OA Aunt Q&A – organise home study

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Dear OA Aunt

My study is the first room in the house from the front door. It ends up a “dumping ground” for everything people bring in with them that don’t have homes elsewhere. How do I turn my study from just chaos to organised chaos?

Do you have any “neat” tricks for organising bathroom vanities?

MH in Noranda, Western Australia

OA Aunt’s response:

Thanks for your questions MH, to make it easier I am going to answer this question in two parts, concentrating on your study question today.

Nowadays with the amount of ‘stuff’ we receive daily (especially paperwork!), it is easy for studies and rooms to become overloaded, especially when the room is located near the entrance of your home.

Having a place for everything, using the right storage solutions and creating habits are all ways to help keep your home under control and clutter free.

Here is how I suggest you tackle your study:

  1.  The first step is to get rid of any items that are no longer needed.  It will make the area much easier to organise – follow Finer Details simple de-cluttering tips to do this.  When it comes to paperwork, in general we tend to keep a lot more than we actually need.  If this is an issue you have, I would suggest paying special attention to de-clutterings tips 6 and 7.
  2. If you have followed Finer Details tips, you will now only be left with the items you want to keep.  These items will have been sorted into broad categories that make sense to you.
  3. Look at each category individually, tackling one category at a time.
  4. Further sort the category by grouping similar items together (for example, if you have created a category for stationery, further sort by putting all pens, cartridges, staplers etc together)
  5. Look at each group within the category and do a quick further de-clutter, having a spare is one thing but how many doubles do you really need?
  6. Repeat points 4 and 5 above until you have gone through and further sorted/de-cluttered each category.
  7. Now it’s time to look at how you want to organise your room, to consider your current storage items and whether they really work for you.
  8. Have a look at the current layout of your room; does it really work with where the lighting and electrical sockets are situated.   Do you find it hard to see when you are working at your desk and/or do you have extension cables running across the room?
  9. Also look at why your study currently ends up in a mess.  Do you have your frequently used items in hard to access areas? Do you find it too hard to file things?  Is it because you don’t have a home for some items so it is easier to just dump them?
  10. Are you storing items like memorabilia that you hardly ever look at in the drawers and cupboards that are easiest to access?
  11. Really have a look at the items you have sorted, your current set up and consider your room layout and where to place items you use on a regular basis so that they are easy to access.
  12. Try not to have too much out on surfaces, this will make the area harder to keep tidy and work in.
  13. It is best to keep all your files and papers in one central location, preferably close to the computer if that’s where you are doing the bulk of your work.
  14. If you run a business or have work items in your study, I would suggest you file work related and personal items separately.
  15. Create a filing system that works for you. Think about how often you access the material and how often you need to file information.  Would a filing cabinet with clearly labelled suspension files work for you?  It makes filing very quick.  Or would lever arch files work better?  Remember you need to find time to punch holes into each piece of paper and consider whether this might be why your room currently ends up getting into disarray.  What will be the easiest way for you to find and file information on a regular basis? Then create a file system that works for you. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries to find a system that works perfectly, don’t give up, keep refining your system until you come up with the perfect solution that works for you.  Maybe it’s having a mixture of lever arch files, drawer systems and a filing cabinet. I have added some storage suggestions below.
  16. Label, label, label – labeling will make it much easier to file and locate items
  17. Once you have your study organised, have a look at your habits.  What simple habits can you start to help keep your study tidy?  Putting things away as soon as you have finished with them is a great habit to have…it is so easy to leave something out because you will be using it again soon, but this is also the easiest way for the room to get in a mess again.  If you can’t do this then consider setting aside time at the end of your day to put things away.

Storage suggestions

Would additional shelving help – the below picture is of shelving we used within a walk-in-robe for a business owners home office.

What would be the easiest way to file your paper:

magazine holders, box folders, lever arch folders or plastic folders…

Or small drawer systems…

If a filing cabinet would work for you, would a lateral cabinet work to give you additional surfaces for things like printers?

Do you have an in-tray that doesn’t really work?

If the traditional in-tray doesn’t work would a verticle wire tray work? If you like this idea, consider what information comes into your study and then use labeled plastic folders or manila folders to hold each category.  Eg bills to pay, vouchers, letters to respond to etc

Use things like drawer dividers to help keep your drawers tidy.

Have a set place for everything, consider using containers – it could be box folders, plastic boxes, drawer systems – they are great space maximisers and make areas easier to keep organised.

If I haven’t covered an issue that is really troubling you, please post any questions or comments you have.

I hope this has helped MH

If you are happy to share your experience with others, take an after photo and send them through 🙂

Please post any questions you may have on the above process. 

If you live in the Perth area and want help sorting your home study or any other room – contact Finer Details now

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