Sometimes all you need to organize your home office is decluttering. After all, why should you arrange items that are useless, right? Well, we wish it was so easy to answer. We agree that decluttering is healthy and you should throw out the junk. But how you define junk is the main factor here. If your judgment isn’t right, you might end up regretting throwing out an object.
The basic rule is to not throw out things that have sentimental value to you. It can be pictures, hand-written cards, notes, important documents, and so on. If the item can be recycled in any other way, you shouldn’t get rid of it immediately.
It’s important to remember that not everybody thinks the same way. You have to reevaluate the objects in your office based on your values and emotions. Nonetheless, we are here to help you. Follow our list below to get an initial idea of what not to throw out when decluttering.
5 Things You Should NOT Throw Out When Decluttering
It seems like the modern decluttering trend wants you to eliminate every physical item from your office. There’s even a mantra to go “paperless.” It’s okay to follow any office organizing method you like. But we don’t want you to regret it later. Especially when it’s too late. So, here goes our list of 5 things you should throw out when decluttering.
We have seen people throw out old photographs to achieve a more organized home office. That’s not completely illogical. The first rule of desk decluttering is to get rid of objects you don’t use. And, physical photos top the list.
But what if you regret this decision? After all, some photos are rare and precious. Just because it doesn’t seem to be functional doesn’t mean it’s valueless. That’s why we want you to reconsider your photo frames.
Here’s what you should do instead. Check if you have any duplicates. In that case, you can narrow down the number of pictures on the desk. Avoid decluttering if the photos represent a rare memory with your favorite person.
Finally, if you really want to throw out the photos, at least save a digital copy first. That way, you have the option to retrieve the memory. You are going to thank us later.
2. Family Heirlooms
Oftentimes, we discard old furniture laying in our home office. Even if such furniture is quite useful to an extent, it might not blend with the overall aesthetics. According to the office organizing guidelines, you should replace such old furniture as wooden desks with modern ones.
Suppose you have a 48” mahogany desk with no drawers in your office. If you keep using the desk, you will require several supply caddies to store items. In that case, disposing of the old furniture and getting a new one seems to be more logical.
However, we disagree with that notion. Especially, if the piece is a family heirloom, you should hold on to it as long as you can. Instead of throwing away a wooden desk, bookshelf, or chair, try to repurpose them. For example, you can paint the desks white or black to better suit your office aesthetics. If the furniture becomes totally useless for your home office, move them to another room in your house.
Please, understand that we are not encouraging you to stick with backdated office furnishing. You can definitely buy new furniture (like desks) with more functions. But that doesn’t mean the old one has to go. Take, for example, your old desk comes short to accommodate all your belonging. You must buy a new one with more storage options for an organized and less-cluttered office.
At the same time, you can paint the old desk and reuse it as a study table in your bedroom. Follow this article to learn how you can add more storage to the simple desk. We know you will find more interesting recycling ideas for your furniture if you give some effort. Finally, if you decide to not go through such trouble, donating is always a good option.
3. Old Books
People love collecting books they have read. It intrigues a sense of accomplishment in our minds. But the problem is, your office doesn’t look spacious enough if you have books scattered everywhere. While decluttering, it is recommended to get rid of the books you don’t need daily. But how effective is it?
We have seen many cases where people regret giving away an old book. You don’t know when you are going to need it again. It would be a big hassle to get up from work, leave the office and look for a specific book.
It’s not necessary to get rid of every book on your shelf. Of course, there should be a specific place to store the books. But we don’t want you to throw everything inside a trunk. Just separate the ones you think are really not useful to you anymore. The rest can stay inside your office. Here, “the rest” includes books you occasionally revise, you have read recently plus books you intend to read in the future.
Especially, if you are a procrastinator, it would be a major struggle to get yourself into reading a book that’s far away. You will easily get distracted by something else. The most effective way is to start reading as soon as you make up your mind. That’s only possible if you have arranged the books in the office beforehand.
For that, try to mount shelves on the wall. Arrange the books on the shelves. Or, you can get a separate cabinet for books only. Color coding the books really makes the arrangement look best.
4. Extra Office Supplies
Let’s talk about the stationary items now. The category includes extra markers, pens, writing pads, etc. If you follow the minimalist approach, you will be advised to keep the essential items on the desk. If you have two pens on the pen holder, the extra ones can go, right?
Even if it sounds like the right thing to do, please reconsider. It’s extremely important to store extra stationary items in your home office. Suppose you have only one marker in the desk’s drawer. What if you are away from the desk and want to mark something? That would be a hassle to travel to the desk to get either a pen or marker, right?
That’s why such stationary items should have enough backups in your home office. So, that you can find one near you whenever needed.
Certainly, some stationary items don’t fall into this category. For example, it’s not economically feasible to keep multiple staplers, staple removers, paper cutters, etc within the office. Since you barely use these items throughout the day, it wouldn’t hurt to find them in storage.
5. Hard-To-Replace Documents
The first thing that we want to get rid of is old documents. Papers can take up a huge space from your office desk. But you have to be really careful while assuming the importance of the paper. You shouldn’t just throw away pages that might contain personal or important information.
Here, we are not talking about monthly bills, old notebooks, manuals, etc. The title specifically mentions “hard-to-replace” documents. Suppose you have collected all the tax return documents of previous years. Now, you want a spacious cabinet and want to discard those papers. Even though the idea seems pretty feasible, we would like to advise you otherwise.
You see, tax return papers should be kept for as long as 7 years. It’s for legal purposes. It’s good if you never come across a tax-related complication. However, if you get yourself into some complications, those papers might come in really handy during the investigation.
Plus, such documents are hard to replace. Hence, it’s better to rethink your decision. The same goes for certificates for both academic and non-academic activities. Suppose, you have a certificate to show your participation in a competition. Even if it looks unimportant today, you should keep it inside the drawer. Because there’s no going back once you throw it in a trash bin. It’s almost impossible to get it again.
We know, your cabinet is so full of documents and you might even feel lost. Instead of decluttering such important or hard-to-replace papers, get yourself a separate cabinet with a closed storage option. Binders, filing, and labeling systems work great when it comes to organizing paperwork.
Should You Digitalize Your Office While Decluttering?
The main mantra of this new decluttering culture is to incline towards a digital office. That means any physical tool that has a digital or computerized option should be discarded.
We have seen a lot of offices practicing this rule. The agenda is to compress every office essential for notebooks, pens, diaries to clocks into the computer. So, you have fewer objects to keep on your desk. But, is it okay to go to this length while decluttering?
Honestly, we don’t think it works for everyone. Using your computer for almost every task can cause overstress. It makes you feel like you are working a lot. For example, it’s okay to have a physical clock on the desk. If the ticking sound makes you feel more productive, you shouldn’t throw it out.
The same goes for using a mail-station, sticking paper notes, writing your schedule on a note, etc. There’s no need to hand over these tasks to a digital platform. The ultimate purpose of decluttering is to help you with stress after all.
We believe decluttering is the ultimate way to keep your desk organized irrespective of the work pressure. However, at the same time, you must draw a balance. Don’t throw away items you are fond of just because everyone on the internet is suggesting so.
Before You Go!
How are you planning to organize the pile of documents on the desk properly? Since we have advised you not to throw away old documents, it’s on us to show you the way. So, here’s the guide you need to follow for organizing home office paperwork like a pro.
Thank you so much for staying with us till the end. Happy decluttering!