Creative Desk Storage Ideas When You Think All Is Lost

desk storage ideas

The digital age came with a few promises it may have failed to keep. For office workers, in particular, this new era of cloud computing was supposed to mean less desk clutter. And yet, clutter still manages to pile up on even the most manicured desks. There’s still hope, even for those with limited desk space. You can consider implementing one of several useful desk storage ideas that can help you declutter and salvage what’s left of your sanity.

Why You Desperately Need Desk Storage

An overwhelming lack of desk storage is a very real problem. If you shop for desks at stores like Staples, Office Depot, or even Amazon, you’ll find many popular modern office desks completely lack storage space.

minimal office desk no storage

Modern desks are usually designed with a visual appeal but with minimalist functionality. However, that sleek modern design often ignores the pressing space needs common in most offices. Your desk is likely to be home to more than just a computer and a cup for holding pens. You may also have a printer and a scanner, a stapler, office knick-knacks, and reams of important documents regularly flowing onto your desk.

It’s still possible to buy office desks with drawers and storage space. Yet you’ll find more traditional office desks often cost much more than some modern designs. As a result, your best option is to combine a low-cost modern desk style with a variety of desk storage add-ons.

There are four key actions to take to help improve your desk storage:

  1. Declutter your desk (prior to getting storage)
  2. On-surface desktop storage
  3. Under desk storage
  4. Over desk storage / above desk storage

There are simple desk storage solutions you can implement that will give you additional storage on top of your desk, under your desk, or over/above your desk. Which you opt for may depend on the size and layout of your office desk, as well as your office desk location and setup.

1. Necessary Step: Declutter Your Desk Before Getting Storage

While Marie Kondo may be a bit too aggressive in getting rid of items sometimes, she has a very good point about decluttering. Her method involved decluttering by category first instead of just wholesale throwing away anything and everything you see. Her decluttering strategy uses five categories: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and sentimental items.

Most likely, you don’t have too many piles of clothes lying on your office desk, but you may have many other items that fit into Kondo’s other categories. Our Marie Kondo-inspired decluttering categories for office desks include:

It’s possible that your office desk has the space you need, but it’s hidden under a mountain of clutter you don’t need. Additionally, you’ll have a hard time putting any desktop storage onto your desk if you haven’t spent some time decluttering it first. We won’t point any accusatory fingers, but we’re office people. We’ve seen some pretty cluttered desks filled with items that could probably be relocated or tossed out to make better use of space.

cluttered office desk

As you declutter, go through each category of items to determine what you need and what you don’t need, as well as which items you regularly use and which items you touch too infrequently to justify keeping on your regular-use desk versus keeping in storage somewhere.

For example, you may have a printer/scanner on your desktop, but you may find yourself only using it once in a blue moon. It could be an item to store away in a closet somewhere that you only bring down when you absolutely need to print or scan. Alternatively, you could consider moving the printer under your desk if it’s a regular-use item that’s taking up valuable desktop space.

The same is true regarding paper documents. Few documents need to have a permanent place on your desk. Limited-used documents should be tossed if they’re no longer useful to you, while important documents you need for later reference can be filed away. You may want to consider using multiple filing systems to make it easier to access regular-use documents, but you probably don’t need a permanent stack of documents taking up space on your desk.

desk stack of papers

Once you’ve decluttered, you’ll want to consider which of the following desk storage options best suit your office desk layout.

2. Consider a Few Desktop Storage Ideas

You should consider the entire surface area of your desk to be valuable real estate. If you spend a significant amount of time at your desk, everything there should be items or materials that you use often, or that you need quick access to when necessary.

There are a few desktop storage ideas that can help you use your desktop surface more efficiently.

Use a Monitor Stand

Although laptops are growing in popularity, desktop computers still play a large role for offices. Whether you have an all-in-one or a traditional desktop with a tower and a monitor, you should strongly consider using a monitor stand.

desktop monitor stand

This is one of the best desk storage ideas for your desktop. Why?

Monitor stands can increase your usable desk space by up to 50 percent (depending on the size of your desk). The available space below the monitors can store various office supplies and equipment.

Office monitor stands can also place your monitor at a more ergonomic height and angle. That’s a fringe benefit, but an important one if you find yourself sitting at your computer for long hours.

Use an Office Supply Organizer

Office supplies, such as pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, staplers, and post-its, can easily take up a large amount of space on your office desk. Even if your desk has drawers, just shoving all of those items into a draw may clear up desktop space, but might not be an efficient use of your drawer space.

You may want to consider a supply organizer, such as supply caddy. Some sit on top of your desk with various small compartments for different types of supplies. Others are designed to hang over the top of your desk but within easy reach. Whichever you choose, a supply caddy can significantly reduce the amount of clutter on top of your desk, and make any desk drawers you do have more useful.

