10 crafty ways to declutter a chaotic workspace

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May 29, 2020

Words by Abby Brennan

One of the best things about being a freelancer or being your own boss is that your space is entirely your own – but equally, it’s also one of the worst. Whilst it’s all fun and games being in control of the playlist every day and being able to wear your pyjamas to work if you want to, it’s not quite so cushy when you realise you don’t have an office cleaner or somebody to get the space all spick and span ready for the morning for you.

With the self-employed or gig economy lifestyle comes great responsibility – a responsibility to keep your working environment clean, tidy and clutter-free. However, when the emails just keep on pinging through and your to-do list never seems to get any shorter, tidying your workspace or home office tends to fall by the wayside.

In this article, we share ten crafty office organisation hacks to help you declutter your surroundings because you know what they say about a tidy desk and a tidy mind. Each of these tips involve odds and ends you’ve probably already got lying about the place collecting dust so you can be thirty, eco-friendly and organised all at the same time.

1. Bulldog clip cable clamps

Take a few big bulldog clips and clamp them to the edge of your desk or a low shelf, then use the metal loops to thread your cables through. Think laptop chargers, phone chargers, headphones – all those small, fiddly wires that are easily tangled and prone to falling out of reach when you need them most.

2.Vertical storage mason jars for bits ’n’ bobs

Mason jars (or just any old glass jars really) are great for storing things like pasta, oats and spices in the kitchen but there’s a worthy place for them in the world of home office organisation too. Take a few jars, glue them together securely side-by-side using a hot glue gun, then turn them on their side for a stacked storage solution with a minimal footprint but maximum clutter cleaning potential. This makes for the perfect place to hide away things like drawing pins, elastic bands, paper clips, spare buttons, your puppy’s first tooth, batteries that died a decade ago and your very last Rolo.

3. Remember, Ottoman’s aren’t just for the bedroom

Ottoman storage boxes aren’t just ideal for stuffing away blankets and shoes you haven’t worn for three years – they also make a great multifunctional addition to any home office. Store away any old files, paperwork, notebooks or stuff you don’t regularly reach for then use it as a pull-up seat for when you have somebody visit your workspace who needs somewhere to perch temporarily.

4. Toilet paper tube cable tidy

Next time you finish a loo roll, save the inner cardboard tube as a handy alternative to plastic cable tidies which aren’t very sustainable and often rather overpriced. Cover the tube in black or white tape to conceal its original identity or go all out and have some fun decorating it. If what is on the end of your cables is too big to fit through the tube (e.g. plug heads) simply cut the tube down the middle, wrap around your wires and then tape back into place.

5. Over-the-door organiser for each day of the week

You know those fabric over-door organisers which are more typically used for storing things like shoes and make up? Well, they make for an epic way to get yourself organised for the week ahead. Secure it to the back of your door and then dedicate each compartment to a day of the week, a specific project or an individual client. Use it to hold things like business cards, pieces of scrap note paper, hard drives, USB sticks… you get the gist.

6. Draw compartments made from discarded cereal boxes

Once you’ve said cheerio to the last of your Cheerios and waved goodbye to your Weetabix, set the box aside to use as a quick, cheap and eco-savvy way to organise your desk drawers. Often, office drawers can turn into an abyss of complete pandemonium where important things are lost, never to be found again. Combat the chaos by compartmentalising with sawn-down cereal boxes so that everything has a place and you know where it is.

7. The Mary Poppins magazine file corner shelf

If you happen to have an old magazine filing box lying around that is no longer required for magazines nor anything else for that matter, turn it into a corner shelf. Put your DIY hat on and secure the file to an available corner of the room and it’s here where your miniature cactus can sit, where you can chuck your car keys and some odd coins, or where you can stuff your unopened post until you’re ready to deal with it. We call it the ‘Mary Poppins’ shelf as you’ll be surprised at just how much clutter this nifty little hack will save your desk space from.

8. Gutter piping bookshelves

Okay, this one is a little off the wall, or should we say… on the wall! If you’ve got any gutter pipe cut-offs in your shed or garage that are only going to end up in the skip, save them from their fate by turn them into upcycled shelving in your home office instead. If you are going to try this one out, it’s worth noting that square edge gutter piping works much more effectively for holding things like heavy books and photo frames.

9. Masking tape signposts for Spaghetti Junction

If you say you’ve never sat on your office floor, staring into the void beneath your desk, with your head in your hands, wondering how you’ll ever know which tangled wire goes where then you’re a bare-faced liar. Save yourself from a white-knuckle ride down Spaghetti Junction by labelling each cable and wire. Simply wrap a piece of masking tape around it to create a little flag and then write directly onto the tape what the cable should connect to.

10. Go paperless with a write-on wall

Another effective way to limit the amount of clutter you collect in your workspace is to try and make as many of your processes paperless as possible. A great place to start is your brainstorming, list- making and inspiration doodles – these can all be done on a whiteboard or chalkboard rather than loose pieces of paper that are only going to end up under your feet. Mount a whiteboard or chalkboard to the wall or alternatively, invest in some chalk paint or adhesive whiteboard roll to make the fixture more permanent.

If you give any of these organisation hacks a go, don’t forget to share a photo with us over on Twitter or Instagram by tagging @Creative_Fed.