The KonMari Method: Papers

The next phase in my using the KonMari method of decluttering is papers! You can read all about the introduction to this way of cleaning here.

Papers refer to…well, pretty much everything that is on paper (aside from books and magazines, which were done last time.) Many people keep way too many papers because they believe that they are too important to throw away. But, especially now, most of that information can easily be found online. All other information is just a phone call away.

The rest of the paper that is in a typical house is usually things like junk mail, bills waiting to be paid, coupons, flyers, invitations, etc. This is all stuff that we keep because we plan on doing something with them in the immediate future. However, life happens, and this stuff usually piles up. Although most of the papers that you will keep don’t necessarily spark joy, they fall under necessary items to keep.

A few months ago, my husband bought a new safe for our home. We wanted to keep all of our important papers in there, so we spent a few days neatly organizing and filing. At the time, we did get rid of a ton of paper, mostly things like used up checkbooks, bank statements/credit card bills, and and outdated insurance information. But we were still left with quite a bit that we felt may be too important to get rid of, like medical records.

When it was time to sort papers, I really did not think it would be a big undertaking since we had so recently gone through the important stuff. I was really surprised at how many papers we had around the house.

I started with the stuff in safe, again. I kept things that had to do with identity (birth certificates and social security cards), major purchases (house deeds and car information), and bank information (like account numbers), but everything else was tossed. Would I really need an outline of a checkup I went to 3 years ago? No. Everything we needed fit nicely into a file and was locked away.

Our mail dumping ground.

The rest of the papers in the house were mail, junk mail or guides/warranties. We tried to go paperless on as many things as possible, so I was surprised at how many pieces of mail we get everyday. I divided the mail into categories as Kondo suggests: bills and invitations that need immediate attention, paperwork that needs to be saved temporarily (such as an agreement with the solar company that just installed our panels), and stuff that could be gotten rid of.

User manuals and warranties

The guides and warranties were stored in a plastic box in a cabinet. To be honest, we have only used the stuff in there a handful of times (like when I needed help figuring out how to wash diapers in our washer) and I’m sure that much more, if not all, could be gotten rid of. But my husband asked that I keep all the warranties and guides for our appliances as well as for anything that was his. So, I got rid of everything that was mine (like phone manuals and computer guidebooks) as well as things that we didn’t even own! The previous owners of the house left a bag of user manuals for things in the house like the stove and dishwasher so we just threw it all in with all of our other stuff. I was surprised to find manuals for appliances like waffle makers that we didn’t own or refrigerators that were long gone.

After everything was sorted and disposed of properly, it was awesome to see so much freed up space. Where there were piles of mail or menus or flyers, were now partially empty shelves and drawers.

Here’s how to keep this part green and eco-friendly:

-Recycle, recycle, recycle. It’s paper, so it can all go in the recycling bin. Just be sure to shred anything with personal information before doing so.

-Take a good look at the mail you are getting and check online or by phone to see how you can go paperless. Opt out of certain letters and flyers, when do you really ever use them? Sign up for paperless statements for banks and credit cards, you are more likely to pay on time this way anyway.

After this part of the process, I feel much much more relaxed about what I truly need. I know where everything super important is and even feel less stressed about financial issues since everything is so organized, if that makes sense. Although, I am starting to get anxious about the level of progress I am making. The house is still pretty cluttered and although I know I will get to everything, it feels a bit like an endless process at the moment. I am attributing this to the fact that the stuff I have gone through thus far were all hidden away for the most part so it’s hard to notice the results just yet. I’m anxious to see the results after the next BIG category.

Up next: Komono/Miscellany Part 1

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