If you are just joining us, you'll want to start here or check out my Clutter-Free Guide to Organizing and Managing Your Classroom.

Teachers rarely spend any time during the school day at their “desks.” However, it is important to have a teacher work station for planning, correcting, prepping, etc. You’ll also need storage for teacher tools and files. There are a few different options which really depend on available space and individual preferences and priorities.

Most classrooms come with a desk.  I always encourage teachers to evaluate if they really need it or if it would be possible to have it removed. I’m an advocate for taking the desk out of the classroom,   Do you have a large table that you use for teaching small group lessons? Consider using that as your teacher workstation. This will allow you more surface space and room to plan with colleagues. Another bonus to using a table as a teacher workstation instead of a desk is that there is less storage. The less storage you have available to you, the less clutter you’ll acquire.

This is my teacher table. While I still have my desk in my classroom (mainly because there is nowhere to store it at school), I use this as my work area instead of my desk. Since I also use it to teach the majority of my lessons, it has to stay clean.

Whatever space in your classroom that you call your home (or your base, or your nest, or your office, or whatever) is what we'll focus on this week.

Create a clutter-free organized workspace for yourself. Once again, baby steps are fine. At the very least strive for a Clutter-Free desktop and create systems for helping you keep it that way.




Don't worry. I have plenty of tips listed below to help you out.

Take a good look at your current work surface. How does it rate? Are you a piler or a filer? What do you use your work area for? What type of change would you benefit from.

  • PURGE! I can't say this enough. You don't need 12 pens at your disposal.
  • Look for other options for the items that currently reside on your desktop.
  • Go vertical. Do you have wall space around your desk that you could use?
  • Get magnetic. Use magnetic locker bins (available at the Dollar Store) to hold supplies under the desk.

Last year, I came to the realization that just about everything in my desk was a duplicate of the supplies that I had available to the students in the writing area.

So I merged the two and was able to eliminate the majority of things in/on my desk.

It’s very easy to accumulate a lot of unnecessary “stuff” in and around a desk. Start by determining what you really need and what you can remove from the classroom. 

And remember, the more you get rid of the less you’ll need to organize. 

  • Gather 2 small sorting containers (labeled keep and donate), a recycling bin, and a trash can. Place the sorting containers on top of your desk. Open one drawer at a time, remove the items and place them into the appropriate container. 
  • Now go through the container of items you plan to keep, sort and reconsider the items. Place like items together (pens/pencils, stickers/stamps, paperclips/binder clips, etc).  Get rid of anything that is considered excess. You don’t need three scissors or four bottles of whiteout. 
  • If you have a teacher supply closet at your school simply place the excess staples, paperclips, etc back in there. It’ll be there when you need it. If you can’t stand to part with it then consider getting a small storage box and placing all of the duplicate and overstocked items inside so that your actual workspace is simplified.
  • After you have removed everything from your desk, give it a deep cleaning. Add in organizational systems for sorting objects with labels before returning items to it.
  • Designate a space for things that come and go with you each day so they are not left out on your desktop (i.e. cell phone, camera, keys).
  • Try putting everything you need into a box next to your desk for a week or two. When you take an item out to use place it inside your desk. Reevaluate the items that are still in the box and weren’t used at the end of the designated time period. Do you really need them?
  • Stick with one color pen. If the ink runs out you can easily grab a backup pen without needing to rummage through a collection of writing utensils to finish writing that note.
  • Minimize personal clutter. We all love our families, but we don’t need to make our classroom workspace a shrine to them. One nice family photo is sufficient. 
  • Keep a clear desktop. You’ll be amazed at how this makes you feel psychologically. To achieve this goal store things in the drawers, attach photos to the desk or on a nearby wall. 
  • Consider creating a “traveling office” by placing a pair of scissors, a stapler, a roll of tape, a couple pens and some paperclips into a portable tote that can be stored on a shelf, under a table or in a cupboard when not in use.
  • Have a plan for all those student drawings that are presented to you. Perhaps you could designate a small bulletin board and rotate the gifted artwork or simply say, “this will look beautiful on my fridge at home.”
  • Create smaller containers and spaces to store items within drawers. Use small boxes, plastic containers, muffin tins or draw sorters to keep things organized. Go the extra step by labeling each section. It greatly increases the odds that you’ll put things back into their proper place.
  • Find a method of managing cords that works well for you.  You can use zip ties to tighten them and/or a basket to corral them.  You could also cut holes in a box to keep the cords together while in use. Attach a label near the power source to identify the purpose of the cord. 
  • Do not use your workspace as a closet. Designate a closet or drawer to house your purse, coat, lunchbag, etc during the workday.
  • Establish routines for maintaining a clutter-free, clean workspace. Keep a container of baby wipes in your newly decluttered drawer. Get in the habit of clearing the surface throughout the day and wiping it down before you go home.
  • Use the sticky end of a Post-It note to clean between the keys on your keyboard.
  • Avoid eating at your desk. It will invite mess.
  • Have a designated space for notes and a method for organizing your Post-Its to avoid little scraps of paper here, there and everywhere.
  • Avoid a generic “inbox tray.”  Invest in a filing system. Create sections for managing papers (i.e. need response, to be copied, to be corrected, to be filled out, etc). This will keep things current and allow you to have less piles to shuffle.
  • Go paperless as much as possible. Use your iPhone for notes, calendar, etc.
  • Keep a paper shredder and a trash can within close proximity to your work area to make it easier to purge as needed.
  • Designate one day a month for a deep desk cleaning. Get rid of anything you’ve acquired recently that you don’t need along with items you may have initially saved.
The photo below shows how I leave the desk in my classroom set up each night in the event that I am unexpectedly absent the next day. If you have not yet read my posts about planning for a sub you can do so here {be sure to grab the free printables while you are there}.

{Click to access emergency sub information}


On Friday, I'll put up the Linky Party related to this week's Clutter-Free Classroom PROJECT. The Linky will be ongoing and you can always jump in and link up at anytime. If you don't have a blog you can respond to the prompt in the comment section on Friday's post. Below is this week's prompt. Keep these questions in mind as you take your pictures:

Feel free to use one or all of the following:

Show us photos of your "teacher area."
  • Write about what you like about it.
  • How you would like to change it?
  • What changes did you make to it as part of the Clutter-Free PROJECT Challenge.
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