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Before and After – Organising My Paperwork Area

my paperwork area before and afterMy paperwork needed sorting.

There, I’ve said it!

The systems were in place, and we knew where everything was so we could find things easily – but it wasn’t as organised as I would have liked (or as pretty!)

So – heres the befores and afters, with all my thinking behind what I did – I really hope that it helps you to go through the A.D.O.R.E process more easily in your own home, and that you can take away some of the ideas.

So here goes!

A = Assess

The area that works for us as a family to have our daily paperwork is in our kitchen.

To give you a brief overview, the kitchen in my home is an L shape and splits really well into 3 zones – dining, kitchen and a third zone that can be a host of different things (and will change over the years as my daughter grows up).

Currently the zone has her play table in it with all her toys in a basket, and artwork on show etc… – its her space really and its great as I can keep an eye on her while shes creating her next masterpiece!

However, there is a large chimney breast in this area that has an alcove either side of it, which I have taken to be an ideal place to house our daily paperwork (post, work, diary, diary add on file, school info, home file etc….).

I chose this area for housing all the daily paperwork because its the room I spend a lot of my time in, so its handy, yet still out of the way, and I had everything hidden from view as the alcove it sits in is behind a door thats always open – VERY handy.

NB – I house my filing in my office as this is the most appropriate place for that – and i file everything I need to once a month so its not used on a daily basis – we’ll get to that in a bit!

This space still is the best place in the house for our paperwork , but it wasn’t working for us as I’m sure you can see from the before picture below:-

Organising my paperwork area - BEFORE

Here are some of the issues I found with the space (you can follow by the numbers I have added to the picture – hope that helps!)

1 – This is a white wall mounted unit that we kept keys, pens, vouchers etc…. inside – and the odd picture on the front!!! It ended up being kind of like our junk drawer though, and wasn’t really doing what it needed to do

2 – wasted space – the top of the unit ended up having piles of paperwork to go through as my work merged with home stuff – we knew what was there but it was too messy looking and jarred with the organiser in me!

3 – This was a piece of furniture that happened to fit the space so we moved it there for a while and as with most things, it stayed! It did have slots for paperwork, but these were open to the back so sometimes we lost papers down the back which was frustrating

4 – This is my daughters area. one day we will reclaim and put a lovely wood burner in, but Its hers for now! – theres a big trunk for her toys to be hidden away but accessible, and her artwork is on each of the three small walls inside the fireplace so she can see them – It worked pretty well except the trunk was very easy to put things on top of (which you can see here was the case!)

5 – This is my daughters star chart – worked fine but was a bit of a waste of space there

6 – The wall to the right of the alcove was wasted space and could have been utilised better rather than left blank

7 – on top of the white crates was school information, general bits and pieces, and a jar for collecting loose change – no real issues just again a little messy for my liking

8 – The 2 crates were both originally wine racks – but I had taken the top one apart so it could house my daughters lunch box and school file – again worked OK

9 – Lastly – we still need a wine rack somewhere – so this fit its purpose!!!

What are the main issues?

The main issue I had with the space is that theres a lot of wasted space and not enough storage. The left hand alcove was inadequate for purpose and needed to be reorganised.

We also wanted to add in a printer and shredder into the space to act a little more as a mini home office for when my husband works at home occasionally, which obviously couldn’t be done at the moment with how it was laid out.

Whats the plan?

My plan was to add in shelves fit for purpose in the alcove to the left, suitable for what we needed to store (shredder, TO FILE, Printer and paper, hubbys laptop, in trays, Home file, Diary and Diary Add on File, space for storing my current client work) , declutter the fireplace area, and rejig the right hand alcove slightly to make it more streamlined.

D = Declutter and Clean

So of course – the first actual work to be done was to  declutter and clean.

I took everything away from the space and sorted it out to ensure that what was left was what needed to be there only.

It was a good time as well to sort out my daughters toys and artwork – giving away toys that were too young for her, and filing away some of her older art to make way for new peices.

Everything was cleaned thoroughly as well – naturally! ;o)

O = Organise

The next step to getting the space organised was to draw up where exactly I wanted the shelves to be.

I took the list of everything I needed to house in the space, made a note of their heights and size, and measured the alcove too.

I then sat and drew out several versions of a plan until I had one that worked really well for us (where things were at the right height to be used easily on a day to day basis)

A joiner then simply followed the plan and hey presto – usable shelves were installed – HOORAH!

Quick tips – we made the shelves out of MDF as this doesn’t warp and is really strong. We also added in round holes at the back of the 2 bottom shelves to allow for a plug and wire to go through from the socket at the bottom of the wall to where the printer would be housed – this kept all the wires out of the way and tidy.

So heres what it looked like once I put everything back in the place I had planned:-

Paperwork Area Organised - After

The after pictures were taken on a bright day so the decor hasn’t changed, just the lighting!

1 – the whole of the alcove is now utilised with no wasted space, as the shelves were put at the right height for what was going on each of them. At the top I have put all my work files with current client work in so I can grab quickly.

2 – This is a space for my husbands laptop and a small basket of general office bits such as stapler, holepunch etc… it also houses his laptop cable

3 – my diary, home file, diary add on file, drawer for work receipts for my end of month books, and then notepads to the side.

4 – The printer now has a space to fit here – its wireless so perfect for wherever we are working in the house, and the spare paper is to the side of it.

5 – A basket in try for my daughters schoolwork/letters etc…, and a proper in tray with sections for each of our post incoming, outgoing items, and a tray for cheque books etc….

6 – A box for filing, a second box for shredding, and the shredder (which is always unplugged and cable taken away (in basket of cables) until needed so that its safe when my daughter is in the house of course.

7 – My daughters area is now very much decluttered, with only a few pieces of her art on the wall as a gallery, and her star chart on the left hand side wall and her calendar chart on the right side – everything accessible for her (and she loves sitting in here too!)

8 – I moved the wall unit from the left to the right hand alcove as this balance the space well – and we just have a few bits in here now – all sorted!

9 – on the wall to the right we now have a small peg board where my daughters most recent work from school can hang, or a letter from school about homework that needs to be done over the hols etc….

10 – On top of the crates now theres very little – just a coin jar still, and a small tray to house the shopping list and pen

11 – I actually reinstated the wine grid that I had taken out as thi makes it match the bottom one, and actually having 4 sections works well for my daughters school items – its at a level that she can grab it as well which helps!

12 – the wines still there ;o)

Kitchen Paperwork Area Before Organising   Kitchen paperwork area after organising

R = Real Life

So, we have a much more streamlined and functional space now, that works for the whole family really well – with everyone having a space for what they need.

I particularly like that the right hand side houses all the things that we need to grab regularly, and a lot is hidden away, whereas the shelving on the left side is more open but always hidden by the door – so you’d never know it was there (indeed a friend who has been round numerous occasions hadn’t a clue that the space was there at all!)

We are now living with it as it is for a while to ensure that it works for us as we hope, and if at this point it is OK then I may go and get some organising products to make things look slightly better, and hide away a few more bits – but to be honest I have been able to utilise bits from my main office and they work fine – Its all about only getting products if you really need to – and not creating more clutter if you can help it!

E = Evaluate

119. my paperwork area organised at last!I am really happy with the transformation – it has helped us to maintain the system we have in place for all our paperwork, and at this point nothing has needed changing (the beauty of the ADORE method!)

We will of course evaluate after a few months though just to be sure!

So – what do you think?

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