Papers II – KonMari

It took me the better part of a week, but papers are done – KonMari style!

To review: 4 boxes (okay, 3 boxes and 1 expanding file box), two file drawers, 1 bill-paying basket, and I don’t know how many other stashes of paperwork here and there.

If you missed the last post, this was the before (not the full horror of the before, but still):

So Marie Kondo is not a fan of paper. She would rather you got rid of almost everything, although she acknowledges some paper needs to be kept.

She sees only three possible categories:

  • Papers you need to hold onto forever (e.g. birth certificates)
  • Papers that should be saved for the short term
  • Papers that need attention (e.g. bills to pay).

Furthermore, she commands suggests you keep them in the same room and that they not be subdivided into other containers or categories.

Now something Kondo’s detractors seem to keep forgetting is that she’s living in Japan. I have no idea how it works over there, but in the US, there are some things that you need to retain. I put on my librarian hat and I went to a bunch of reputable web sites, read some articles, and even consulted a few friends. I erred on the long range for my tax returns, student loan paperwork (multiple people advised keeping for the life of the loan), and IRA/retirement fund type stuff.

But there’s no way I can just lump it all together. It would be insane. I used folders (look how many I have now – I am keeping about 5) and it’s organized accordingly.

The long-term paperwork that I can’t apparently shred either right away or for a few years: student loan, IRA, retirement funds (separate plan), tax returns, my academic stuff (1 folder for Undergrad – transcripts and syllabi; 1 folder for Grad – same; 1 folder for work – tenure letters and such) is temporarily going back in the filing cabinet. It takes up about 1/3 of a drawer. It may not stay there.

As for the rest of it, it’s going in one clear plastic bin. I have a method for paying my bills that seems to be working.

I debated about putting it all in the filing cabinet. It wouldn’t even fill a whole drawer, but the problem with that as the room is now, is that it’s hard to see in that corner. When I get through this whole process, I may be moving some things around and it’s possible that I’ll lose the plastic bin then

What I did do was to clip together certain papers and affixed a post-it note indicating when it would be okay to shred.

As for the advice that everything stays in the same room, I am absolutely okay with that. I am all about the compartmentalization of space.

In the spirit of honesty, I did not go through the file folder of all greeting cards and letters (going to handle with the “sentimental” category). the file folder of old articles and photos of actors I was into as a teenager (I think I’ll tackle those with books), journals (sentimental), or the immense stack of legal pads containing my creative writing effort. I think the last I’ll tackle when I get to the komono section. I did not look at stationery or gift wrap either, but that seems to fall under the komono stuff too.

If by some miracle you’re reading this and considering doing the same thing, I would recommend sticking with her general order. This one was tough and time consuming.

A friend asked how do I feel? Another asked if I was okay with letting go that much paper.

I think I’m good. I’m a librarian. I like organizing. I don’t like clutter. I want that feeling of control. And honestly there was so much stuff in my past that I’d rather shred the hell out of than hang onto. So yeah, it feels good.

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