new desk were in order, I think this guy from Pottery Barn would suit all your needs!! Not only does it have perfect areas for organizing all the necessary desk items and plenty of file storage, but with a flip of the desk, all the clutter is hidden!

But at $800, that might not be in the budget, especially if you are hoping for a mini-Julie or mini-Julio to arrive sometime soon. But the desk you have now has great bones, and is completely workable. My thought it to focus on a few things for the desk.

1. Writing Utensils. And I see that stuffed cup on the desk. Purge that baby! I always like to do a run through of ours and make sure they all write (reminds me I should do this, it got skipped in the office cleaning a couple weeks ago). There really isn't a need for a TON of those, so streamline it a bit. Although, I'm not going to twist your arm, if you really like all of them, and they work, keep them! :)

2. To-File. Simple as that. I'm not a file it every day kind of gal, so I have a major appreciation for a to-file folder, cubby, whatever. However, commit to one day each week to actually file the items. Since the filing cabinet is in a non-accessible area for you during the day, give yourself a time frame where you can access it and make it a priority to do it! Although, I would highly recommend setting up as many items as possible online. Not only does that say hello eco-friendly but also good-bye chore of filing! Since you are at odds with your paper storage, this is an especially great option for you!

3. To-Do. A spot for all the paper reminders of to-dos. Bills, invitations to RSVP, registrations, etc. all need a place to go. A similar folder, tray, etc. like the to-file section would be ideal. Again, try to give yourself a day of the week to go through these. Tackling these at least once a week should keep you on top of everything without incurring late fees or even worse...RSVPing late- eek ;)

4. Odds & Ends. For me this includes things like gift cards, stamps, membership card reminders and paper clips. A nice little drawer to conceal all that would be perfect and a couple drawers to keep it better organized is even better.

So how do we achieve this? Well we go shopping of course! I've included a few products below that would definitely suit your needs. Some are expensive, some are cheap, although usually the former is a more attractive set, but overall, there isn't an item on here that I wouldn't welcome to my desk! Just keep in mind that your desk has now become part of an area that your guests see, and investing a little bit extra might go a long way! Each of the photos are clicky and will take you to the product.

This attractive set not only will keep you organized, but it says, "Hey man, I have some style when I work!" I would leave out the photo book end piece on the left, but otherwise, I love this grouping!
This piece could easily solve the issue of not having access to the other filing area on a daily basis. If you can make room the top drawer for utensils and the little odds and ends, this could be a one stop shop!
I like this next little guy because of just that, it's little. But depending on just how much traffic the desk sees, this could be a completely suitable option.

Another great one stop shop. I'd use the top part for to-do items so they are always visible and then the second portion for to-file items. The bottom drawer could be for writing utensils and the two drawers could hold the odds and ends I discussed up there. It would provide a nice streamlined look too!

Overall, the key to this is to be conscious of what you are putting on the desk. I know mine is a catch-all for sure, and it doesn't help that I am temporarily working from home. But try to stop and think a second before setting something on the desk. Should the pile at least be separated into your to-file and to-do folders? Does this really belong on the desk? Hopefully my few tips and suggestions help, you'll have to let me know how it goes!

And to the rest of you, maybe you grabbed a few ideas here. Perhaps you have a different organizational nightmare. What me to try to help? You can always email me with requests, I'm happy to try and tackle the issue!


  1. My personal suggestion due to the very small work area of the desk top itself...

    Wall rails

    Hanging baskets for said wall rails

    Saves space for things like pens, scissors, odds and ends. Cute too!

  2. Molly, you ROCK! Thank you so much! I especially like the part where you suggest going shopping. I think I'll show that part to DH :)

  3. What a gorgeous desk, not very affordable your right! I love that first set of white organizers... may have to look into getting those!

  4. Great advice! Funny enough our guest bedroom/my office is in the same situation. I'm decorating it still and a baby is several months out of the picture but I wanted to start thinking about where I would work since my office would become the future baby's room.

    I too have a small space in our den so I've already been looking for desks that would fit there and hide any paperwork. I love that Potterybarn desk and I've been looking for something similar at thrift stores but haven't found one yet.

    Thanks-I felt like this post was for me in a way too. ;)



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