Tiny Desk, Big Impact: Mastering Small Space Organization

Small desks can feel pretty restricting in more ways than just size. A small desk means less room, which can in turn make things more crowded and easily unorganized. 

Because nobody actually enjoys an unorganized desk, we’re going to talk about actionable ways you can effectively organize your small desk today! Not even today – right now! 

These are concrete ways you can organize your small desk and more importantly, keep it organized. 

Follow these steps and you will find you have more room at your desk, have better focus, and just have a great looking desk overall. We’ll also end this article with some small desk inspiration so you can visualize what’s possible in a small space! 

Let’s get into it.

Key Takeaways

  • The biggest results will come from removing items from your desk that you don’t use daily. This cuts down on what you actually have to organize in the first place.
  • Combine the following three ideas to get the absolute most out of a small desk setup. 

Why It’s Worth Being Organized

First, a quick note on maintaining your organized desk after you follow these methods. 

One thing that has helped me keep my desk organized over a long time span is actually believing it’s important. We are more likely to do tasks that are important to us. 

We don’t have to ‘trick’ ourselves into believing it’s important though. It actually is! Here are the three main benefits I personally experience every day from having an organized desk. I’m sure the benefits will hold true for you as well. 

Also, don’t just take my word for it. Many medical institutions talk about health benefits of being organized as well. 

Better Focus & Less Distractions

If I had a ton of stuff on my desk, I would never get anything done. That’s why my desk looks like this. Simple and pretty minimal. 

34 inch ultrawide monitor on ikea alex desk

I make a point to keep my desk clear of non-critical items besides my planner. My planner just has a list of things I need to get done. 

If instead of a simple list, I had all those tasks at my desk, I would easily get overwhelmed by the visual clutter. 

I glance at my planner, get to work, and nothing else is distracting me or fighting for my attention. No mail, old coffee cups, trash, nothing. 

Never Need To “Find” Things

When you are organized, you make your life more efficient. You actually know where everything is! You have a place for your pens, a place for your cables, etc. 

The unorganized version of myself in a parallel universe is going to spend a ton of time throughout the day looking for an AA battery, an old flash drive, or whatever else.

Meanwhile, I spend zero time “finding” things. I just know where they are. As a result, my day just goes smoother and I can get more done. 

Your Desk Becomes Inviting

The last reason that has been increasingly important for me is that an organized desk is more inviting. Especially on those hard days where you just don’t want to start. 

Having a clean workspace ready to go can make a big difference. 

I like my desk setup so much that I don’t really work with my laptop on the couch anymore. I love the organized high functioning workspace I crafted. 

If you’re interested, check out my desk setup, and how I recommend people go about making a highly productive desk setup

Now let’s get that small desk organized so you can experience the same benefits ASAP!

Go Minimal & Remove Clutter

The first step in getting more organized is finding out what you actually need at your desk. By “actually need”, I’m talking about things you use every week or so. 

When we start removing things from our desk, we reduce the number of things we have to actually organize! 

Categorize everything at your desk as the following:

  • Used every day
  • Used every week
  • Used every month
  • Used every few months/year

Anything a month and beyond should be placed elsewhere. Small desks won’t do a good job of holding things that are used infrequently. 

Of course, don’t remove those items that just make you happy like desk plants and such. Those are important for keeping that desk inviting. 

Use your best judgment. Just keep in mind we need to optimize what we actually use at our desk to make the most of the limited space. 

Things used less frequently might be better off in a nearby cabinet or something similar. Super infrequently used items should probably go in storage. 

Now you should have fewer items to actually organize on your desk.

This starts to get into the minimalism desk setup thought process. If minimalism interests you, check out our article on our guide to minimal desk setups. They are very satisfying desk setups. 

Before We Actually Organize

Before we organize, we have to be a bit thoughtful to make the most of our organization efforts. Just being organized doesn’t necessarily translate to efficiency.

For example, if you use a set of pens every day, it won’t make sense to put those in the furthest drawer from your desktop. 

We want to keep things that are used frequently closer than things that are used less frequently. I made this graphic for our article on drawer organization and it illustrates this idea pretty well. 

How-To-Organize-Desk-Drawers-1

This doesn’t just go for drawers. We are going to touch on a lot of organizational tools for smaller desks and keeping this in mind will keep your organized desk much more functional. 

