As you approach the springtime, you might be carving out time to sort through your cabinets and closets, discarding the items in your home that you don’t need anymore. But spring cleaning can benefit us at work, too. Oftentimes, when we’ve been at our jobs for so long, we don’t pause to question if the tasks we’re spending our time on –– or the meetings we’re routinely attending –– are serving us or our team any longer. 

“Over time, we often have tasks added to our plate, but we don’t always take time to step back and to make sure that what is on our plate is still the most important,” Elizabeth Grace Saunders, time management coach and the author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment and Divine Time Management, tells Thrive. More employees need to be comfortable “taking ownership over their workload and delegating or dropping tasks that aren’t serving them or their teams anymore.” Plus: doing so can make you happier. “When employees can take some ownership over what they spend their time on, they’re likely to be more motivated and stay at the company longer,” adds Elana Feldman, Ph.D., assistant professor of management at the University of Massachusetts Lowell Manning School of Business. 

If you need some help decluttering your workload, here are three expert-backed tips to try:

Create a list of all of your current priorities. 

Oftentimes, we do so many different things on any given day that we don’t actually have them written down anywhere. But when we take time to re-evaluate what we’re dedicating our efforts toward, we can deprioritize what’s no longer working, and find more valuable ways to spend our time. “The first step of spring cleaning should be taking stock of what tasks you’re already doing,” Feldman says. “A lot of people think they know what they’re doing with their time, but we know from research that we often get caught up in things.” Feldman suggests making some time to make a list of your current tasks and responsibilities. “Step one is asking: What am I doing? How much time am I spending on each task, and what does that really look like?” she adds. “Get a clear picture of where your starting point is.”

Have an open conversation with your manager

Asking your manager to have them weigh in on what you can declutter from your workload can help you get some clarity on what you should be prioritizing. “Someone who doesn’t do your job may not understand how long certain items take and/or how many impromptu requests come up throughout your day,” Saunders says. “Do they want you to spend less time on certain items? drop them? hire contract help? or renegotiate expectations?” Having an honest conversation about your current workload can help you and your manager get on the same page and re-prioritize together. 

Consider the tasks that energize you, and the ones that don’t

When it comes to spring cleaning, it’s important to look at what you’re currently doing, and ask yourself which of your tasks bring you joy, meaning, and purpose –– and which feel depleting, or not necessary to keep doing anymore. Researchers call this idea “job crafting,” and Feldman suggests trying it by asking yourself which of your tasks energizes you. “It might be the work that you really love, work that’s helping you meet your goals or your team’s goals, or maybe it’s the people that you get to work with for a particular task,” she says. “And then you can think about which tasks you might find less motivating and could be done by someone else. Ask yourself if there are some that don’t really need to be done at all anymore, or maybe don’t need to be done as much.” When you take time to notice how much time you’re spending on a task that isn’t helping you or your team, it might be a sign that it’s time to take it off your plate.


  • Rebecca Muller Feintuch

    Senior Editor and Community Manager


    Rebecca Muller Feintuch is the Senior Editor and Community Manager at Thrive. Her previous work experience includes roles in editorial and digital journalism. Rebecca is passionate about storytelling, creating meaningful connections, and prioritizing mental health and self-care. She is a graduate of New York University, where she studied Media, Culture and Communications with a minor in Creative Writing. For her undergraduate thesis, she researched the relationship between women and fitness media consumerism.