Advice / Succeeding at Work / Productivity

5 Things You Should Throw Out Now Instead of Doing Work

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Some days, you’re so amped up for work that you can’t wait to get to your desk and start attacking the day. But on other days, you’re only motivated to eat a breakfast sandwich and catch up on pretty much anything else.

The good news? It happens to everyone. The better news? You don’t have to view these mornings as a waste of time.

What I found was that in many cases, feeling more productive can be as simple as cleaning up your workspace. To get a very “meh” day off on the right foot, here are a few things you can (and should) toss in the trash right now.

1. All the Trash on Your Desk

How many times have you walked by a teammate’s desk and thought, “Why is there so much trash on that person’s desk? What does their kitchen at home look like?” And how many of those times have you then returned to your own workspace to find that you haven’t thrown out a coffee cup in over a week.

Unless you thrive in messy conditions, take a few minutes at the beginning of your day to clean up. (Bonus points if you wipe down your desk and keyboard after doing this.)

2. Anything You’ll Never Respond To or Do Anything With

At some point or another, you’ll get a flyer in the mail, or a letter from someone who really wants to sell you something, or a business card. If you’re not a decision maker, this can be flattering. After all, someone at another company thinks you’re the right person to reach out to, so why wouldn’t you keep the proof?

However, it doesn’t take long for these materials to take over your desk. And the truth is that unless you and your boss are legitimately considering a purchase, those materials will just sit there until the end of time.

3. All Those Receipts You’ve Collected

After ordering lunch or picking up some office supplies, it’s easy to take a receipt for your purchase without thinking about it. It’s even easier to do it so many times that you quickly find yourself buried under all the evidence that you’ve been buying salads that are way too expensive for what you’ve gotten.

Unless you’re planning on submitting them for reimbursement (which I know is a completely different challenge), there’s no need to hang on to them.

4. Those Old Post-it Notes You Don’t Need Anymore

I’m a big believer in using handwritten sticky notes to remind myself of tasks that need to be completed. I like leaving them for myself on my computer monitor, especially when I know that I’m bound to forget something I’ve discussed in passing with a teammate. But it only takes a few days for those notes to become irrelevant. And by keeping them around, you only make yourself look like a crazy hoarder.

5. Knick Knacks

There’s nothing wrong with letting your freak flag fly by decorating your desk with a few knick knacks. But at the same time, you don’t want people thinking that you’re hosting a garage sale. I recently went through the painstaking process of putting a few of my favorite desk toys away.

And as terrible as it was, I am appreciating the added (not to mention clean) space. So if your bobbleheads dolls and frames are starting to spill over a bit, start your day by pairing them down to a more manageable number.

So what happens after you’ve thrown these things out? You still might not want to do any work, and that’s OK. Continue the process by really cleaning your area now. Hint: This video was literally made for lazy people who want to take all the desk cleaning shortcuts.

Once you’ve done that, go through all the loose papers you still need and organize them into folders—and find a place for those folders that you’ll actually use. This could go on and on for an entire day, but the good news is that you’ll (probably) get to a point when you’re tired of it and want to get down to business. Either way, it’s a win-win.