Tired of looking at all the junk on the surfaces and floor in your workspace? Of course most of it is actually work files that need better systems, but what about the real junk? If you haven’t created an easy system for your junk, how can you expect to create an easy system for your files? Whether it’s as complex as managing several simultaneous projects or as simple as tossing junk, all organizing systems rely on the same simple formula:


If your trash-can is so small that it is filled up by lunch time then it is NOT an appropriate structure. Whatever your tossing habit is, it will be discouraged by the overflowing trash-can. You’ve got more important things to do than tamp down the trash, let alone run the contents downstairs to the dumpster in the middle of the day. Make sure there is always a generous room for growth in your structures.

Also, if you care about separating between trash, recycle, and shred, one trash-can’s not going to cut it. In the photo above, you can see the three bin system I keep below my work surfaces. Black is always trash, blue is always recycle, and box is always shred. Easy. It’s inviting to use this system, which makes it easier to use than not use. That’s when you know you’ve got a good system.

But it doesn’t quite stop there. You’ll notice the paper bag in the blue bin. A good system always takes the NEXT step into consideration. I KNOW that I have to take the contents down to the garage for recycling and I KNOW I’m going to want to multitask the trip, so I make the contents AS EASY AS POSSIBLE to grab with a free hand.

Actually it doesn’t stop there. Bear with me please. I know the handles will make for easy grabbing, but I also know they may get in the way of tossing papers. That’s why they’re folded down. I also know the paper bag may sit in the garage for a while and in the meantime paper still needs to get into the blue bin. For this reason I keep a second paper bag folded in the bottom of the bin.

Starting to sound a little obsessive? Wouldn’t be the first time. The point here is to REMOVE THE BARRIERS. All of them. I have created a structure for my disposal that ensures the easiest of habits. This combination of appropriate structure and easy habit ensures the most effective system. When you have an effective system you find yourself WANTING to use it.

When you master this combination with the simplest systems you can start to understand what is required for your more complex systems.

TODAY’S KEY TO UNLOCKING CLUTTER: Start by creating an EZ Pass for your junk.