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Throw out the Trash and Reclaim Your Office

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 7/5/2011

Throwing stuff away is the most important step you can take to get and stay organized.

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    Dealing with Trash

    It’s a given that you take out the trash a couple of times a week, but I’ll bet the trash you take out comes from an actual trash can, and you only take it out after it’s gotten full. This article is not about that kind of trash, it’s about a more concealed type. The trash you’re going to collect here will come from inside desk drawers, in mail piles, in junk piles, and in similar places throughout your home office.

    If you haven’t used it in a year, seriously consider throwing it away. That’s the rule for today, but for now, I’m only talking about trash. I’m not talking about things that work that can be donated to charity, given to family members, or sold. This rule, as it stands here, does not have to do with duplicate printers or scanners, or anything else that is functional, such as print cartridges for a printer you no longer own or used Ziploc bags that can be recycled. All you want to deal with right now are the trash and things that don’t work.

    For instance, junk mail is trash, and, you can’t use the power supply from the digital camera you lost two years ago (although you might be able to recycle it or sell it on Ebay). Think carefully about what is and is not trash, and then, get rid of it!

    Here are some common home office items to look for:

    • Broken electronics
    • Expired coupons
    • Batteries that no longer work
    • Old homework
    • Old newspapers
    • Catalogs and junk mail
    • Dead plants
    • Empty cardboard boxes
    • Crispy rubber bands
    • Completed to-do lists
    • Telephone books

    Get your trash bags and start wherever you feel the most comfortable. If you want to start with a junk drawer, start with the messiest one. Take everything out of the drawer and put it on the desktop, go through each item, and throw away what you deem trash while keeping what you think you need.

    Tip: If you think you’ll find so much trash that you’ll need to put it out on the curb for bulk pickup, plan your cleanup time based on the day bulk pickup comes by your house.