What a Wirecutter Home Office Expert Uses to Organize Her Desk

I’ve spent years scouring the internet to find inspiring workspaces and home offices—both as a hobby and as part of my job writing about home-office topics for Wirecutter and, previously, Lifehacker. I’ve lurked for hours on sites like Apartment Therapy and the battlestations subreddit. And I’ve searched through Flickr members’ desk photos, geeking out on any setup that had a vibe—whether it was a minimalist workspace, a traditional one, or something completely over-the-top tech-wise (like this DIY desk with a computer built into it).In the two decades that I’ve been working remotely—writing about productivity and remote work—my own home office has constantly evolved as I’ve pursued that “just right” workspace dream. I’ll probably never stop revamping my desk, but I’m finally happy with its current layout because it supports my workflow (for now) and keeps clutter to a minimum.Here’s what I use to keep an organized workspace. These are not all Wirecutter picks, but they’re the items I need to maintain order at my desk.Quartet Glass Dry-Erase Desktop EaselPhoto: Melanie PinolaA lot of my daily notes include things like what my family wants to order for takeout or a reference number for a phone call I need to make. Instead of wasting paper, I use a glass whiteboard for these impermanent bits of info. I like that you can stand it up to use as a clipboard, but most of the time, it lies flat on the right side of my desk. It’s almost cathartic to purge random notes and have a clean slate at the end of the day.Velcro One-Wrap Thin TiesPhoto: Melanie PinolaMessy cables and an abundance of computer accessories are a distracting eyesore. The easiest way to keep cables under control is to gather them together using ties or straps. I use the hook-and-loop kind—specifically, these thin Velcro straps—because, unlike zip ties, they’re adjustable and reusable, which makes adding or removing cables easy. I also use these ties to shorten a cord that’s too long: Simply wrap the cable in a couple of loops and tie (this works for managing cables when you’re on the go, too).Cocoon Grid-It OrganizerPhoto: Melanie PinolaMy desk sadly lacks drawers, so for other odds and ends (including computer accessories that don’t need to be on my desk), I use wall space. I’m a big fan of the Cocoon Grid-It Organizer for holding and organizing small items in my purse, backpack, or travel case. But I love this organizer best when it’s hanging by my desk on a strong, stick-on hook. It keeps items—like a USB flash drive, hand moisturizer, and microfiber cloth—within reach but doesn’t take up desk real estate. Bonus: The organizer is easy to grab and go.Acco Large Binder ClipsPhoto: Melanie PinolaCables can be unruly, even when they’re not in use: When I would unplug my laptop to go work somewhere else, for example, the power cord and the other cables would sometimes fall off the desk. To the rescue: the humble, ever-versatile binder clip. I have the binder clip attached to the edge of my desk at the back, with the power cord and cable for my USB hub running through the opening. It keeps those cables in place and off the ground when I’m not using my laptop at the desk.Veelink Bamboo Wireless Charger with OrganizerPhoto: Melanie PinolaOne cable I don’t worry about is the one for my phone charger. Instead, I use a wireless charger that doubles as a phone stand and pen holder. The Veelink Bamboo Wireless Charger with Organizer is solidly built, and I especially like how it blends in perfectly with my Jarvis bamboo standing desk. A wireless charger is one of those things I didn’t realize I needed until I bought it, and this is one of the nicest-looking desk accessories I’ve come across.Traveler’s NotebookPhoto: Melanie PinolaI am an ardent fan of the Traveler’s Notebook for planning tasks, journaling, and note-taking. It’s slim enough to have a permanent spot on my desk or to carry in my purse, and the leather cover feels luxurious. And this notebook is infinitely customizable because of the many refillable inserts that are available. I use the ruled insert for notes, the monthly insert for broad project planning, and the weekly insert for managing my to-dos and recording progress on habits I’m working on.One day I hope to reach next-level journaling and planner artistry like other Traveler’s Notebook owners. But for now, this is probably the one thing on my desk, besides my phone, that I would grab if my house caught on fire.A piece of wood + IKEA Capita legsPhoto: Melanie PinolaI have two external monitors at my desk because then I can do research on one screen while I write on the other. Although there are monitor stands available for purchase, to save some money I went the DIY route: I drilled six IKEA legs to a dining-table leaf that I wasn’t using. The monitor stand raises the monitors so they’re at a more ergonomic eye level for me, and it also makes my desk space more efficient because I can tuck my laptop and a small desk organizer underneath the monitors.Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100iPhoto: FujitsuI used to have a full-size paper scanner that could handle multiple sheets at a time, but I gave it away after buying this mobile scanner. This one is easy to use for my occasional scanning needs (reducing paper clutter), and it doesn’t take up much desk space, because I’ve attached it to the underside of my desk with heavy-duty fasteners. I can detach the scanner when I need it, but, surprisingly, scanning upside down works.AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Micro-Cut ShredderPhoto: Melanie PinolaA paper shredder is on my short list of must-haves for a home office, because so many papers may contain sensitive, personal information—everything from your phone number to your social security number. After testing eight shredders, I decided on the AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Micro-Cut Shredder for my home office because of its budget-friendly price, high security, and compact design. It’s about the size of a typical small wastebasket, so it also fits in nicely under my desk.Wayber Dual-Sided Desk PadPhoto: WAYBERThe most recent purchase I made for my desk was this leather-like desk pad. I previously thought a desk pad (or mat) was unnecessary for most people—if you have a good-looking desk, why cover it? But after seeing one of my friend’s desks, I realized how functional and beautiful this cheap desk accessory was. It protects my desk from spills and lets me put down sweaty water glasses anywhere, rather than having to precisely place cups on a coaster. My mouse moves more smoothly on it. And, perhaps most importantly, the mat creates a pleasant visual that makes me at least feel more organized and tidy.If you spend a lot of hours at your desk, it’s worth taking the time to reconsider how it’s arranged, to move things around, and to get the items that will keep you organized and feeling good all day long.
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