A wonderful room if used properly and not simply used as an odds n sods room or a dumping ground for old paperwork.
If you get your study decorated beautifully and ensure it’s practical to use, then not only can it make working in a pure joy, it can save you a lot of money renting office space if self- employed.
My study in my home is probably the most important room to me and it’s imperative that when I walk into the study every morning that it’s neat, welcoming and beautifully decorated to look after me for the work day ahead.
But let’s be honest, where there is paper work, there is going to be clutter, so a study does need to be regularly decluttered PLUS assessed to ensure that it’s practically doing its job properly for you.
- The desk is set up properly and is big enough.
- You have a good quality chair.
- Good Wi-Fi connection.
- It has good storage that look nice but is practical to use.
- Properly ventilated and lit so you can perform to your optimum.
- Free from distractions and has adequate privacy.
- It contains some plants for good oxygen production.
But before we get to the part of making sure your study is decorated nicely, let’s get it decluttered. I find many studys are cramped with old printers fighting for space on a desk overflowing with old paper work! So, it may take some time to do properly.
But let’s start.
- Loose paper work
Let’s get the really boring stuff over and done with first.
Dreaded paper work.
Go into the study with a box or bin bags and grab all the loose paperwork you can find. Dump it into box and take into the dumping ground room (dg) and sit and go through it.
Split into 3 piles:
- Shred / Bin / Burn.
- Action (where you need to do something – phone bank for example).
First the shred / bin / burn pile: Do what you need to do now.
Second is the keep pile: Either place in a neat pile to be filed later on (if no filing system exists) or go back into the study and file in your existing system.
Lastly is the action pile: ACTION what needs to be done as appropriate and then file or dispose of immediately.
TIP: Keep insurance paperwork for as long as the policy is valid, keep old bills & bank statements for about two years (I’ve gone paperless with my bank statements) and the HMRC recommends keeping tax stuff for about two years OR scan everything and store online.
Legal paperwork, Wills, Power of Attorneys, job contracts, title deeds need to obviously be kept permanently.
Professional paperwork must be kept for at least 6 years.
As I said above, a good way around keeping lots of paperwork is to scan and store electronically. It’s only really the important legal documents, such as will etc that I recommend you need to physically keep.
Basically, common sense prevails.
- Filing System
Before we even start with the decluttering, it’s really important to establish a good filing system ready for when your study has been transformed.
Go into your study and empty the filing cabinet. Now methodically go through the files and pull out all of those old pieces of paper work and action as per the above section: file (so keep them filed), dispose or action
Then, assess the filing system you have, does it contain all the files you need? Is it practical to use? Do you physically like the filing cabinet?
If you like the filing cabinet, great, clean inside the cabinet, add anymore files that you need and put your filing back in place, including keep filing from section 1.
If you don’t like your filing system, now is the time to change it. Empty all your files neatly into the dg and find yourself a nice new filing cabinet / system. Ideally, go out and buy what you need now and finish the filing system totally OR order what you need and then carry on with the study declutter whilst waiting for your order to arrive.
Now, go back and look around the study. What other types of filing do you have? Box files? Boxes? Book shelves filled with ring binders?
Move them into the dg and methodically go through them. As per the filing above, keep what you need and ditch what you don’t need. Now assess the ring binders, box files etc. Do you want to keep them or replace with new?
If you want to buy new stuff, please go out and do this now and complete this section. Or order what you need and the in the meanwhile, neatly pile up the filing in the dg. If your keep old box files etc, fine, put paperwork back in them and keep in the dg.
- Furniture Assessment
Now assess the furniture in the study. Remember only have pieces of furniture in there that you love or are of practical use! The key thing in a study being your desk and chair.
Is your desk practical? Is it big enough for your purpose? Is the desk set up safe? For this I need you to refer to this web page and take a look at the desk set up diagram.
Do you need a riser and separate keyboard for your lap top, do you need to get a better-quality chair?
What about the other furniture in the room? Assess them for love or practical purpose.
Those items that you don’t love or have no practical purpose (btw, if it’s practical and you don’t like the look of the furniture, can it be replaced with something more aesthetically pleasing?) need to go. Immediately.
Deal with them now, along with their contents, put as much as you can into the dg.
All those pieces you want to keep, empty their contents and deal with them appropriately and if you can move furniture into another room whilst you give your study a good clean even better.
Look around the study and place any other stray belongings your keeping into the dg.
TIP: Be ruthless when it comes to electronics. Don’t keep random old fax machines and spare printers, you don’t need them! Only keep those things that you use remember.
Now go back into the study and give it a good clean.
Include windows, window frames, skirting boards, lights, inside furniture, behind furniture, underneath furniture, mirrors, picture frames. Everywhere.
Obviously, also clean the furniture.
Go into the dg and clean all your belongings you’re keeping.
- Analysis of space
Now your study is clean and tidy, look around and now analyse if you would like to rearrange furniture? It sometimes helps to draw out scenarios on a piece of paper. If you’ve got the energy, have a play around. Move furniture around and see what you like.
Finalise where you would like your furniture to be placed.
Do you need more furniture? Now is the time to buy whatever you may be missing. But remember to measure up properly.
Also, does the study need decorating? Ok you don’t have to decorate right now (be great if you did though!!) but this is the time to sit back and get inspired. Wall paper works wonderfully in a dining room btw!!
- The put back
Firstly, place your furniture back.
Then go into the dg and start to place your belongings back into the study, cleaning your belongings as you do. It’s normal to not put everything back at this stage btw. After a declutter and big clean, you may change your mind as to what is appropriate to place back.
As you place items back, as per the analysis of space above, play around with where you put things. Don’t automatically put things back in the same place as before
Study declutter complete!
I leave you with:
“When we clear the physical clutter from our lives, we literally make way for inspiration, and good orderly direction to enter.” – Julia Cameron
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