According to Marie Kondo, paper is the third category for clearing, after clothing and books. It is really my weak point as I find it really difficult to throw papers away! Marie Kondo listed the papers which people keep:
- old lecture notes (check)
- old cheque books (with just counterfoils remaining) (check)
- old payslips (check)
- old credit card statements and bills (I only keep three years worth, in my defence)
- greeting cards (check)
- warranties and instruction manuals (check)
To which I have to add, old course and education certificates, travel-related paper like old maps and tourist brochures, bank statements, insurance documents, car and home maintenance related documents etc etc.
You get the picture. My room is a veritable fire trap. My cabinets and drawers are full of paper, and stacks lie on the desk and side table. I opened up one big box which has been hidden in my cabinet for the longest time - only to find it full of papers which I had to sort through. Some were old bills and the like but a lot were letters, cards and little travel souvenirs like postcards and pictures. Sorting all the papers out took a very, very long and tedious time.
Marie's rule of thumb: discard everything, except (I) those documents which you must keep indefinitely for legal/contractual purposes, (ii) those documents which you need to take action on, and (iii) those you want to refer to and need to keep for a limited period of time.
I can't say I followed her instructions to a T. But, somehow her instructions succeeded in pushing me to discard my undergrad notes, my old payslips (except for my very first payslip - consider that komono not paper!), the cheque book stubs, expired warranties etc. I decided to keep only two years' worth of credit card statements, not three (slowly, slowly). Old car repair bills (for vehicles which were scrapped years ago) also made it into the bin.
Marie Kondo says in her book that her clients' record is fifteen 45-litre bags. I'm not sure what the volume of my bags is, but I've filled about ten large shopping bags. And, I've not quite finished since I still need to get a shredder to shred my bank statements in (I was a little reluctant to just tear them up).
What I found very useful was Marie's suggestions on how to file papers. Just keep them in three files reflecting her categories above. She observed that most people have very elaborate filing systems, so much so that it makes it difficult for them to file papers away. The far simpler filing system she proposed makes it easier for people to keep their papers. Thinking about it a bit, I totally agree!!! I have since simplified my "incoming" documents - instead of sorting them into my handphone bill, utilities bill, credit card etc, I will just put them all in the same big folder marked "2016" which I can then go through and decide what to shred or keep at the end of the year. (I am afraid that I'm not really capable of throwing away my old credit card bill once it is paid). So hopefully, this easy filing system will help me keep my papers sorted.
I was so tired of clearing just paper, that along the way, I did concurrently work on other categories. I finished clearing out my clothes. Five bags worth, ready to cart away. Not the empty closets which some Konverts boast of but pretty good, for me. I also sorted a little komono along the way, clearing out stationary and miscellaneous junk drawers.
So that's paper (mostly) over. Now to the rest of the komono.