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”.


  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…

clothes part I: create home thru konmari

Graphic. konmari clothesIn the first Enjoy Life Project on the blog, we are working on Creating Home, one of my intentions for 2019. The first step for me is to purge my home of the unnecessary, anything that isn’t useful beautiful or loved. I am choosing to use 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} that I read over three years ago.  Check out my intro and the first steps and my discussion of her one criteria of what to keep. Then return here to read about my experience with Category 1: Clothes


My Closet – Before

Here is a shot of the before of my closet.  I know, I know. To some, there is nothing wrong with this. It looks perfectly fine, maybe straighten the shoes a bit. But what I love about the KonMari method of tidying is Marie’s philosophy that “order is dependent on the extremely personal values” {LM6} of an individual.  And this doesn’t spark joy for me.

It wasn’t until I committed to the process that I was able to assess why this didn’t spark joy for me.  And it wasn’t what you see in the pic.  It was lurking in the two additional feet of width on each side of my close and underneath my bed. It was the guilt buried in those depths.


Closet Goals

I started at 10:30 PM on a Saturday night.  My original plan was to get up early on Sunday morning, around 5 AM, but I lay in bed for an hour, so giddy with excitement that I couldn’t go to sleep. I thought I might as well get up and go for it.  I had prepared a cheat sheet of Marie’s tips and things I wanted to remember. I had an inspiration picture (Closet Goals from Shira Gill’s organizational work) printed and Marie’s two books sitting on my dresser for easy reference. I thought it would take me couple of hours. After all, I have cleaned out my closet many, many times.  What more could I possibly have to get rid of?

IMG_7100Well, I was shocked by the sheer volume of clothes on my bed. I really didn’t think I had so much and 7 ½ hours later, which included the “joy check” and finding temporary storage for each item (temporary because according to Marie, storage isn’t finalized until the end of the entire home tidying marathon) I was done.

Everything that didn’t “spark joy” or was necessary because I didn’t have a suitable replacement that “sparked joy” went. This included pieces that I absolutely LOVED but had worn to death: pair of shorts that the drawstring had come out of but I still wore, pulling them up every few minutes (or not and mooning close friends and family). I had also resoled the heels of a pair of the most comfortable Nine West pumps and Kenneth Cole wedge sandals at least three times each and both were over 10 years old. There was no more that could be done for them.  And my Sperry sneakers insoles had come apart and out entirely.  I bade them all a very fond farewell.

Additionally,  three pairs of shoes are headed for consignment.  I haven’t worn them in years and I don’t love them.  They went. I also threw out a few workout shirts that I have had since I started my weight loss rollercoaster.  Annexing that guilt felt so good.

Marie says that once an item is bought, it should be immediately unpacked, detagged, and welcomed into the closet.  Would you believe that I had so many things with the tags still hanging on them? Why do I do this? Maybe to experience another jolt of happiness when I go to wear the item for the first time and have to remove the tag? Who knows.  Well, no more of that. Some of the tagged items were in sizes that I have not seen for who knows how many years. These were the items that were haunting me; guilting me every time I opened my closet.  Definitely not a source of joy and happiness.

IMG_7102By the end of the night I had one trash bag of garbage (socks and underwear with holes, worn-out shoes that I loved, etc.). I had one bag of clothes to donate and one to try and sell. Many of these items still had tags on them as well as those three pairs of shoes, I haven’t worn in YEARS!  I’m ashamed.


My Closet – After

Here’s a shot of my closet after.  As I stated before, some of these storage solutions are temporary. We will see how they develop.

I will be back with Part II soon where I will share some surprising discoveries and a bit more of my process and tips for tidying my clothes. Please ask me any questions or concerns that you might have and I will do my best to answer them in the next post.

Have you guys started yet?

Until next time.

enjoy life…

UPDATE: Part II is live on the blog but I can still respond to questions and comments, so ask away.

enjoy life project: intro: create home thru konmari

For the past three years, I have set intentions (I dislike using the word goals).  This year, so far, I have three of them and one of them is to “create home”, terminology “borrowed” from Joanna Gaines.

