Do you have boxes jam-packed with stuff in your office? Is it hard to tell what you need to keep and what you need to pitch? Answer these 7 questions to help you know what needs to go.

1.       Do I use it?

Go ahead. Peek inside of one of your storage boxes. What’s inside? Do you use any of the items? Unless an item has special meaning to you, if you don’t use it—and don’t need to store it for seasonal events—it needs to go.

2.       When is the last time I used it?

You pull out a one-pound paperweight a former boss gave you in 1985. There’s no draft in your office—not a chance of papers blowing about. You haven’t used it since… Well, come to think of it, you’ve never used it. Time to say “good-bye.” (Note: If you haven’ t used something in a year, consider letting it go.)

3.       Do I need it?

Don’t worry. You don’t have to give everything in the box to your favorite charity. When you examine your stuff, think about which things you actually need. Did you find a sleeping bag bunched up in your office closet? Great. Store it in your garage for the next time you go camping.

4.       Does it make me more productive?

Scan the things on your desk. They should all be things you need to be able to grab in a flash to increase your productivity. You don’t want to spend 10 minutes running around your office looking for your cell phone. But get rid of anything that doesn’t lead to greater productivity. Like that pocket calculator you never use.

5.       Do I have more than one of this item?

Do you have three sets of stackable in-and-out boxes crammed in a corner? Are there two extra file cabinets that remain empty? If these items aren’t necessities—such as pens—pare down how many you own. If you bought four organizer containers for your last round of office cleaning but they’re just collecting dust, pass them on to someone who will use them.

6.       Does it bring me joy?

Do you have a vase on your window ledge that you love to put tulips in during the spring? Keep it! Do the framed photos of ocean sunsets on the walls brighten your days? Hang on to them. But keep looking around your office. You may also find things that don’t bring you joy. How about that espresso-brown push-button phone with the 10-foot cord that you inherited from the last occupant? Put it in the charity bin.

7.       Is this information available on the Internet?

Are there articles and papers spilling out of your file cabinets? Are you scared to get rid of a piece of information because you might need it “someday”? Check to see if the information you want to keep is easily accessible online. For example, at a career conference, you picked up an article, “Top 7 Tips to Leap Beyond Fear of Success,” that you want to read some day. You discover it’s readily available on the Internet, so you recycle the paper copy.

Start to recognize why you keep things. Don’t just organize—let go before you organize. Practice the art of getting rid of more than you think you can. Trust that if you need something again in the future you’ll have the resources to get it.

Author's Bio: 

Sue Brenner, Performance Coach and author, wants you to get the most out of life and work. That’s why she wrote "The Naked Desk: Everything you need to strip away clutter, save time and get things done" - . While you’re there, get Sue’s free eZine, "Ignite Your Life!"