From the August 1999 issue of Startups

Who's in charge--you or your possessions? Take a few minutes to calculate how much time, money and emotion you waste on equipment, reference materials and information you no longer use. A quick check of figures should make it easy for you to toss, donate or, better yet, recycle any unnecessary items floating around your office.

Remove all dinosaurs. Are you using outdated equipment or old versions of computer programs? Calculate how much time you're wasting using slow equipment and programs with limited capabilities. Computer prices are falling daily, so determine what your time is worth and whether you can afford to waste time each day using unproductive equipment and software.

Unfortunately, you can't read everything. Don't get caught up in information overload and the need to keep every magazine, newsletter and newspaper you receive. If you know you'll never read something, get rid of it. If you ever need an article from a past issue of a publication, you can often get it online or via that old standby, the library's microfilm collection.

Fight the fear of purging. Don't fear you'll need something again, the minute you throw out or give it away. Keep in mind that if you have too much in your office, when you need something really important, you may not be able to find it.

Not everything has to be "used up." You replaced your IBM Selectric long ago with a computer, yet can't bare to part with the old clunker. If you're still using a typewriter to complete forms, consider replacing it with a scanner. Then you can scan the form, complete it on your computer and print it.

And finally, think before you buy. Do you really need one more file cabinet, desk or piece of equipment? Don't give in to impulse. You'll reduce time spent shopping, save money that could be spent elsewhere and eliminate aggrevation over what to do later with an unnecessary purchase.

To Toss Or Keep?

Take our "Toss or Keep" test for the item in question.

1. Have you used this item within the past year?

2. Is it serving a specific purpose?

3. Do you have a place to store it where you can easily find it again?

If you answered no to any of these questions, consider giving the item away. If you decide to keep the item, make sure you can find it when you need it.

Wrist Easy

Is your work a pain in the wrist? If you're suffering from wrist pain, carpal tunnel syndrome or "over-mousing," the Easy Glide Wrist Rest and Mouse Pad from Fellowes can help. The oversized mouse pad (1 1/2" x 10" x 12") has a gliding gel wrist rest attached at its base. You simply rest the palm of your hand on the wrist rest, place the mouse on the attached mouse pad and start working. The Easy Glide Wrist Rest and Mouse Pad is $24.99 and can be purchased at major computer and office retail stores.

Lisa Kanarek (http://www.everythingsorganized.com) is a home office organizing expert and author of several books, including Organizing Your Home Office For Success (Blakely Press) and 101 Home Office Success Secrets (Career Press).