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Five Ways to Declutter Your Work Space (Without Throwing All Your Stuff Away!)

Boost your productivity with these five easy organization tips.

The home office can be a hoarding place for all those barely-looked items. While the kitchen, laundry room, and even the whole house might seem like high priorities, things you move from there can often find a way into the office. Here are 5 tips for decluttering your home office.

Edit, Edit, Edit Don’t throw out your stuff, but DO throw out what you know you don’t need. Junk mail, paper bills, and old newspapers are the bane of the office environment, taking up valuable space without offering any real service. Take a hard look at your paper piles, desk drawers, and file folders, and consider this: Do you really need those tax returns from 1992? Or that pocket brochure you picked up on your last vacation? Sort, recycle, shred—do whatever you need to do to get this unnecessary paperwork out of your space, stat.

Convert to Digital Once your paper stash has been purged, figure out what makes sense to digitize. Obviously, some things need to remain in physical form—birth certificates, Social Security cards, sentimental birthday letters, etc.—but remember that a folder on your computer desktop is a lot smaller than a folder in your filing cabinet, so consider using a scanner to digitize old documents you may need to access in the future. When that’s complete, recycle or shred the physical documents.

Buy Quality Organizational Supplies Let’s face it: That trapper keeper you used in 7th grade—now bulging with unopened credit card statements and faded recipe tear-outs—doesn’t cut it if you want to be a full-fledged, organized adult. Invest in a sturdy filing system, roomy magazine bins, and drop-in drawer organizers with lots of handy slots to corral pens, paper clips, and other loose odds-and-ends.

Clean Off Your Desk Productivity is at its finest when one feels hopeful about tackling tasks—notwhen one feels that they’re snowed under with too much work. To keep that positive, productive feeling alive, make sure your desk is clean at the end of every day. Designate a single desktop bin for in-process projects—like a bill that needs to be paid, or a greeting card that needs to go out—thinking of it as a physical “to-do” list. Flip through at least once a week to stay on top of your most urgent tasks.

Put Necessities in Easy Reach Now that your desk is under control, look at your office space with an eye for how you use it. Place stuff you use regularly (pens, a blank pad of paper, stamps, etc.) in a nearby drawer or in a cute desk organizer, and banish less-used items (scissors, tape, hole-punchers) to a labeled box in the closet. If you don’t use your computer every day, consider moving it off the desk, creating a cleaner workspace. Put reference books and files on a bookshelf on the other side of the room, and utilize empty wall space to hang an oversized family calendar, bulletin board, or slim wall-mounted filing folders.

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