DIY desk organizer ideas help save money and keep your home office clean and free from clutter. Sometimes it's hard to find organizers at the store that have the right kind of storage for your desk. Create your own pencil holders, paper sorting shelves, and other cheap DIY organizers with everyday household objects.

The desk in your bedroom or home office may look neat and business-like when you first use it, but after a while, you may have trouble keeping it organized. A messy desk not only looks terrible, but it may cause you to waste time searching for misplaced items. Using organizers on top of your desk to hold pens, tape, papers, envelopes, and other things will allow you to work more efficiently. A messy desk may lead to a cluttered home office and make you less productive.

Desk organizers may be large with lots of spots to hold paper clips, pens, papers, and electronics, or small enough for just rubber bands and other miscellaneous items. Office supply stores, online retailers, and discount stores carry desk organizers, but they may be too pricey or not the right configuration for your desk. Many of these organizers are also made of cheap materials, and may not last very long.

beige wooden d i and y freestanding letters

Instead of spending money on a substandard organizer (or one that’s too elaborate for your needs), make your own desk organizer with materials you have at home.

Here are six desk organizer ideas to keep your work area clean.


DIY Pencil Holder

photo of pencils in white organizer

Create a gold pencil holder, similar to a pricey holder from different-sized cylinder containers you have around the house. Use tea containers, sturdy cardboard, small plastic cups, and a shot glass to give you various sized cylinders.

Place the largest container in the middle of a sanded wood board, and place other containers to either side of it, with the smallest containers at the outer edges. Use Super Glue or Liquid Nails to glue the containers to the board.

Let the glue on the board dry for 24 hours. After the containers and board have dried, spray paint the containers gold. It may take up to three coats to fully cover the board.

You can use another color, or decorate the containers with decals or stickers if you want. Now add scissors, pens, pencils, erasers, paper clips and other supplies.


Bed Spring Letter Holder

Here’s one of the more unusual desk organizer ideas, and it offers an easy way to keep your letters, bills, and other snail mail in order. Use a heavy, rectangular piece of wood and super glue or screw an old section of bedspring to the wood.

If you have an old mattress or box spring, cut away the fabric covering with a pair of scissors and then use a wire cutter to remove a piece of the wire coil. You can paste metal lettering into the wood or keep it plain.


Clip-On Organizers

grey felt journal to do list on a white desk

Living in a studio apartment or other small space makes organizing all your office and electronic items a challenge. You want everything to be neat, orderly, and easy to reach while you’re working. Make clip-on organizer boxes for your desk to maximize space and keep everything at your fingertips.

You’ll need the following supplies to make these DIY boxes:

One each – coffee, soup and bread loaf pan
Four plastic grip clips
Four washers, bolts, and nuts
One or more cans of your favorite color spray paint, and white spray paint
A self-sticking felt pad

The tools needed to assemble the organizers are a screwdriver, power drill, and rubber gloves to protect your hands when spray painting. Put the clips on the edge of each container, and then mark the location where you want to drill a hole with a marker.

Hold the container firmly with one hand and use the drill to make a hole in each pan. You may need to pulse the drill a few times before a divot appears. The divot lets you drill all the way through the container material.

Paint the inside of the containers with your favorite color spray paint. Make sure you go outside to spray paint or spray paint in a well-ventilated area indoors. Let the container interiors dry, and then flip them over to paint the exteriors with white spray paint.

You can spray paint the clips any color, but we recommend painting them white. After the clips have dried, attach them to the organizer boxes with the felt pads. Stick the pads (sticky side up) underneath the top clip so you won’t scratch your table.

Now you can clip the organizers to your desk. These clip-on organizers are the perfect solution if you already have too much stuff on your desk, and need to keep additional small items within reach. Fill the organizers with business cards, sticky notes, pens, electrical cords, paper clips, or flash drives.


Melamine Paper Organizer

A wire paper sorter from the office supply store keeps your papers and file folders off
your desk. It’s functional, but not so attractive. If you have a bit of elbow grease, why not make a melamine paper sorting organizer.

It will take up slightly more room on your desk, but will look like a mini-cabinet, and may even store more paper. Here’s how to make one.

First, you'll need four or more melamine boards, iron-on edge tape, flathead screws and screw covers, escutcheon pins, and label holders. You can custom make the organizer fit your desk, so decide how much space you want it to take up on the top of your desk.

Determine the number of opening slots you'll need and the thickness of the melamine boards. Most people want the slots to be wide enough for landscape orientation copy paper.

