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Take Control of Your Messy Home Office

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 6/28/2011

The only way to take control of a messy home office is to get rid of all of the junk you’ve accumulated that you really don’t need. I’m talking about taking out the trash. No, not the trash you put in the trash can; the trash you store in desk drawers, mail piles, filing cabinets, and more.

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    Take out the Trash!

    Sure you put stuff in the trash can. But what about the trash you store? I’m talking about unnecessary postal mail, crispy rubber bands that break when you try to use them, pens that are out of ink, items you’ve printed and no longer need, and similar items. Taking out this kind of trash is the first and most important step to taking control of a home office, because in many cases, this kind of trash is the stuff that started you on the clutter path in the first place. It’s probably also what causes half of the clutter in your home now, and what causes most of your current headaches. Failing to deal with the waste you collect, including junk mail, newspaper clippings, plastic butter tubs you’ve saved, catalogs, and sentimental knickknacks, are one of the main reasons your home office is disorganized and hard to manage.

    By simply getting rid of the trash, you can:

    • Overcome chronic disorganization by creating new, usable, spaces where there once was clutter.
    • Live with less “stuff,” which always requires dusting, putting away, moving, storing, working around, or otherwise managing daily.
    • Save money and time by not purchasing duplicates of things you can’t find.
    • Make your home office safer by getting rid of precariously stacked clutter.
    • Discourage rodents, roaches, ants, and moths from coming into your home office.
    • Encourage yourself and your family to continue keeping the home office clean and organized.

    You Know it’s Trash If:

    • You don’t know what it is, what it goes to, or what it opens
    • It’s rusty, it’s leaking, or it’s already caused damage to the inside of a drawer
    • It has a date on it, and it’s more than a year old (but it isn’t wine)
    • It’s in your handwriting but you don’t remember writing it
    • You don’t like it and won’t use it
    • It doesn’t have all of it’s parts
    • It is a cable, cord, or power supply for an item you no longer own
    • It is something you already have more than two of (such as computer mice, keyboards, or broken cell phones)
    • It’s been tacked to your bulletin board for more than a year
    • It’s a newspaper, magazine, catalog, or clipping that’s more than a year old (preferably no more than three months old)
    • It’s broken, such as a calculator, printer, scanner, or cell phone
    • It belongs to your grown children, and you warned them months ago you’d throw it away if they didn’t come and get it
    • It’s dead

    So hop to it. Time to get out the trash bag and start cleaning. If you have time, allot a half day for it. Once you get started, I can almost guarantee you’ll see such great results you won’t want to stop! It could take longer than a day though; it all depends on just how much trash you have!

    Tip: Take full bags to the trash bin or to the curb immediately. You don’t want the bags to become more problems, or give yourself or your family members any time to go through them. In fact, it’s best to use trash bags that aren’t see though.