I have finally completed the third stage of my KonMari declutter. This time it was all about papers. Read on to find out how I tackled them, and how I used it as an opportunity to do a digital declutter, too.
WHAT DID I DO?
I’ll start off by saying I am fairly organised when it comes to paperwork around my house. I’m an organisation freak so I have my bills and papers filed away carefully in lever-arch folders. But if you take away any lesson from Marie Kondo, take away this one: organisation hacks, like stackable containers, folders, and pretty boxes, just masks your stuff and encourages you to hoard. Trust me.
I did what is required of all the KonMari stages – I collected all papers from my house and dumped it on the floor. I took everything out of the folders, and collected stacks of paper from the kitchen table, and receipts that seemed to be littered throughout most rooms in my house. And I culled, shredded and recycled my way through a lot of paper, getting rid of brochures I never look at, duplicates of paperwork, and old receipts that didn’t need to be held on to. So. Much. Paper.
I also took this opportunity to declutter my “digital papers”. I went through my laptop and deleted old uni documents, resumes and job applications. And while I was at it, I cleaned out my inbox and culled pins from my Pinterest boards. It took probably a week, if not longer, to get through it all. But damn, it felt good! Now my inbox is clean, my computer isn’t weighed down by zillions of documents I don’t need, and papers that I’ve kept are filed away neatly. What’s left is stuff I like and that is genuinely useful. Which when you think about it, it’s so obvious. Why keep a bunch of paperwork? The just-in-case mentality is so strong in most of us! But really, when did you last look at the receipt you have for the DVD you bought a year ago?
WHAT DIDN’T I DO?
Marie Kondo suggests only keeping papers that need actioning, or that legally need to be retained (like keeping your tax return stuff). I didn’t quite go that far. For budgeting purposes, I like to have at least a year’s worth of bills in a folder, as I use these to help see what my average spend is over a year and use this information for the following year. I also kept important receipts and some of my user manuals for big appliances. But, as you’ll see below, I have switched mostly to online bills so once I have a year’s worth of these, the paper ones will also be recycled.
She also recommends having a file for pending items – like bills to be paid, or say a brochure you received and want to do more research on. I actually really like this idea, but I haven’t got there yet. At the moment my pending items are stacked on my kitchen bench where I see them. But it’s not ideal. And also messy. *adds to to-do list*
WHAT DID I LEARN ABOUT MYSELF?
I thought I was fairly good and keeping on top of papers, but what I realised is, I’m just good at filing and forgetting. So this was a good opportunity to look at things that had been filed for a long time, that hadn’t been used, and throw them away. It also made me realise that all the paper was such a waste, environmentally, so I went through the process of switching all my bills to email. So that should reduce the amount of paper I receive altogether. Although, I also realised that email bills are really easy to forget to pay because they aren’t hanging on your fridge! So I need to make some new habits, stat.
HAS IT CHANGED ANYTHING?
Aside from email bills, I also now refuse receipts where I can, and reuse any paper I do receive by cutting it into smaller pieces to write shopping lists on, before it gets recycled. I keep a track of my bills in my bullet journal so I can easily see at a glance how much my utilities are costing over the year, rather than hunting through emails. I’m also tracking my expenses in my bullet journal so that I don’t need to rely on hoarding receipts. It’s been really cleansing getting rid of all the paperwork. It actually freed up a whole drawer in my living area. It’s made me think about the amount of unnecessary paper in my life so I am trying to limit it as much as possible.
All of this has definitely shifted my mentality when I think about waste. This method of tidying really makes you consider how much stuff you consume, how much of what you consume you actually get joy from (and use from), and how much stuff you end up throwing away. My mindset is now focussed on only buying what I actually need, and making sure what I buy is made to last. The KonMari method should be a once-off tidy up. It’s really has been a game-changer for me and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough!
Komono – aka the Japanese word for miscellaneous stuff around your house. It’s a big one category! Think CDs, kitchenwares and all the stuff lurking in your bathroom cupboard. Stay tuned!