Start by clearing out the entire thing: the top and whatever’s in the drawers, so you can really see what you have. While everything’s off the top and out of the drawers, give the whole thing a good dusting.
Then let the purging begin. Yes, this includes those old catalogues, magazines, and newspapers. (For the really compulsive: If it’s just too hard to throw the entire pile away, take a quick look through and rip out any articles you’re just dying to read. Then recycle the rest.)
Remove anything work or home-administration related (like your bills). Put these where they belong -- in your office, at your kitchen desk, or wherever you’ve set up bill command central -- which, by the way, definitely should not be next to your bed. That’s the no-stress zone.
Clean out all that old stuff that’s somehow accumulated – you know, the three old cough drops, $1.27 in coins, and -- oh! That’s where they all went! -- 13 ballpoint pens.
Now, there should be room on your bedside table for what you really need: a few pieces of current reading material (the rest goes in recycling or on your bookshelf), a small lamp, a pen and paper, your clock, maybe a small dish for jewelry and anything else you regularly use just before bed or upon waking.
Keep a trashcan by your bed to prevent the impulse to throw dirty tissues, cough drop wrappers, or other junk onto your bedside table or into the drawer.
Now that you're ready to clean things up, find out how to buy new bedside tables.