Minimalist Desk Organization: 8+ Tips for a Clutter-Free Workspace

Shifting your desk over a minimalist setup has a ton of advantages. It takes a little effort up front, but once you make the switch, it will be pretty difficult to go back. 

A minimalist desk setup is a desk with the minimum amount of items needed to still be fully functional. This could mean just a computer, a plant, and your peripherals, or a laptop and mouse on top of a desk mat, etc. (I added plants which are technically not needed, but minimalist desks can get dull without a little personalization).

The result of this is a super clean and airy desk setup that looks fantastic and gets the job done.

The problem here is knowing what to do with the rest of your “stuff” that you still need. In this article, we’re going to talk about some minimalist desk organization ideas that solve this issue and enable that solid minimalistic desk setup.

Ideas To Make Your Desk Organized & Minimalist Friendly

Here are some concrete ideas (most of that I use myself) that transformed my desk into a real minimalist desk setup. Let’s find a place for everything that is no longer allowed on our minimal desk.

Invest In Drawers For Under Desk Organization

The easiest way to add a significant amount of storage space that is easily accessible while you’re at your desk is by using a set of drawers.

Legroom at underneath desk

Drawers can sit under your desk and can hold a ton of stuff. Because the average desk is about 29 inches tall, you are able to have a very roomy place to organize your items. 

There are also a lot of very attractive desk drawers on the market if you are worried about aesthetics. I personally use the ALEX desk drawers from IKEA.

Drawer systems right next to you are key to having a minimalist desk. If your desk has shelves built in and no space for drawers, use baskets on those shelves to mimic the drawer.

If you have extra closet storage or knee wall storage, store the lesser-used items that you are not willing to throw away in there.

Use Drawer Organizers With Your Drawer

We need to stay organized if we want to actually maintain a minimalist desk in the long run. Otherwise, you might blame the minimalist desk setup for any inconveniences you have finding things.

Life is way more convenient and efficient when you stay organized. I dread wasting time trying to find things, everything should have a home.  

Here’s what one of my drawers + drawer organizer sets looks like. I know exactly where to go when I need something. We have a dedicated article on the best ALEX drawer inserts if you are an ALEX drawer owner.

Now that we introduced drawers, we undoubtedly need drawer organizers. If we have a huge mix of pens, pencils, staplers, etc. all floating around in our drawers, it is not going to be a convenient place to visit. It also might slowly damage the inside walls of your drawer. 

Drawer organizers segment your drawer into different sections. You can get the right drawer organizer sizes for your specific needs. There are a ton of options on Amazon.

I like to keep all my small items like pens, pencils, chapstick, post it’s, etc, in my top drawer. It has my primarily used items. If I use it often, it deserves one of my top drawers for convenience.

Larger items like books and papers go towards the bottom. This also helps your drawer stay stable as well. 

Having a system that is based on how often you use things is very helpful. It makes your desk an efficient place to work. Here’s a diagram from our article on functional drawer organization ideas.


Another organizational tip is to keep similar items in the same location. If you have a bunch of charging cables, it doesn’t make sense to keep them in three different drawers. 

When you keep similar items in the same general location, you know exactly where to look when you need something. 

Use Floating Shelves For Minimal-Friendly Storage

Shelves use the vertical space of your wall which is very space efficient. Because we want our shelves to match our minimalist desk, you only want to place a few items here.

We also need the items on the shelf to be somewhat aesthetically pleasing. We’re basically putting those items in a display area.

Floating shelves are great for displaying books you’re reading, displaying functional and cool-looking gear, like a camera, and more.

Think about things you want to keep nearby that actually are aesthetically pleasing. You can use those items as functional displays on a shelf!

Add a Desk Shelf For Functional Desktop Storage

I recently added the desk shelf below to my desk setup, and I absolutely love it. You don’t need an expensive Grovemade shelf, check out our article on the best Grovemade desk shelf alternatives.! Desk shelves are shelves that sit on top of your desk.

They add storage space and can also raise the height of your monitor to a more ergonomic level. Right below the link is a picture of my current desk setup.

Aothia Large Dual Monitor Desk Shelf
  • Comes in three wood grain colors
  • Made with real poplar wood
  • Supports up to 100 lbs.
  • 43 inch by 9.4 inch surface
  • Affordable compared to other wood desk shelves of the same size
  • Cork legs are not the prettiest
Check Price On Amazon

As you can see in the image of my desk below, the shelf helps me hide the stuff that would otherwise look pretty cluttered on my desk alone. I keep my docking station, my current book, a planner, and an extra keyboard underneath.

ultrawide monitor on desk with desk shelf

It hides all my docking station cables, hides my stream deck cable, and also gives me a top surface where I can place my other personalization items.

If I was a hardcore minimalist, I would remove the keyboard, book, and planner from my desk. But the desk shelf still would be a great addition, because it conceals all the ugly desk cables that would make my minimal desk look very sloppy.

