Welcome back to my KonMari Method series, where I share how I’ve decluttered my apartment in preparation for my June 2018 move using The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Today, I’ll be sharing my paper purging process using the KonMari Method, and a shortcut I used to save time and sanity!
The only thing that I would ever use the word hoarder to describe myself for is paper.
In 2010, I purchased my first home. For reasons that even I don’t understand, I kept every single piece of mail that came into my home. Bills, statements, sales flyers (i.e. junk mail), you name it, I kept it.
We live in a digital age, with the option of getting electronic statements for pretty much everything, but I still opted to get paper statements. I know that everyone isn’t into e-bills or statements. This is fine, as long as you properly handle the mail when it enters your home: review it, shred it, or file it temporarily. But, I was holding onto mail indefinitely, sometimes unopened, even after I paid the bills online.
When I sold my home in June of 2016, I brought all of that paper with me to my much smaller apartment. Back then, I wasn’t thinking about purging or decluttering. I told myself that I would eventually sort through the papers and come up with some elaborate way of filing all of them. That never happened. Over the two years that I have lived in my apartment, the piles continued to grow.
This year, I decided to move to an even smaller apartment to save money. Downsizing from a two bedroom to a one bedroom means that I lose a room and closet to stash my paper hoard. I knew that this had to stop, and The KonMari Method is just what I needed to rid my life of excess paper once and for all.
“My basic principle for sorting papers is to throw them all away.”
-Marie Kondo from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
My KonMari Paper Declutter Process
When purging paper, you have to look at each document to make sure you’re not getting rid of something important. I knew that this would take a lot of time, but I was determined to get it done.
I set up TWO shredders, a chair, and a cup of coffee with the plan to go through one box at a time. This was not one of those sessions where I’d be putting everything on the floor and asking if it sparked joy. It was paper after all and there were two choices: keep or discard.
Most of the papers were trash: utility bills, insurance policies, and statements from years ago. Mixed in were important documents, like my car title and legal papers from the purchase and sale of my first home. I also found several years of tax documents that I decided to hold onto until I did my research on the most current IRS recommendations for how long to keep them.
I laid eyes on each piece of paper, creating piles for shred, file, and temporary. Keep in mind that I am moving in a month, so was not focused at this point on creating a filing system. Once I was done sorting, my plan was to tentatively file all of the papers I was keeping in a filing cabinet and create permanent files at a later time.
Still, my to-file pile was much smaller than my shred pile. I was getting overwhelmed. It took me an entire day to get through one box.
I didn’t want to spend my time doing this. But, what choice did I have. I had to sort through all of them. But, shred them all, too? It wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t have 7 boxes full of paper. Then, I had an idea that changed everything. Why didn’t I think of this before?
A Paper Purging Time-Saver
Years ago, I used to scroll through Groupon looking for local deals and would often see a voucher for half off of paper shredding at Staples. Every time I saw it, I said to myself, “you need that.” But, I didn’t buy it because I didn’t want to spend the money, which was like $5 for every 10 lbs of paper. I was so cheap back then!
I needed that deal now more than ever, so I got online and started hunting for that Staples Groupon. But, no such luck. It wasn’t available. I called them to find out the regular price of paper shredding: $0.99 per pound. I was sure that I had about 50 lbs of paper to shred.
After thinking about it for a few minutes (yes, it was literally just minutes), I decided that my time was more valuable. I did not want to spend the next few days shredding papers. And, knowing me, it would take weeks because I’d likely put it off until the last minute.
So, I sorted through the papers to decide which ones I’d be discarding. Then, I loaded up my car and drove to my local Staples. Turns out I had less paper (in pounds) than I thought! For $36.63 and about 20 minutes in the store, I was done with all of those papers that I had been collecting for the past 8 years.
It was worth every dollar.
I decided that my time was worth so much more than the $36.63 I spent to shred my papers. I am so happy to be done with my paper hoard and am committed to ending this habit once and for all.
How about you? Do you have a paper hoarding habit? If so, how are you working to overcome it?