Go Vertical

Small desks are limited in their horizontal space. That doesn’t mean you can’t expand your organizational solutions upwards! Here are some easy ways to use that vertical space. 

Use Shelves

Shelves are easy ways to make more space available to you. Some shelves don’t even require drilling into your wall studs if you don’t plan on adding a lot of load. 

Here’s an example of shelves that can free up some serious desk space and actually look good. This set of floating shelves come in three different colors depending on your desk setup and have no visible brackets. 

They also hold up to 20 lbs each! . 

AMADA HOMEFURNISHING Floating Shelves Black, Wall Shelves with Invisible Brackets for Bedroom, Bathroom, Living Room, Kitchen, Set of 3 - AMFS07

Grid/Pegboard Wall Organizers

We have an entire article dedicated to these items. If you haven’t heard of pegboard organizers, check out our dedicated article here. Pegboards are a perfect organization pairing for a small desk if you have a free wall. 

These are organizers that make serious use of your vertical wall space. IKEA makes the best one with a very large modular ecosystem of compatible parts. They have hooks, containers, trays, baskets, you name it. 

Check out the IKEA pegboards here. They come in a few different colors and can hold pretty much anything under the weight limit.

If you want the best Amazon alternative, check out this option:

Keepo Pegboard Combination Kit, 4 Pegboards and 14 Accessories Modular Hanging for Wall Organizer, Crafts Organization, Ornaments Display, Nursery Storage, 22" x 22", White | Peg Board
  • Organizer Your Home In Style: This pegboard for wall combination kit is versatile for many areas of your home. The pegboard display is great for wall organizing, craft...
  • Easy To Install: The combination set of our panel pegboard is high load-bearing and can hold up to 20 lbs, or more if secured with nails. With this white tool storage,...
  • Creative Combination: With our wall board organizer, you can set your pegboards up in a variety of ways for different needs. The combination set contains 4 pegboards and...
  • Life Time Guarantee: Please feel free to tell us what you think and if you come across any damages, we will replace it for free.
Check Price on Amazon

Use Organizational Tools

Now that we used some vertical space, let’s talk about ways we can organize things back at our desk. Some of these solutions are geared toward organization, and others are geared toward space savings. 

The space saving tools will give you more usable space at your desk!

Monitor Shelf

A monitor shelf does a couple of things very well. 

First, it lifts your monitor to a more natural and ergonomic viewing height. Second, it gives you a concealed place to keep frequently used items right in front of you. Not to mention this also hides those cables very well. 

We compare monitor arms directly to monitor shelves in this article.  

The downside with this option is that it does take up some desk space. But they come in all shapes and sizes so you can get one that is the right size for you. Here are some examples that will work well with small desks:

2 Tier Compact Monitor Stand

Elevate your monitor with this ergonomic and stylish stand riser made with MDF wood. With cable management slots, a cell phone holder, and ample storage space, this stand keeps your desktop tidy and organized. Plus, it's easy to assemble and includes soft rubber feet to protect your desk.

Check Price on Amazon

Attached Drawer Or Dedicated Set

If your small desk doesn’t have drawers, you still have options! We have an entire article on ways to organize desks without drawers

You can easily add drawers with either a sleek and simple clamp on set, or a compact set that lives nearby. 

Here is an example of a sleek and minimal drawer attachment that is perfect for a small desk:

Hidden Under Desk Drawer Organizer
4.0

This desk drawer attachment is perfect for organizing your desk and saving space. With strong self-adhesive, it can hold up to 11lbs. The larger capacity can hold a variety of items, and it's easy to install without needing to drill into your desk.

Check Price on Amazon

And here is a very compact set of drawers if you have a bit of room under your desk or right next to it. 

Laura Davidson Furniture Stockpile 3-Drawer Mobile File Cabinet, Commercial-Grade, Pre-Assembled (White/Orange)

Letaya File Cabinet, 3 Drawer Filing Cabinets for Home Office with Lock Mobile Under Desk Fully Assembled Cabinet (White)
  • 【 Easy Assemble】: You will receive a Full-Assembled Metal File Cabinet + 5 pieces of wheels.
  • 【Large Storage Space】Letaya file cabinets designs with 3 utility drawers,The top two drawers can store office supplies (top with storage tray),the bottom deep drawer...
  • 【Anti-rollover Mobile Cabinet】Metal vertical file cabinet with lockable 5 wheels and 360° rotation caster wheel design easier to move while prevent tipping ,the...
  • 【Privacy Security】Letaya filing cabinet security lock system,1 lock secures all three drawers, comes with 2 keys for your locking ,Anti-tilt mechanism allows only one...
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Under-Desk Storage

If you have any space under your desk, see if one of the following storage solutions would fit. 