If you want more reasons to consider desk shelves, we have a dedicated article on why desk shelves are worth it.

Consider Peg Board Organizers

A cool alternative to wall shelves is pegboard organizers. They have a ton of modularity and are a very attractive way to store your items. 

The most popular one is the IKEA Skadis. IKEA made a whole ecosystem of accessories for this pegboard which makes it very customizable and able to hold pretty much anything.

Similar to the floating shelves, these items will be for things that generally look good. They keep your items on display. Here’s an example of a pegboard on a pretty minimal desk:

If you want one that can clamp onto your desk, you can find those on Amazon. Here’s one below:

Black Clamp-on Desk Pegboard

This clamp-on magnetic pegboard attaches to your desk for easy instant organization and installs in seconds with no drilling needed. It includes built-in storage with hooks, a designer box, a hook for fat markers, a space for Post-it notes, a long shelf, and more pegboard holes for organizing.

Check Price on Amazon

Minimize Laptop Footprint

If you use an external monitor and you want to go to a whole other level of minimalism, take that laptop off of your desk. Or at least give it a smaller desk footprint.

The benefit of keeping your laptop off your desk vs storing it vertically is that even more desk space becomes available. 

Want to use your laptop as a secondary monitor? I highly recommend looking into desk-mounted laptop stands like the one below. We have an article on how desk-mounted laptop arms compare to laptop stands.

These laptop arms keep your desk space relatively untouched as it uses a super small clamping area.

MPK Desk Mount Laptop Arm

The laptop arm mount saves space, keeps your workstation organized, and promotes efficient multitasking. The 360-degree rotation feature provides complete flexibility to achieve the perfect viewing angle.

  • Low profile design
  • Gas spring actuated
  • Laptop side supports
  • 12-17" laptop compatibility
  • High cost
Check Price on Amazon

If you keep your laptop completely off of your desk, all of your laptop connections are also out of sight! It is also easier to cable manage a vertical laptop. 

Here are some ways you can relocate your laptop if you primarily use an external monitor. 

Under Desk Mount

IFCASE Under Desk Laptop Mount

This under-desk laptop holder is suitable for laptops and devices less than 38mm thick, freeing up desk space. It has anti-scratch silicone pads and a non-slip surface to protect devices.

Check Price on Amazon

Vertical Laptop Holder

HumanCentric Adjustable Vertical Laptop Stand

This wood vertical laptop stand saves desk space and has adjustable width for compatibility with most laptops and a sleek, minimalist design. The felt interior protects your device and the holder is weighted for stability and support.

  • Adjustable width from 0.5 - 1.5 inches
  • Minimalist design
  • Protective felt interior
  • Comes in leather & wood finishes
  • Silicone base is grippy
  • Pricey, but you get what you pay for
Check Price on Amazon

Wall Laptop Holder

Wall Mount Laptop Holder with Adhesive & Screw

This laptop holder is suitable for devices less than 31mm thick and has a drop-in design for easy and secure placement. It comes with screw mount hardware for heavier devices and an adhesive 3M VHB option for lighter items.

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Pro-tip when it comes to hiding your laptop, get a Thunderbolt docking station that has a dedicated power button. That way you don’t have to open your laptop to turn it on!

Of course, this only works if your laptop has a Thunderbolt port.

Consider Hidden Drawers

If you are a hardcore minimalist, you might not need a full set of drawers. A small single drawer might just do the job for the few things needed to function at your desk.

If that describes you, you can actually have a hidden drawer connected directly underneath your desk! These drawers are very low profile, and because they mount under your desk, they are hard to see. 

You can mount them slightly recessed from the front lip of your table, and they will be truly out of sight. 

To get to your drawer, just feel for the handle under the table, and pull out! Viola! Sleek and hidden storage of your essentials can’t get more minimal than this. 

VIVO 16 inch Under Desk Pull-out Drawer

This under-desk storage drawer is made of steel and provides extra space for decluttering your desk. It holds up to 11 lbs of materials and is easy to assemble and comes with a 3-year warranty.

Check Price On Amazon

Avoid Desktop Organizers!

The last minimalist organization tip I will leave you with is this: avoid all desktop organizers. Unless you pretty much have nothing else on your desk, these can very easily kill the minimal look.

Many desk organizers are very feature rich which means you can store a lot of stuff in them. The result is a very packed and distracting organizer that sits on your desk.

Distractions and crowding is the enemy of minimalism, so if you really need storage of items on top of your desk, keep it simple, like a pencil cup or something similar.

Walnut Wood Pen Holder

This walnut pencil holder has a unique geometric shape to add a touch of elegance to your desk. The natural wood grain and warm color of the walnut add a sophisticated touch to any workspace.