The opening for each slot is 12 inches wide, so cut four boards 12 inches wide by ten inches deep. The sides of the organizer require two more boards measuring ten and a half inches high by ten inches deep. You'll need a table saw to cut the boards and remember to mark the exact measurements before cutting.

Use painter’s tape when cutting melamine to avoid chipping or splintering the finish. If chipping occurs, use white caulk to correct any mistakes. After cutting the boards, marking holes and drawing lines, pre-drill the side and interior boards to get them ready for the screws.

Put the pieces together using drywall or wood flat head screws. Erase any pencil lines with a damp Magic Eraser. Press whitehead screw caps into flat head screws with the round end of a hammer or screwdriver. The caps tidy up any drill marks and hide the
screw heads.

Hide any unfinished edges on the melamine boards with iron-on edge tape. Cut the tape to the length you need to finish the top edges and leave it a bit longer on both ends. Use a heated iron (with no steam) to set the adhesive. Cut off excess tape with a utility knife. Attach label holders below each shelf to indicate the project papers that should be in that particular slot, or have a shelf reserved for each member of your family. Do some pre-drilling and attach the labels with escutcheon pins.


Can Caddy

recycled cans

This multi-purpose caddy is a variation on the gold pencil holder described in the first DIY listing. It doesn't need a stand, and any tin can from your kitchen will work, you don't need to search around for different containers.

Gather and clean eight small tin cans and a large coffee can. Measure the circumference and height of each tin can, and cut any fabric you like to fit each can.

Put a coat of combination glue, sealer, and finish (Mod Podge, etc.) on the cans and then attach the fabric to each can. Put them aside to dry. Use gesso (a white paint mixer/binder) on the coffee can and then sand it.

Put the coffee can in the middle and arrange the small cans around it. Mark the inside of the coffee can to show where the tin cans should hang. Punch two holes near the top of each small can with a hammer and awl.

Punch matching holes in the coffee can, and then thread a small piece of wire from the inside of each small can into the coordinating hole in the large can.

Use a pair of pliers to twist the wire inside the coffee can and secure the smaller cans.

Fill up the cans with pens, pencils, scissors, erasers, paint brushes, small tools, and whatever else you need within reach on your desk.


Triangle Desk Organizer

stack of cardboards

One of the least expensive ways to organize your desk is to use cardboard you have on hand to make triangular slots for storage.

The supplies are recycled cardboard, duct tape, a hot glue gun, and washi tape. Cut the cardboard into 12-inch by four-inch rectangles. You'll need 16 pieces total to create your organizer. Make a fold along the eight inch and four-inch mark on the 12-inch side of your rectangle. Fold the pieces inward, and you'll have an equilateral triangle.

Cut a duct tape piece that's fourteen inches long. You can also use washi tape if you want to make colorful designs. Place the 12-inch side of the rectangle to the 14-inch piece of duct tape, with two inches of tape sticking out on one side of the cardboard.

Make a cut at the two-inch mark, and fold the duct tape inward, and then fold the pieces in to make a triangle. The extra tape will hold the shape in place. Put another piece of tape to the other end of the triangle to keep it together.

Repeat this sequence described above with each triangular section of cardboard. Use your glue gun to finish the desk organizer. Now you can fill up each triangular section with pens, pencils, paint brushes and other supplies.

General Desk Organizer Ideas

There are four basic steps you can take for simple desk organizer ideas.

De-clutter

Limit the amount of items on your desk to prevent unnecessary clutter. If you're someone who leaves a ton of notes all over your desk, try using your phone instead. This will prevent sticky notes from taking up all the space on your desk.

Compartmentalize

Make sure that everything on your desk has a place. Place the essential items within your reach, and keep everything else tucked away in drawers. This allows you to be more productive.

Utilize

Use all of the space around your desk, not just the desktop. This includes the wall over your desk, and the space underneath. Use wall-mounted shelves or under-the-desk shelves to store various desk accessories.

Categorize

For all of your paperwork, divide them in to categories: essential and non-essential. Essential paperwork are things you use everyday, and non-essential may be things you need to keep, but you aren't using them on a daily basis. File the non-essential ones in filing cabinets or a location away from the desk.

Our Final Thoughts

These desk organizer ideas have probably inspired you to look at many boxes, cans, and other items in your recycling pile in a new light. With a little imagination, you can turn many household objects or recyclables into a handy storage caddy for your desk.

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