6 tips and tricks for tidying paper

We are creating home for our EnjoyLife Project this year. The first step is to purge my home of the unnecessary, anything that isn’t useful, beautiful, or loved. I am using the KonMari method, developed by Marie Kondo, a Japanese decluttering guru and author of two book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up {LM} and Spark Joy {SJ}.  So far, I’ve introduced the project, discussed my criteria and completed my clothes (part I and part II) and books.

Graphic. konmari paper

As promised, I am back with my tips and tricks (from Marie and myself) for Konmari(ng) papers. Papers was, by far, the most difficult category for me to tidy. I detailed the experience in a previous post.

Clutter is nothing more than the physical manifestation of indecision. – Marie Kondo

This was never more true for me than with papers.  Most of my paper clutter was from previous lives that I have lived and wasn’t fully ready to let go.  These included the notebooks that I made when I aspired to be hip and thin.  Now I realize that the goal to be hip was probably never that attainable for me in the first place.  And thin, as I had been envisioning it, was probably even less so.  Now, I’m working to feel comfortable in my style choice and to be healthy and so anything that doesn’t pertain to this new direction was out of here.

Additionally, there were papers from my previous careers (administrative support, event planning, project management, and grant writing).  I think I kept them because I wasn’t sure whether I would be doing that work again. I have been so indecisive about the type of work that I wanted to be doing in the world and going through my papers has forced, OK, that might be too strong a word. Going through my paper has strongly encouraged me to commit to the decision of my life’s work. And surprisingly, not surprisingly, it has come down to what will “spark joy”.

TIPS & TRICKS

  1. Bring ALL of your papers into one place. This is very important because it lets you see the sheer volume of all the papers in your home. Staring at it all, I was shocked and appalled and you will probably be surprised, as well.  My papers covered a space that was five feet long and three feet wide.  The stacks stood up to two feet high.  It was very overwhelming.  But I needed to see it-to realize in no uncertain terms how bad it had gotten and that now was the time to do something about it.
  2. Start with the premise that ALL papers will be discarded. You are only choosing what to keep. This was incredibly freeing but also incredibly scary! And to this day, I have a nagging feeling that I have discarded something that am going to need. It hasn’t happened yet, but I am waiting for it.  However, I followed Marie’s advice and kept only the papers for which there was a clear purpose. The rest (four trash bags worth) are gone.
  3. Start with papers that evoke no pleasure. Tax documents, bills, etc. These are fairly easy to deal with. Need it; don’t need it. It’s simple. I used a combination of guidelines from Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey to determine which of my financial records to hang onto. After I did those, I moved onto my other papers.
  4. Save greeting cards, letters, journals, etc. for tidying sentimental. I began to lose steam when I tried to sort things that I was truly sentimental about. I say truly, because I have had a thing for papers since I was a child. I have always had “very important papers” even when they were just literal scribbles because I didn’t know how to write yet.  My mom has a recording of me imploring my sister (ok I was actually yelling) to “get off of my papers!”  I believe I was 5 or 6 at that time. But greeting cards, letters, etc. should NOT be sorted with this category if you have a special affinity for those things and so I have saved them for the sentimental category. 
  5. Create a pending box to handle papers that need to be dealt with later, and keep forging ahead. This is important. Don’t dawdle and linger. If you are not sure, put it aside and keep pushing.  I didn’t do this a few times and lost momentum. And once momentum is gone, it is very difficult to get it back.  Not sure? Put it aside for pass number two or three.  As you keep going, you will begin to “hone your sense” and you’ll know what you need to keep. Which bring me to my final tip.
  6. If you have a lot of papers, it may be necessary to go through it in several rounds. It took me a total of three rounds to know definitively what I was going to keep and what needed to be dealt with.  And after three rounds I was able to get the stack of papers to be dealt with down to a magazine box that I use as my pending box.

So, that’s it.  If you have any questions please, do not hesitate to ask me in the comments or sent me an email directly.  I would LOVE to answer them for you.

enjoy life…

papers: create home thru konmari

For our first-ever Enjoy Life Project, we are working on Creating Home. The first step is to purge my home of the unnecessary, anything that isn’t useful, beautiful, or loved. I am using the KonMari method, developed by Marie Kondo, a Japanese decluttering guru and author of two book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up {LM} and Spark Joy {SJ}.  So far, I’ve introduced the project, discussed my criteria and completed my clothes (part I and part II) and books.

Graphic. konmari paper

 Things that are pending weigh on the mind for more than you might think.

The past few months on the blog, I have consistently mentioned guilt.  Initially when I set out to create home for me and my family, I did not think that guilt had anything to do with this situation.  Turns out it was a HUGE part of this situation. This became very evident as I was preparing to tidy my clothes and I realized that my closet and my papers both hold a lot of items that are unresolved.  With clothes, it was the items that I could no longer wear. Or those that I had bought them with the idea that I would one day fit into them. You get my drift. Paper was another area where the guilt was SCREAMING at me. So many papers and resources that I no longer needed. I wrote about the journey in real-time and here is the transcript.

Tuesday, March 5 at 8 AM – I’m waiting on the Buddy Man to wake up and I have moved all the papers out of the literal and proverbial closet and unto the floor.  Here’s my view!

What a mess! I’m sitting on a trunk and I am SO OVERWHELMED! Nervous apprehension is an understatement. I have a headache!!!!!!  I guess there’s nothing to do but jump in and get it done.  Referencing my end goal now.

At 11:15 AM – The Buddy isn’t feeling well. So, I have laid him down to rest.  Back at it.

