Desktop Organization and Portable Planner Essentials Tray

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I’m one of the few lucky millennials out there who has an extra room in my apartment. Affectionately referred to as a “den,” the extra room has become part office, part beer brewing laboratory, part craft/blog/planner room. One of the things I really wanted when we upgraded to an apartment with extra space was a desk that I could craft and write at, and boy did Matt deliver. He built this six foot desk from scratch to go right under the window. It’s so beautiful! Have a look …

Desk Overview

Since it doesn’t have any drawers, I’ve been dreaming up ways to organize things on the top of the desk (there is plenty of room, after all). I landed on a system about a month ago and it’s been working out famously. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

image6Here’s a bird’s eye view of where I keep the essentials. You’ll recognize the pink file box and folders from my previous post about paper organization. Read more about that here. In front of that, I keep my portable planner and crafting tray, my editorial calendar for blogging and a list of upcoming post ideas that I haven’t scheduled out yet. Next to everything I keep my “bright ideas” pad for jotting down idea related notes, my Steadler pens (essential for sharpie lovers) and all my ballpoint pens, pencils and scissors.


I get most of my pencils from the Target Dollar Spot, I even got this little woven cup there, too. It was only $3.


If you haven’t heard of Steadler pens, or haven’t tried this particular style (triplus fineliner, BTW), you’re missing out! They write just like Sharpies, but don’t bleed through the paper. I use these to color-code my planner and editorial calendar for my blog. Also, my “bright ideas” pad holds all my best blog ideas that strike me when I realize I have helpful information to share. I usually jot them in my planner with pencil, then transfer them over to my master list, which you can see here:


If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen my color-coded editorial calendar already. I have the same monthly view copied over into my planner so I know what I should be posting and when. I like to have a print out handy at my desk to help me visualize the upcoming week when I sit down to schedule it out on Sunday.


This is by far the most exciting part of my desktop organization: it’s my portable planner essentials tray. It holds everything I need for paper crafting, planning, filing, paying bills, etc. I’m usually at my desk when I do all of the aforementioned activities, but if I’m ever experiencing a busy week, or I don’t get to planning until Sunday night after oh, let’s say 9pm when Game of Thrones is on, I’ll need to relocate to the TV. I got this tray for only $3 at–you guessed it–the Target Dollar Spot.



I love keeping different color wash tape out with bright colors and fun patterns.


I keep a small plastic sorting tray (also from the dollar spot) to corral smaller wash tapes, paper clips, page flags and sticky notes.


I recently found these foam gold letters at the dollar spot and knew I had to have them! I used them on the cover of my planner as a monogram and on my DIY inspiration board that you can see here. Photo squares are also great to keep in hand for sticking things down in a jiffy–a tip I picked up form my scrapbooking days.


Behind these beautiful binder clips you’ll se my boring–yet practical–stapler. Staplers are a desktop essential in my book. If I get a bill or letter in the mail that spans multiple pages, I’ll immediately staple it before I put it where it needs to go. It’s a must!


I’m usually a fan of keeping things tucked away and out of sight, but I’m actually loving how this system is working and how much it’s inspiring me. I love looking at the bright colors of the wash tape, pens, pencils and folders. All of these things help spark my creativity and encourage me to stay organized, but do it in style.

I’ve been thinking about painting the tray a color, but I can’t decide! Do you guys have a suggestion for me? Leave it in the comments–I need all the help I can get!

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7 thoughts on “Desktop Organization and Portable Planner Essentials Tray

  1. Caroline St Francis says:

    Obsessed with this post! I love having a million drawers in my desk, but the desk I just bought for my new apartment only has three little ones (which is great in some ways), so I’ve been trying to figure out how I will organize everything and your tips are amazing. Also, just found your blog via HC and can’t wait to read more!


    • qqquimby016 says:

      I’m so glad you found this helpful! That’s so funny that you say that because I just discovered YOUR blog via HC and I love your personal style! I’m also a northeast native (Albany, NY, to be exact). Already subscribed – loving it! 🙂

  2. seashellsandsparkles says:

    I love this post! Having an essentials tray on your desk is such a great idea. I’m always moving around from my bedroom, to my kitchen, etc. and it’s easier to have everything in one place than to have to try to juggle it all in your hands (I’m a sucker for taking only one trip)! I also love how it looks fab on your desk verses just a plain pencil bag, like I have!

    Xo, Rach | Seashells + Sparkles

    • qqquimby016 says:

      I’m guilty of the same things – I have to have something portable! Glad you found it helpful. I’m thinking about painting the tray instead of just having it be plain old wood – any suggestions?

  3. livinglesh says:

    This is a great post! I am typically the kind of person struggles with organization and having the right tools on my desk to complete what I need completed. I will be taking this tips and utilizing them as I move into my new place and establish my new desk area.

    oxo, Lesh

    • qqquimby016 says:

      I’m so glad to hear that and I’m happy you found this helpful. Good luck with the move! I hope you’ll be chronicling it on your blog – we’ll all be waiting to read 🙂

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