Desk Drawer Done!

At the beginning of the week, I shared with you a deep dark space in my life. My top desk drawer. It was such a mess. I swallowed my pride and took a few photos, challenging you to organize your own drawer with me this week, in my “Tackle it Together” series. Check out that post here. I’d love to hear how you all did!

Here is the before:


Some of the things I found when I cleaned out this drawer were:

  • Quarters!
  • Thumb Tacks
  • My NAEA National Conference name badge
  • Granola bars
  • Chap stick
  • Ribbons
  • Magnet Strips
  • CD’s
  • Keys

And that is just to name a few! All of these things I did not use on a regular basis…. My goal for the drawer was to only put things in here I use and can grab easily EVERY DAY!

Here is what I did. I started by dumping out everything on Monday. I cleared the drawer into a tub. I like to start organizing projects with a fresh clean slate.  I only added back in my favorite pens.

As the week went on, I would only pull things from the bucket that I needed, telling me it was an item I needed on a weekly or daily basis. I would gradually add things as the week went on. It turns out I didn’t need very much of what I had pulled out. My only putting a few things back, I really simplified my life!

Ready for the big reveal?

So, what did I choose to keep in my top drawer? The following are the items I grab every day.

  • Sharpie Pens – Great for writing notes, lists and sticky notes
  • Pencils – MY pencils, to keep save from the grubby hands of little kids. I hate using their pencils. I am constantly washing my hands! These are in my safe zone!
  • White index cards – One of the office supplies that makes me giddy. I write all of my TO DO lists on these cards. Note, three different sizes, depending on how much I have to do!
  • Highlighters – Another love affair. I highlight things all the time!
  • Staple Removers – for those pesky bulletin board takedowns!

And then, I got a little drawer organizer, which is really just a serving tray I picked up for a dollar. In this, I have my highlighters, my professional cards to hand out, and also my recess whistle and key for the kiln room. Both things I do not want to lose!  Since this project was completed, it has definitely made my life easier and the system is working, which is a good sign!

So, there you have it. Lets see a side by side for effect. So tell me, what simple organizing thing makes your life a little easier? Did anyone else tackle their desk drawer or at least think about it after this challenge? Do tell!

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Jen

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! Thanks so much for sharing! You have done a great job simplifying, and sharing the method to getting there!


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  • Karen

    I love your style! I have been reading for the past few hours and will be signing up for classes as soon as I double check that Wisconsin will accept the credits for license renewal.
    The best way I have organized my desk was to get rid of it. I never worked at it anyways, it became a collection spot for everything. I have a small room and fought all last year arranging the tables so all of my 33 3rd graders would fit and see when I gave demos. The added space has made a huge difference and now I put things away instead of simply putting them on the desk.

  • Acwallace98

    Thanks for sharing!!!!…….I now know that I am not the only teacher that has a messy desk drawer by the end (sometimes middle) of the year! Great tips! When my students see my drawer they always say things like are you a hoarder Ms.Wallace and I tell them no just an art teacher! Lol

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  • Vonnie

    Anywhere you have a flat surface, you are eventually going to JUNK! I don’t think it’s because we’re disorganized – it’s simply to do with time restraints. We get so busy and have to drop things and therefore the closest surface gets the clutter. When I leave my room for the year, it is gorgeous – but due to being a Green Coordinator as well as a PLC Leader for my team of visual art teachers, I am always running like a Mad Hatter! Therefore, I have to say that if I organize my desk like Jessica, eventually, it’ll go back that way again. Not to be negative – but I think it’s the nature of the Art beast!! :)

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