At 12:30 PM – Something has clicked.  I am SO SICK of sorting paper.  So, if it doesn’t spark joy or if I don’t need it for legal purposes, it is gone! Including notepads from conferences that I attended – into the recycling they go.

At 3:17 PM – Taking care of Buddy Man. Spot tidying in-between checking him out.

Thursday, March 6 at 6 PM – I just finished going through the first past-through of paper, minus my journals and sentimental items.  I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders that I have been carrying around for at least 8 years.  It was cathartic, there were tears at several points.

But looking at that first pass-through of reducing my papers to things that spark joy or at least are useful and needed makes me know I am able to do the hard thing dealing with emotions that I have been staring at me for 12 years or more. In fact, I found a To-do List dated 2011 with the first item being: Clean out papers.  The irony!

I had notebooks from a company that I tried to start.  Mementos from my years of employment that reminded me of the good times and how poorly I appreciate them when I had them.  I also had papers that reminded me of the bad times, seemingly breaking open old wounds, causing me to relive the pain and the disappointment.

In addition, I had seven, SEVEN, notebooks of style and fitness tips that I had torn from magazines and the web.  It was basically Pinterest before there was Pinterest. Most of these ideas I had enthusiastically began but never fully implemented.

Many times, I wanted to quit and dive into a pint of ice cream but I remember what Marie said. Things will get difficult. Just keep sorting. I did and it worked.

Papers. AfterThursday, March 14 at 9:15 AM – As I made the second pass-through of my papers, specifically my style notebooks, I realized the HOURS that I spent planning to live my life rather an actually living it. Gut punch.

Here’s what I have left to keep.

 Wednesday, March 20 @ 1:30 AM – Marie says that by tidying, I’m honing my intuition and ability to act.  That’s why when I was sick and couldn’t sleep, I decided to continue KonMari(ng) my Komono, namely my journals that I had planned to save to Sentimenal.  I think I now know what I need to keep and what I should discard so I gave it a go.

I had six planners which I kept for referencing dates and activities that I have been involved in.

I have a total of 28 journals that have been written in – only 5 of which were completely filled.  They stay, obviously. Fourteen of the of the remaining 23 haven’t even been written in at all. Shame! I gave away 6 of those because they didn’t spark joy. Eleven were emptied of relevant pages that I need to keep for reference and then headed for recycling.  The rest were kept.

Surprisingly it didn’t take me that long.  I finished within the hour.

I can definitely say that my skills of what I want to have in my life currently and what I want to take with me have become clearer during this process.  I think I will breeze through Komono.

I will be back next week with my tips and tricks for tidying my papers.  See you then.

enjoy life…

books: create home thru konmari

For our first-ever Enjoy Life Project, we are working on Creating Home. The first step is to purge my home of the unnecessary, anything that isn’t useful, beautiful, or loved. I am using the KonMari method, developed by Marie Kondo, a Japanese decluttering guru and author of two book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up {LM} and Spark Joy {SJ}.  So far, I’ve introduced the project, discussed my criteria and completed my clothes (part I and part II).

2F27DFEE-684E-42EE-AA74-A6AD0A5EE00E

When tidying Marie’s second category, books, Marie invites us to ask this question: What kind of books will reflect the kind of person I want to be?

If you read this blog with any regularity you will know that I love books and I love reading.  Books have always sparked joy for me.  They have such a special place in my heart that I devoted the entire month of October last year to discussing their importance to me. I went into the books category fairly confident that the books that I had sparked joy. Even more confident than I was with my clothes.  I had purged a few books from my shelves last year because I had a suspicion then that seeing some of those books was making me feel guilty about past decisions. So, a lot of them went. I didn’t think that I would need to get rid of very many.

And I was right.  I own 193 books. I gave away six of them.  Marie includes magazines in the books category and I had 29 magazines.  I kept 13; three of which were of historical nature and featured Michelle Obama on the cover, eight were for reference as I work on various writing projects, and two were current issues that I am in the process of looking through.

It took me one and a half hours to go through all my books. Seeing them all on the floor was a little unnerving but it didn’t make me shudder. The sheer volume of them sparked joy. I was happy to have so many of them in my life.

Surprising Discoveries

Books that reflected my current life were on the bottom shelves. My books about writing, research, etc. were on my bottom shelves and all the books about my past and former careers: event planning, grant writing, administrative support, were front and center. That struck me as to the value that I was placing on my current situation and how I was hanging onto the dreams of yesteryear. I changed that immediately. And now my goals are at eye-level.  It’s been a very interesting shift.

Unread books can be taboo in both the reading community and Marie Kondo and I was afraid that I would have a lot of unread books.  Shockingly, I only had 15, three of which I let go. And here, as a bookman (a person who loves books and reading), I must disagree with the venerable Marie. “The moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it.”  I have a number of books on my shelves that I initially didn’t read or started reading and didn’t finish. But I came back to them later to discover that the time was right for me to read them. Women Food and God by Geneen Roth and The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge fall into this category for me.

Still To Do

85b7544a-7f1e-42bd-be72-14e94a7cd15dI am getting new bookshelves so that I can see all my books. Right now, most them are stored behind each other because while my bookshelf is very wide, it is not very tall. After I get the bookshelves and as I place the books on the shelf, that I will probably purge some more. My bookshelves will be constantly evolving: highlighting the girl I was and showcasing the woman I am now while pointing the way to who I hope to become.

By tidying, Marie says that I am honing my intuition and ability to take action. I love that. I’m going to need it because paper (and all that THAT entails) is next. OH BOY!

enjoy life…

Please ask any questions you may have in the comments. There are no stupid questions and I do enjoy sharing what I am learning. Please ask away.