31 Days of Decluttering, Day Five: My Desk (And How Decluttering Can Save You Money)

Desk Drawer Before & After

It’s Day #5 of the 31 Days of Decluttering Challenge and today I tackled my office desk. Much like yesterday — when I started with one drawer and ended up with a whole bathroom — today’s decluttering project took on a life of its own.

I went into my office at 10:30 this morning, with the goal of clearing out the middle drawer of my desk. 90 minutes later, I’d gone through all five drawers. It was much more time than I’d planned on spending today, but boy! Does that ever feel good!

Desk Drawer Declutter

The problem with my desk is that it was a casualty of “not quite unpacked” syndrome. As I’ve mentioned before, within the first four days of moving into our house, we got it 95% unpacked. Unfortunately, over the next four months, we maybe moved that needle another .05%.

When it was time to pack up my desk this summer, I put all the contents into ziploc bags and threw them all into a big Rubbermaid tub that I brought in the car with us. Then when it came time to unpack my office, I just moved those bags straight into the drawers. As I’ve needed to find something, I’ve just dug thru the bags – creating a total mess.

It gets worse before it gets better

I’ve mentioned before that when I’m decluttering, I first like to completely empty the space. Often times that means that it gets worse before it gets better. That was definitely the case around 11 a.m. But as I emptied those bags for the first time in months, I discovered things that I’ve been missing since the summer.

Like 8 pairs of ear buds! (Seriously eight!) And a baggie filled with pushpins. I’ve been needing those pushpins for a while! In fact, just last week I finally decided I must have failed to pack them, and went to Target to get new ones — for $3. If you’re wondering about the connection between clutter and frugality, there it is in a nutshell: When you can’t find your stuff because of the clutter, you waste your money replacing it. These pushpins are just one small example — this time a $3 waste.

Before & After Stationery Drawer

Looking for motivation to start clearing the clutter? Just imagine that $3+ is buried in every little drawer and shelf and table top mess that you tackle. (In fact, readers have already told me about gift cards and birthday checks that they’ve unearthed while participating in the 31 Days of Decluttering Challenge — and those were worth a lot more than $3!)

I’m super pleased with how much more functional my desk is now. It’s all too easy to become blind to our clutter — especially when the clutter is hidden behind closet doors or desk drawers. But no matter where it is, clutter drains our energy and productivity. Now that I know what I have — and where it is — I’m confident that I’ll be better able to handle all sorts of desk-work, from blogging to bill paying.

Here’s an after shot of my desk with a nice, cleared-off desk top. (You know by now that I have a thing for cleared surfaces, right?!)

my desk decluttered after

I love this desk — it’s a banker’s desk, which is at least 60 years old (does that qualify it for being an antique?). My dad bought it when he was in his 20s from a bank that was closing its doors. I remember my dad having this desk in his home office when I was growing up, and now it’s in my home office, while my kids are growing up. I’ve said before that I’m not an especially sentimental person, but a few special family heirlooms like this definitely make me happy.

When it comes to decluttering, public accountability helps, my friends. So please: Leave a comment below and let us know what you have decluttered today!

31 Days of Decluttering

Do you, too, feel the need to get a handle on your house? Join me for the 31 Days of Decluttering challenge! Maybe you’re willing to take on one project a day (remember: small ones count!). Perhaps you’d rather pick four projects, and give yourself a week to work on each one. Maybe you just want to tackle your basement for once and for all. It’s all good! Everyone is welcome to join.

Day One: Decluttering the Toy Storage Closet

Day Two: Decluttering the Top of a Bedroom Dresser (Finish What You Start!)

Day Three: Decluttering the Master Bathroom


  1. You inspired me! I just redid my desk. Took 5 minutes but it looks much better. I have a thig for clean surfaces too 😉

  2. Your motivation is making me motivated! So far: bathroom counter, long bench at foot of bed (can you just imagine what a pile magnet that would be?) and starting kitchen. BTW: the next few days in Northeast Ohio are perfect for decluttering – too cold to do much else ☺️

    • Mara Strom says


      And my husband keeps saying he wants to get a bench or small couch for the end of our bed – but I fear exactly that pile magnet!

  3. My goal is to get my studio decluttered this month. It’s been at the bottom of the list for cleaning out and decluttering for years. It’s only about 13′ x 6′ (end of a room) but it will be a long process. Lots of storage, lots of stacks. I’ve filled our recycling bin (kitchen trash can size) 3 times already! Seeing a small patch that has been cleared out is a nice motivator.

    • Mara Strom says

      Way to go, Carol! You’re doing great – I can’t wait to hear that you rocked this challenge and now have a totally decluttered studio space!

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