Busy people + the need for storage can all too easily equal clutter. Here's the good, the bad, and the how-to make it better from my own desk drawer experience.

The Story

Home from vacation, it didn’t take too long to discover the dreaded desk drawer that’d become a cluttered toss-all pile weeks before we left. Looks like a home organization job to me!

I took the picture above for memory's sake before digging in.

Though not as visually frightening as some, it wasn’t working out; we spent too much time with a hand in that drawer.

The good:

Organizers (the little boxes) within organizers (the drawer) work well. Most notecards are neatly stacked. Money is either in envelopes, or paper-clipped with labels.

The bad:
Some items (stapler) are on top of unrelated items (envelopes). Loose items (paper clips) have no home. A pile of used paper meant for reuse keeps growing under the envelopes because it’s easier to get to the (store-bought, i.e. not free) notecards. The larger box is made of newspaper, so its sides don’t hold up very well.

The desk-drawer clutter $0.00 solution:

What changed? Not much. Everything’s there... plus some extras!

The how-to:

First, I made some decisions: “Will I really ever use this?” Though I may, someday, want a 6.75x4” piece of paper, I’ll likely be fine with just one size. I took the largest paper and divided it in 4. Just fold and tear - no need for smooth, perfectly straight edges. I took all the other paper and tore them to the same size. Smaller scraps will become recycled paper later. I clipped the new notes together and decided not to keep more than will fit in the clip - excess will be recycled too. We won’t need to buy notecards anymore, either (frugal bonus!)

Second, I got rid of loose items. I put some paperclips and staples in the smaller box. Large items go in the new, sturdier large paper box.

Third, I combined rarely-used items out of the way. See the white box in the corner? The lid was always cumbersome when I just wanted to grab or put away something, so I tucked it and the flaps inside the box. Since I have staples and paper clips out (second step), I won’t often need their boxes, so they’re tucked away back there, too. Several cards that previously floated around the room are now stuck upright in that box.

Fourth, I oriented items so nothing important overlaps. It turns out the envelopes fit better longways, for example.

Fifth and lastly, I did a visual check. Because the colorful collections of items were all on the right side of the drawer, I switched the new notepad paper with the newspaper box. Not a big deal, but it looks a little better this way.

That’s it!

...and you?

What’s your $0 organization solution that saves you bits of your precious time here and there, time that adds up? Comment for a chance to have your tip featured here on Simple Makes! Or, reorganize your desk drawer and post the before-and-after at our flickr group.