In her new book, Homebody, Joanna describes her home as the eye of the storm.  “There’s a certain calm I experience there no matter what is swirling around outside. Home is where I feel safe.” Right now, home is where I tend to feel the most guilt.  All the undone tasks that call to me, along with everything that has to be done at home on a given day.  I want to change that. I want to love the home I am in. And I want everyone who lives and visits there to feel loved and safe. This is what I mean when I say “create home”.

First thing that I need to do is clear the clutter and I have always wanted to try the KonMari method since reading her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up twice, as well as her second book, Spark Joy, over three years ago.  This year Netflix released a new series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo where Marie tries to help people declutter their homes-and their lives.  I devoured the series within two days and was inspired to completely “tidy” my home this year.

I am pleased to annouce the first ever EnjoyLife Project here on the blog: Create Home thru KonMari. And I invite you to come on this journey with me.

Step 1: Commit to the Process

Marie identifies the first step you must take is to commit to the process. Marie warns that the process will be hard.  And it is.  This is not the first time I have begun this process.  Last time I began in January 2016. You can read about it here. It didn’t work. I didn’t follow through.  Marie says that  “tidying up means confronting yourself” and, boy, was she right.  And that was what held me back in 2016.

It’s worth saying again. Marie insists that this will be hard. And for a long time, I avoided anything that seemed too difficult.  Especially when it came to my feelings.  I stuffed them down, buried them deep and piled ice cream on top of them. This seemed easier than dealing with my actual emotions: my sense of failure, guilt, fear, etc. Tackling those things would hurt too much. My default instinct is to try to fix the thing, to move forward, to keep pushing, to try the newest method, to read the newest book, to implement the next plan.  And, for a long time I worshipped at the false god of efficiency and organization.  Oh, and perfection, or at least, the appearance of perfection because underneath everything was a mess.

Kind of like my home.  Most people visiting my house would insist that it was one of the neatest homes they have ever been in.  And that may be the truth of their experience.  But I know where the clutter is buried and what lurks in the closet.

Step 2: Identify Your Ideal Lifestyle

Step two is to identify your ideal lifestyle.  Thanks to leaving a full-time position at the end of 2017 and following the advice of Shauna Niequist in her excellent book, Present Over Perfect, to listen to my spirit, the voice of God, I have been able to discover some of what I am meant to do in this world.  I love this quote, “Be still and know.”  Before the knowing, before the stillness, there is the being.  In 2018, I began to learn to “be” and in the process rediscovered what my ideal lifestyle looks like. And perfection is NOT part of that equations anymore.  Honestly, my ideal lifestyle does not look that different from what it was before I took that detour of a full-time position in late 2016.  As I said then and reiterated at the start of this post, I don’t’ want to spend time dealing with stuff at home. I want my home to be a source of tranquility and a source of nourishment for my family, where everything  and everyone has a place and everything is in its place.  My knowing where that place is would be awesome.

Step 3: Finish Discarding First

This is going to be the difficult part for me.  I want to finish. To see the awesome “after” pictures but that’s not how Marie works.  Things will get a lot worse before they get better.  That’s one of the things that scared me the last time.

The Other Steps

Step 4: Tidy by Category, not location. Marie’s first category is clothes.  I will be tackling that this month and will share my progress next month.

Step 5: Follow the Right Order.

Step 6: Ask yourself, if it sparks joy.  Remember that you are not choosing what to discard but what to keep.

If any of you want to participate with me in this process, I would be thrilled. We could encourage and share our joys and challenges together. Let me know if you’re interested in the comments below and tag me on Instagram using the hashtag: enjoylifeproject

I’ll be back next month with an update on my progress.

enjoy life…

Take a look at the next posts in the series:

Spark Joy

Clothes Part I

Clothes Part II