Check Price On Amazon

Keys To Keeping Your Desk Minimal

Only Leave Out What You Need

Rule #1 of a minimalist desk: only leave out what you absolutely need. And I mean really need. This is where we have to start.

If you’re always on the computer you probably want your monitor, keyboard, and mouse out.

Desk Mat MX Keys MX Master 3

If you need a calculator once a week or so, that does not belong on your desk 24/7. All those pen and pencil holders? You probably don’t use them all at all times. 

So go through everything that is on your desk, and question each item. Ask yourself if it is impractical to put it away after every use or not.

Minimalism is all about the absolute essentials. But don’t worry, we can have an abundance of stuff if we want. We just don’t want to show it on top of our desks. 

Toss What You Don’t Need

Most of us own things that we don’t use and don’t need. When I clean out my desk, I make a pile of stuff I can donate, sell, or toss.

If you’re not ready to part ways with something, store it elsewhere if you don’t need it at your desk. My rule is if I don’t use it in any given month, it probably doesn’t need to be near my desk.

All documents can be digitized these days so you can shred or toss originals after securing the digital copy.

Add Minimal Personalizations or Accessories

A desk setup without any personalization is a pretty bland setup. We don’t want a desk that is not inviting. That’s why I highly recommend minimalists add some personalized items to their desks.

This makes your desk unique to you and boosts aesthetics. Examples of personalizations or accessories can include wall photos above your desk, a desk plant or two, a desktop frame of your loved ones, etc.

Here’s an older image of my desk setup. You can tell I didn’t stop at the bare necessities.

BenQ E-Reading Desk Lamp Image

Manage Your Cables

A quality of minimalist setups is the minimal visual burden. In today’s world of technology where everything is connected, powered, or has a battery, cable management is critical. 

Nothing can ruin the look of a nice minimalist desk more than a ton of unmanaged cables coming out of the back. 

Check out our article on how to cable manage like a pro. Also, check out our article on how to attach power strips to your desk.

Those articles dive deep into making cables pretty much invisible on even the most cable-heavy tables. 

There are tons of cable management products on the market that can help not only hide the cable mess but also stay super organized with your wires.

If you have a lot of cables connecting to your monitor, we have a dedicated article on hiding monitor cables here.

Benefits Of A Minimalist Desk Setup

What’s the big deal with having a minimalist desk? What’s the purpose? Here’s a reminder of the benefits of having a minimalist desk.

Better Focus With Fewer Distractions

The biggest advantage of having a super minimalist desk is having a higher level of focus on your tasks. A cluttered desk is full of distractions. They might not seem like distractions to you, but they are. 

Notebooks, pens, post it’s, books, mail, bills – these are all normal items on most people’s desks. You wouldn’t consider those distractions right off the bat. After all, they are useful and might be needed.

However, every time you look around your desk, all those unrelated items start nagging for your attention.

You see bills, and you might shift your tasks to think about if you paid them or not. You see your books, and you wonder when you’ll have time to read that one at the bottom of the stack. 

All the items on your desk can take a little bit of real estate on your active thought process. Wiping them out gives you a desk that can carry a strong amount of focus. This can result in you getting more done in less time.

rgb LED backlit workspace with lights behind monitor

When I am ready to work at my minimalist desk, all I have to do is power on my computer, and put my phone on ‘do not disturb’ mode. Nothing else even has a chance to take my attention away from my task.

I always get a lot more done this way and that is why I will never go back to a non-minimalist desk setup. 

More Desk Space

When you clear everything off of your desk except the essentials, you end up having a ton more desk space. 

This is an especially valuable tip if you have a small desk. You need as much of that desk to be available as possible! 

How To Hide Your Computer Tower

With more desk space, your workspace becomes so much more versatile. Without going minimalist, you limit yourself on desk real estate. That space is more valuable than you think!

Minimalist Desks Force Organization 

When you have to minimize what sits on your desk, you have to store the other stuff somewhere convenient. This forces you to be more organized.

This is why most people with a minimalist desk don’t have a super messy storage system. Storage systems and organization go hand in hand with minimalism. 

Minimalism Forces Downsizing

In today’s world where there are 100 products for every problem we have, it’s easy to keep buying stuff that you don’t necessarily need. 

When you switch to a minimalist desk setup, you have to question every single item on your desk.

When you question every item on your desk, you quickly realize you can save money, and even get money back by selling stuff you don’t use. 

Asking the minimalist question “do I need this?” forces you to downsize, and can save you big money in the long run. 

More Aesthetically Pleasing

Last, and perhaps the strongest reason people like to go minimal is due to the huge boost in aesthetics. When you go to a model home or see real estate photos, you never see a crowded desk with a ton of office clutter.

The Best Desk Setup For Productivity

Minimalist desk setups draw attention to the details that can be missed in a normal desk setup. You can fully appreciate the few items on the desk.

The switch to minimal has a ton of benefits and is worth at least experimenting with at a minimum.

Photo of author


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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