Guest Post: Organizing Your Desk

Remember that episode of “I Love Lucy” where Lucy and Ethel get a job processing chocolates? Remember how, at the beginning, they did really well but eventually they stopped doing so well? Remember how the chocolates come hurtling out of the machine while Lucy and Ethel scramble around to effectively, yet carefully, place them back on the conveyer belt?

This is how I think of the tasks, concerns, and students that teachers come across each day. As teachers, we must attend to our responsibilities at a rapid-fire pace and with care. When my desk is organized, I can better serve my students and my school. When my desk is messy, I struggle to keep up with the constant influx of requests and quickly fall behind, my proverbial chef hat falling in my face.

Because a desk is essentially real estate, keeping the conveyer belt of items flowing onto and off of the space effectively is key to a well-organized classroom. While allocating space for my computer, I divide the remaining space on my desk into the following four quadrants:

Current Projects: Bottom left-hand quadrant

This is the most prominent section, where the most important and timely tasks land. Tasks in this section should be completed prior to leaving for the day. On my desk, this section frequently contains college essays, my voicemail log, and make-up work waiting to be graded because these items are vital to my students’ success in our classroom.

Next Project: Bottom right-hand quadrant

This section of the desk holds all of the items that I need to take care of in one to three days. Often, I have periodicals to read, papers to grade, or requests for letters of recommendation in this section. Ideally, I will work through this quadrant by the end of the week so that my desk is clean when I come in on Monday morning.

Waiting Projects: Upper right-hand quadrant

As the name suggests, I place items here because I am waiting for them to be completed: projects requiring another’s input, an agenda for a future meeting, or items that need to be delivered elsewhere in the school. Each time I walk out of my room, I check the pile for items that I can complete as I walk to my destination.

Mementos: Upper left-hand quadrant

A Bulgarian perfume bottle, a plastic moose, and giant pencil are but a few of the things in this space. Each holds a memory of the giver and reminds me of the impact that teachers have each day in the classroom.

Adhering to these desktop designations allows me to quickly process information and requests that come throughout the week. Each item has a place to land, and knowing that I have a system for items allows me to better manage the flow of activities in my classroom. This frees me up for planning engaging, rigorous shenanigans . . . just like that other red-head.

Allison Venuto, a strawberry blonde, has been a teacher in the Dallas area for 10 years and owns Ducks in a Row Personal Organizing. Please contact her with questions at

Views and opinions expressed in guest posts are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of ATPE.

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Sharin Clark Posted On: March 25, 2015
As a former teacher I fully understand the need for organization. My desk at school was always a mess and I find my desk at home is the same. This is a great and simple way to get organized. I am going to implement it today!

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