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Spring Makeover for your Study- Clean up your Paperwork

Updated on February 1, 2015
Is your office a mess?
Is your office a mess?

Get your Home Office in Shape

Spring is a perfect time to put your best foot forward.

Forget those half-baked New Year Resolutions, plan on leaping into Spring with a fresh new look for a fresh new season - in your Home Office.

While most of us concentrate on spring-cleaning our houses, don't overlook your home work area. How much time do you spend in your home office? How much time do you spend looking for things?

I hate looking for things, I have to clean, cull and organise my paperwork!

Messy Paperwork
Messy Paperwork

How messy is your home study?

You may have your home study under the stairs or tucked in a corner somewhere. Even more reasons to keep it under control.

I'm lucky enough to have a whole room, complete with a window overlooking the garden. My children have left and I've converted a former messy teenager's room into my home office but, I hate to confess, at times my study can be just as messy as it was before. There may not be smelly socks and muddy football jumpers but I can build up an impressive array of paper placed haphazardly in trays.

Oh, those pieces of paper ...

It's just so easy for paperwork to get out of control, I'm guilty of scribbled notes, phone bills and magazine clippings mixed up in a tray with important documents.

Often I'm downright ashamed of my home office. When visitors drop in, I shut the door!

Are you sometimes like me? Let's redo our home offices together - it's time for a complete spring clean.

Let's start with that paperwork!

How's your Paperwork looking?

Is your Paperwork organised?

See results
Stack of Files
Stack of Files

Empty it out

Let's start with all the paperwork we have. Remember the old notion that the computer would lead to a paperless office? I don't know about you, but it seems to have created more paper for me.

To clean, cull and organise the paperwork takes time. Plan for a good three hours, uninterrupted.

  1. Take everything out of each drawer. Take everything out from your filing cabinet.
  2. Take some clean cloths, damp and dry, and wipe down all your drawers, cabinets and desk space.
  3. Go through the contents of each drawer and throw out what you don't need or use. This is the hardest to do and also the most satisfying.

I hate looking for things!

IRIS Small Desktop Stacking Drawer, 6 Pack
IRIS Small Desktop Stacking Drawer, 6 Pack

Transparent containers make great little desktop containers. You can see what's inside so you can go straight to what you want. They look good on the desk too.


First - Clean your desk

Have a look at your desk.

If there are no coffee cups, orange peels or other superfluous junk on your desk that doesn't mean it's clean.

Take away all those loose pens, boxes of paper clips, mail from last week and overstuffed trays or folders. If you have drawers in your desk they should have compartments like a cutlery drawer, why not pick up a cutlery organiser for your desk drawer? They're very handy for pens, highlighters, scissors and all the other bits and pieces that end up being thrown any old way into any old place.

How much time do you spend looking for these things?

Clean, Cull, Organise!

Organise your Paperwork

It's easy to say clean and cull your paperwork but, if you start with a solid plan in mind, it can be done.

Let's look at those papers you've just pulled out from your desk, filing cabinet and/or those boxes of files on the shelf.

  1. Is it current?

    Are you working on it right now? You have to keep all paperwork relating to current projects but they could probably do with some sub-folders. The last thing you need are miscellaneous bits of paper thrown in with important papers. Why not have a 'Miscellaneous' sub folder inside your Current Project folder?

File your work away - This makes it easier to find!

Akro-Mils 66486 FILEB 12-Gallon Plastic Storage Hanging File Box with Attached Lid, 21-1/2-Inch by 15-Inch by 12-1/2-Inch, Semi-Clear, Pack of 1
Akro-Mils 66486 FILEB 12-Gallon Plastic Storage Hanging File Box with Attached Lid, 21-1/2-Inch by 15-Inch by 12-1/2-Inch, Semi-Clear, Pack of 1

You don't need a fancy filing cabinet to organise your paperwork - files in storage boxes are just as efficient. As well as taking up less space, they can even look more attractive!


Organise your Paperwork - Family Records

File your family documents

Having a family means piling up document after document! I read once that Eleanor Roosevelt had a filing cabinet for each child but even though I had the same number of children, a filing cabinet for each one would be beyond me. Apart from the cost, I've never had the space all those filing cabinets would take. File boxes are just as efficient.

  1. One file box should be enough for these records. Have a separate file for each child with birth certificates, school records, medical records and all the other important documents safely filed away. Have a file for your spouse and don't forget yourself!

Organise your Paperwork - Legal Documents

Safely store all legal documents

Any warranties, licenses or any document that's legally binding has to be stored safely but not so safe that you can't find it quickly!

Store Important Documents

Bankers Box STOR/FILE Storage Boxes, Standard Set-Up, Lift-Off Lid, Letter/Legal, Case of 12 (00703)
Bankers Box STOR/FILE Storage Boxes, Standard Set-Up, Lift-Off Lid, Letter/Legal, Case of 12 (00703)

You won't be pulling these files out on a daily, or even weekly, basis. Have them stored where you can put your hands on them when needed. Believe me, this saves you a lot of stress.


  1. If you run a licensed/registered business from home a storage box is a necessity. All the legal documents have to be kept separate from any other documents.
  2. You also need a storage box for the documents relating to your house such as mortgage or rent payments, tradesmens' bills and receipts etc. This storage box is a perfect spot to file bills/receipts (such as energy bills) for your home over the last 6 months. Think sub-folders, sub-folders.
  3. Don't forget those warranties on your appliances!

Organise your Paperwork - Tax Records

  1. Store your tax records safely. If you have a receipt or any document relating to tax requirements, lock it up! When that time of year comes around, you have to be able to put your hands on your tax paperwork straight away. If you think that a document should be in your 'House' folder, make a copy.

Beautifully Organised Home Office

Lots of light, lovely atmosphere and documents filed in storage boxes!

The Clutter Diet

I recommend the Clutter Diet. You know what they say, one day at a time ....

Review your Paperwork Regularly

I try to make an hour once a week to review my files and to go through my sloppy in-tray. Sometimes that may be only once a fortnight but I know that the trick to organised paperwork is to review it regularly.

Weed out those files and papers you won't be using daily or even weekly. Only keep documents that you're currently using - retire the rest to a storage box.

Every six months (put it in your diary) review what's in your storage box. Some files can be transferred or thrown out altogether.

Go back to reading Spring Makeover for your study

© 2013 Susanna Duffy

Your Comments

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    • SusannaDuffy profile imageAUTHOR

      Susanna Duffy 

      4 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I'd love to hire someone to fix up my paperwork and to keep it fixed up!

    • mariacarbonara profile image


      5 years ago

      Every once in a while I give my study a spring clean and get it all sorted, but then it all seems to move back to being a mess again

    • faeriesong7 profile image

      Mary Collings 

      5 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      I dream of being organised. If I'm ever lucky enough to earn enough to give up the day job I WILL get organised...

    • rattie lm profile image

      rattie lm 

      5 years ago

      I need to hire someone to do my paper work. I hate doing it.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      5 years ago from Canada

      I think I need a bigger office area. More drawers and shelves for my personal use would sure help to improve the organization of my little office space.


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