5 Items In Your Desk You Can Throw Away Right Now!

If sorting art supplies and student work isn’t enough, there is another important area to maintain in the art room, and that is your desk. Most of us keep way too much paperwork on hand, and much of it is unnecessary. In fact, most of our paperwork becomes obsolete quickly, but something inside of us wants to keep hold of it ‘just in case’ we need it again (that is, if we can find it!). This causes stress.

Here are 5 items you can get rid of right now to clear your paper clutter.

paper clutter

1. Lessons from Student Teaching

Come on, if you haven’t done them in 10 years, you will likely never do them, especially when there are so many new ideas out there right at your fingertips online.

2. Old Policies

Last year’s staff handbook? Old insurance policies? These items WERE valuable when they were actually in effect, but now there is a new replacement, so get rid of the old.

3. Old Grade Books

I like to keep these around for at least a year, just in case a grade is in question, but after this timeframe, feel free to shred.

4. Every. Single. Sample.

If you are like me, you’ve often pulled open a lesson folder to find 5 half-done samples that you created while demonstrating. Why do we always keep these? You don’t need them, and they are taking up valuable space. You really only need one complete sample. Even better? Take a photo and digitize it!

5. Printed Emails

When you print an email, it means you will have a digital and a paper copy to keep track of, and that means double the hassle. Only print if it’s really, really important.
Hopefully these ideas will clear some space in your desk drawers and minimize the piles. Remember, a clean desk will equate to a clear mind, so try to clear the top of your desk every night before you leave allowing you to arrive with a fresh space each morning.

Good Luck!

 How do you keep paper clutter and your desk area under control? Let us know in the comments!


Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


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  • Brenda Pace

    First, I would like to say thank you to the AOE community for sharing your priceless ideas & tricks of our profession. This year I am especially focusing on my classroom organization and management. I will be incorporating many of the ideas I have viewed here, and have found these and countless other AOE resources to be extremely valuable.

    That said, I would like to offer an idea I have found useful in regards to discarding my partially started teacher examples of art projects:

    After demonstrating the same beginning step several times in a day, I have found it useful to to keep my partially started examples and develop them into a step-by-step visual guide. Of course it is necessary to add to each example to create the sequence of steps for the assignment/project. However, once this up-front work is accomplished, I number the examples in the order of sequence and store them with a selection of student examples/interpretations/variations, artist examples, and the important historical and societal information to go along with the instructional delivery. The binder clip organizational strategy fits in very nicely here! In addition, by including a list of the learning standards and objectives that the lesson addresses, a teacher has a self-created lesson packet that is comprehensive and can be tweaked over time.

    If you prefer to use a digital files, as Jessica Balsley suggests, to decrease paper clutter, by all means take photographs to be used in a powerpoint presentation (or otherwise).

    This idea is especially beneficial to a student who is a visual learner, or who was absent for the presentation, or who needs his or her directions chunked and repeated. A more simplified version could be adapted for your sub folder.

    Happy New Year, colleagues! I look forward to my time spent on perusing this site!


    Brenda Pace, M. Ed
    Art Instructor
    Intervention Specialist