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Organize your office. Take the challenge

In part three  of a special four-week series on TODAY, lifestyle expert Elizabeth Mayhew offers daily tasks for tackling your home's clutter.

Getting organized is all about saving time and with simple clutter-busting assignments that you can do in bite-size chunks, it’s so easy to get going, you might actually want to get started right away! In week three of a special four-part series on TODAY, lifestyle expert Elizabeth Mayhew tackles the third set of assignments — your office!
Here are her tips:

Day 1: Sort and Shred

Your Assignment: To take stock of those stacks.

  • First thing you should do is to take stock of those stacks of paper. Elizabeth suggests using your dining room table for this task: the big surface allows you to spread out and sort.
  • Sort papers into two piles: store or shred.  Shred anything you don't need
  • Be tough on papers... many home offices are a dumping ground for miscellaneous items in the house. There is no question that sorting through these papers, pictures, receipts, bills and magazines can take you down memory lane and also be a source of major anxiety. 
  • If you can get the information you are saving on paper from the Internet, then throw the paper away.  When it comes to personal items, here more than anywhere you need to think like an archivist; decide what's really important and what's not. (For example, keep a meaningful, handwritten note from your grandmother, but do you really need to keep the birthday card with the pre-printed good wishes signed "Love, Grandma"?).  
  • Clean out your files yearly. Your can shred monthly bill and bank statements once your year-end statement arrives.  Just make sure you never, ever get rid of your tax records.

Things you might need: ShredderFrom West Elm:Parson's desk, $279; T desk white leather chair, $239; Cadman file cabinet, $179; Flax canvas boxes, from $19- $59; Trellis canvas boxes, from $19-$34; Swing arm table lamp, $89; Linden shelf, $89 From Container Store:  Recycled rubber bulletin board, $34.99; Cable ID's, $6.99; Erasable label hanging file folders, $9.99 for 20; Cord control kit, $14.99; Super tacks, $3.99 for 20; Flashing memo holder, $1.99; Mesh wastebasket, $9.99; Mesh letter tray, $3.99Time you will save: There is no question that this is one of the hardest assignments ... we are tied to our papers and going through them often takes us down memory lane leading to various emotions and anxiety.  However, today you will tackle the first step to gaining HOURS of lost time.  Think of all the time (and energy) you waste sifting through stacks of paper, not to mention the toll that those stacks take on your brain just worrying about all that you have to do.  In my estimation this day is priceless in reclaimed time, but for the sake of the challenge, I would say you save 15 minutes per day - over 5,000 minutes per year!