How to Organize Desk Drawers

Drawers are essential accessories if you want to get your desk organized. No other storage system looks good and holds as much gear as a drawer set.

To maximize the convenience of drawers, you must store your items in an organized way. An unorganized drawer makes it hard to find things which can waste time and add unnecessary stress.

In this article, we’re going to talk all about the best way to organize drawers so you can find and store things quickly. These are the methods I use to organize my own Alex Drawer desk setup seen below.

dual alex drawer desk setup with herman miller sayl

Key Takeaways

  • Don’t spend time organizing items you don’t use. Instead, remove them to make your drawers less crowded and easier to look through.
  • Categorize your drawers so you know which drawer to reach for depending on what you need. 
  • Order your drawers in usage levels. Frequently used items belong in top drawers, and lesser used items belong in lower drawers. 
  • Use drawer organizers and inserts so things stay in place when you open and close those drawers.

Before Your Organize Those Drawers

Before organizing those drawers, consider the following pointers that will make things a little easier.

Remove Items You Don’t Use

First, we need to purge items that we don’t use often. 

By reducing the amount of things we have in our drawer, we reduce the amount of things we have to organize and sort through. A drawer that’s organized with fewer items is easier to navigate.

Prioritize Your Drawers

If you have more than one drawer, prioritizing those drawers can make a world of difference. This simply means organizing them so that your top drawer has the most frequently used items, the second drawer has less used items, and so on. 

Having your most frequently used items in the top drawer puts them in the easiest place to access.  This means you will spend less time looking through drawers with this method. 

Depending on what type of drawer set you have, the top few are typically the easiest to access. As you get closer to the bottom drawers, that’s when they become a little more out of the way.  

These are small differences in convenience, but if you access your drawers often enough it makes a huge difference throughout a full day.

Categorize Your Drawers

Prioritizing drawers should be combined with another method that helps with being organized and efficient. This is the method of categorizing your drawers.

Giving each drawer a specific category of items has helped me always reach for the correct drawer.  For example, most electronics can live in one drawer, office supplies in another, mail or bills in the third, and so on. 

You will have to adjust this method based on your drawer set. For example, if you have large drawers towards the bottom (like the IKEA ALEX drawers) you don’t have the option to put large items in the top slim drawers. 

My camera gear for example goes in my first large drawer. This happens to be the third drawer down but is the most convenient of all my large drawers.

I have a double ALEX drawer desk, so that means I have ten drawers in total! That’s a lot of stuff. Combining the frequency organization method and category organization method, I have no trouble navigating through my many desk drawers. 

My major categories are the following:

  1. General high-use items
  2. Electronics/cables
  3. Camera gear
  4. Additional peripherals
  5. Books

The general supplies and electronics are in the topmost drawers as I use those items the most. My lower drawers have items I less frequently use but need at a moment’s notice. 

Methods To Organize Desk Drawers

The easiest way to compartmentalize drawers will be to use off-the-shelf drawer organizer inserts and trays. If you’re on a budget, focus on organizing your most frequently used drawers. Doing this will make a big difference without spending much cash.

On a related note, if you have ALEX drawers from IKEA, we already compiled the best drawer inserts for those. Also, here are the interior measurements for ALEX drawers

Before shopping for drawer inserts, do a quick measurement of the interior dimensions of your drawers. Keep these measurements handy so you can know if inserts will fit or not. 

When shopping for drawer inserts, think about what items you want to store and organize. Find an organizer that compliments your drawer contents.

Another good approach with drawer organization is to only get compartments for the small things in your drawer. The large stuff usually has no problem staying in place.

Drawer Inserts

Drawer inserts are my favorite way to organize desk drawers. They come in all shapes and sizes so you will have no problem finding something that works for you. 

Interlocking Drawer Inserts

Masirs Interlocking Drawer Organizer Bins

Keep your drawers clutter-free with durable, easy-to-clean interlocking bins. Versatile for organizing various items, these high-quality plastic bins offer a customizable solution for any space.

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The inserts above lock into each other, so they stay connected together. Stuff always moves around in drawers with constant opening and closing motions. These help everything stay in place. 

They come in all black or all white to fit your drawer aesthetic. They also have a bunch of different sizes to accommodate all types of items. These have a height of 1.9 inches, making them ideal for shallow-depth drawers. 

Felt Organizer Inserts

Felt Drawer Organizer Tray, 8 Pack

Organize your drawers with this rectangular tray made of felt material that maintains its shape and prevents sliding. With 8x felt drawer organizers in 4 sizes, you can fit and nest them within each other to store almost everything in drawers.

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I love having soft materials to hold and organize my items, which is why I use a set of felt organizer inserts. This critically keeps the noise down when you open and close your drawers.

With these felt organizers, everything is on a soft fabric surface, so the noise and clatter are pretty minimal. I also like the fabric look compared to plastic.

Felt inserts are a bit more awkward to clean compared to hard plastic inserts, but that’s a minor inconvenience for me as I rarely clean them. These come in at 1.8 inches in height, so they will be the most compatible drawer insert on this list due to their low height. 

Clear Organizer Inserts

SMARTAKE 13-Piece Clear Drawer Organizers

The drawer organizers come in 5 sizes and 13 pieces, allowing for customizable combinations to suit your specific needs. Made of durable, non-slip material, these stackable trays are ideal for organizing various items in different-sized drawers.

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If you prefer clear containers in your drawers, this is another variety pack that just gets the job done. These have non-slip feet that keep the inserts in place in your drawer.  They come in a little taller at 2.2 inches. 

Drawer Dividers

Now that we have the inserts out of the way, there is another drawer organization method that is worth talking about. That is drawer dividers! 

These are little wall systems that can be set up in your drawers and are fully customizable! Because these aren’t open containers in your drawer, you have some extra vertical space!

Space Aid Bamboo Drawer Dividers

SpaceAid Bamboo Drawer Dividers

Create customized drawer organization with our bamboo dividers and inserts, featuring 30 label stickers for easy identification. These expandable dividers are suitable for most drawers and stay in place with a sturdy, non-slip design.

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Space aid offers a lot of bamboo divider options. They are typically a bit taller than the drawer inserts we covered. For example, the one linked above comes in at 2.5 inches tall. 

This set comes with four main expandable dividers. Those main dividers have slots where you can place additional dividers. There are many slots, so you get a very customized layout! 

Always check the expanding size range to ensure they are compatible with your drawer’s interior dimensions. 

Practical Comfort High-End Aluminum Dividers

Practical Comfort Adjustable Drawer Dividers

These dividers are highly adjustable and easy to install, providing long-lasting and adaptable organization for any drawer.

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If you have a higher budget, these dividers are much higher quality and have a much larger customizability range. 

They can interface with different types of drawer walls, and have almost infinite adjustability. That is due to using aluminum rails that have slots along the entire length! 

There are also over 5,000 reviews, so this is an option many people go after. There are a bunch of different configurations that this product comes in so you can choose the correct one for your specific drawer situation. 

Before You Go

Organizing drawers made our ultimate guide to a productivity-focused desk setup, so we put a lot of weight on this organization topic. Also, check out our article on organizing deep drawers if you have that challenge as well.

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I'm a big time workspace enthusiast who is constantly experimenting with my setup. Sharing along the way to help people make their own desk setups more functional and inviting, whether it be for productivity or play!

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