Use a Paper Tray Organizer

One of the most popular desktop storage ideas for offices, paper tray organizers are a good way to manage your paper clutter. You’ll want to get rid of any documents you don’t need instead of just shifting them over to your paper tray organizer, as paper tray organizers can also get overly cluttered.

paper tray shelf organizer

You’ll want to be very selective regarding which type of paper tray organizer you use. It’s best to opt for metal over plastic, and you may want to avoid the stackable plastic paper trays. These plastic trays are prone to breaking at the connecting joints, making the tray unusable.

3. Consider a Few Under Desk Storage Ideas

The area under your desk may be one of the most underutilized spaces for office storage. You can maximize that space and still make sure there’s plenty of room to move your feet around without running into anything or knocking anything over.

Keep in mind that the area under your desk may be underutilized, but still space-limited. You may need to be extremely selective regarding the type of under desk storage you use.

Traditional Filing Cabinet

A traditional filing cabinet may be just what you need under your desk, depending on how your desk is constructed. Many modern office desks have enough space to easily fit a small filing cabinet underneath with room to spare.

under desk filing cabinet

The benefit of a traditional filing cabinet is that it can free up space on your that’s currently occupied by stacks of papers. It’s also a great alternative to paper filing trays on top of your desk. You can also easily reach under your desk and into your filing cabinet to get important documents without having to move across the office.

Hanging Storage Containers

If your office desk has no drawers at all, hanging storage containers are a good, quick way to create easily-reachable drawer space. The main compartment may be secured underneath your desk with screws or may have an attachment that latches onto the top of your desk.

under desk storage hanger

There are different types of hanging storage containers. Some have drawer compartments, and others use a completely open design that’s good for paper filing.

Cable Tray Organizers

Cord management can not only help clear up desk space but also improve the look of your working environment. If you’re not sure how to organize your mess of wires, a cable organizer tray may be the way to go.

under desk storage cable organizer

There are numerous styles and types of cable organizer trays and boxes. Many attach to your desk and hang over the side to help hold wires securely in place, but also out of sight. Others are designed to sit on your desk but to hold your wires in a secure location but still out of sight.

Under desk headphone holder

If you regularly use headphones at your desk, you may end up leaving them on top of your desk when not in use. Instead, you can install a headphone holder under your desk.

under desk headphone hanger idea

This simple hook-like attachment hangs under your desk to hold your headphones. You can place it within easy reach to keep your headphones out of sight, but accessible when you need them. This is one of our favorite desk storage ideas, especially if you use headphones at work often.

4. Consider a Few Above/Over Desk Storage Ideas

If you need good office storage but don’t want anything on top of or under your desk, you may want to consider adding storage space above your desk. There aren’t many options here, but what does exist may just want you need.

Wall-mounted shelving

You may want to consider adding wall-mounted shelving above your office desk. This is a great option for anyone working through a home office where this kind of installation is more possible.

above desk storage shelving

Wall-mounted shelving is far less limiting than desktop or under desk storage. You can install shelving that’s as large or as small as you want. You’ll also be able to create shelving that fits with your style and visual aesthetics that you want.

Alternatively, you may also want something a bit less permanent. In that case, you may want to install adhesive-mounted shelving or wall hooks. Note that this type of wall-mounted shelving will have very low weight limits. Additionally, adhesive mounts can come loose over time, as well as under certain environmental conditions (such as high heat or humidity). If you do go this route, make sure your valuable computer equipment is not directly under anything you mount on the wall.

Desktop Bookcase (or Standard Bookshelf)

These options may be one to explore if you’re not comfortable using or can’t use any form of wall-mounted storage.

Desktop bookcases sit on top of your desk on four legs, with the main compartment offering shelving space above your desk. This type of furniture is often designed to take as little desktop space as possible, but note that, by design, it will have to take up some space on your desk. Depending on how you use it, however, it may be a huge space saver compared to other forms of desktop storage.

Since we're talking about bookcases, it makes sense to mention using a standard bookshelf. (Even though it's not considered above desk storage). This is one of the tried-and-true desk storage ideas. You really can't go wrong with adding a standard bookshelf on the side of your office desk. 

standard bookshelf desk storage

Finally, Remember to Use Your Desk Storage

Once you’ve given your desk the “Marie Kondo” treatment, you’ll be able to more easily utilize the desk storage ideas we’ve listed above. All that’s left is the hardest part: remembering to use your desk storage in the first place.

Try making your desk storage a regular part of your daily activities. For example, you can try to spend a few minutes each afternoon putting away items into their proper storage compartments.

If your desk is starting to look cluttered again and you can’t find space, you may want to reevaluate how you’re using your current storage. And never hesitate to donate or recycle anything you don’t need.

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Written by The Office Oasis