These can be paired with baskets or containers to keep smaller items organized and within reach.

Greensen 3 Tier All-Metal Rolling Cart, Laundry Office Bathroom Storage Organizer Cart with Wheels, Easy-Carry and Assembly Mesh Trolley Cart with Practical Bucket and Hooks, Slide-Out Narrow Shelf

HEOMU Printer Stand with Storage Bag, 2 Tier Under Desk Printer Cart with Wheels, Wood Desktop Printer Table Organizer for Fax Machine, Copier, Scanner
  • 【Under Desk Printer Stand】The industrial printer holder features in 2 tier storage shelf, which gives your more storage, which is a good helper for your desk...
  • 【Printer Cart with Wheels】: The printer stand with storage comes with 4 heavy duty 360° rolling wheels, you can easily move the under desk shelf , keeping your item...
  • 【Desk Printer Stand】: The under desk printer stand comes with 4 adjustable feet pads, you can put the printer stand on desk, or used it under desk printer cart,...
  • 【Easy to Assemble】This printer cart with storage is easily assemble in few minutes, comes with detailed Instruction,You can assemble the 2 tier printer stand with...
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Keyboard Tray

If you like the idea of giving yourself more usable desk space, consider a clamp-on keyboard and mouse tray! We have a dedicated article on making these keyboard trays clamp onto thick desks

These free up a good amount of table space which means you will have more of your small desk surface available to you for writing things down or other activities that need some free desk space. 

These trays can slide in and out so you can easily put them out of sight when not in use. A very clean solution! Also, no drilling is required, amazon has options like these that simply clamp on. 

VIVO Under Desk Pull Out Keyboard Tray

This under-desk keyboard tray saves desk space and holds your keyboard, mouse, and small accessories below your desk. It easily slides in and out, extending a maximum of 8.5" from the edge of your desk. The tray is attached with C-clamps that hold everything in place and are easily adjustable. (The tray is not compatible with desktops that have beveled edges.)

Check Price on Amazon

Monitor Arm

Another space saver for your small desk is to get rid of the factory monitor stand. We touch on this in our article on maximizing desk space with multiple monitors.. The factory monitor stands are typically way more bulky than necessary. 

When you have a small desk, you can’t have these monitor stands taking up such a huge chunk of usable space. 

Monitor arm with 27 inch 4k monitor

Monitor arms use mounting holes behind your monitor and give it a much smaller base that clamps onto an edge of your desk. Way more space efficient. 

If you don’t have monitor holes, here’s how you can still mount your monitor

I’ve used monitor arms for a while now, and they give any desk more space and just a better look. Here’s an affordable example on Amazon:

North Bayou Monitor Desk Mount

This monitor mount is universal and fits most 17''-30'' monitors. It has a durable gas spring system for easy positioning, supports C-clamp or grommet installation, and improves overall well-being by creating a comfortable viewing angle for work or gaming, reducing strain on the spine, neck, and shoulders.

Check Price on Amazon

Monitor arms are the key to our article on fitting dual monitors on even the smallest desk setups. As you would guess, they also are important for small triple monitor setups.

Use The Two Minute Rule Daily

I picked up this tip from James Clear from his book

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

The goal here is to just set aside two minutes to do a habit you would like to build every day. It’s a super simple way to approach desk organization, and makes it very sustainable.

The idea is you may carry on after two minutes, but just do two minutes and you are good for the day. 

The great part of keeping your desk organized is that cleaning up a day’s worth of clutter typically just takes a few minutes. We’re not very far off from what the two minute rule would require. 

Putting aside two minutes at the end of the day to just pick up your desk will pay huge dividends in the long run. 

Remind yourself that it’s very quick and simple, especially when you have the organizational tools we talked about working with you, not against you. 

Also remind yourself about the strong benefits of being a bit more organized, it’s a no brainer that this is worth 2 minutes. 

Organized Small Desk Inspo!

To finish off, here are some great videos on super tidy small desk setups. You can tell they have used tips we talked about in this article to get their setup looking nice and organized.

Photo of author

Dasun

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!