It’s hard to believe, but we are already five weeks into the semester.

Photo by Colleen Wilson

Almost all at once, the tests, readings and homework seem to have piled up, nearly crushing us under their weight.

Around this time each semester, I start to become untangled.

My laundry bin overflows, my hair is constantly in a messy ponytail and my desk becomes unrecognizable.

Buried under a mountain of paperwork, I can hardly find a place to set up my laptop and get some work done.

The environment is hardly conducive to a productive workspace. This week, I decided to shape up and get myself in order.

I threw my laundry in the wash, brushed my hair and sat down to attack my desk. A short while later, I had a full recycling bin and stacks of neatly organized papers.

The only trouble was that I still had no place to put them. Leaving them on my desk would only welcome the clutter back and stuffing the papers in the drawers would undo all of my work to organize them.

The solution was upright desk organizers designed to hold papers and magazines. The problem was that I didn’t have any.

A quick look through my recycling bin solved that. I am a big fan of recycling papers, plastics, tin and other resources, but an even better option is upcycling.

Upcycling is the process of taking waste materials and transforming them into new products. This week, I found some old cereal boxes and got to work.

I cut the boxes at a slant and leveled the tops, shaping them into the traditional desk organizer design.

Then, I covered both sides with patterned paper to hide the cereal box designs.

You can use old wrapping paper, magazines, newspapers or even paint the sides.

My new desktop organizers are now sitting in the corner of my neat and tidy desk, holding my papers for quick and easy reference.