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This is the second installment a short series on my experience with the “KonMari Method” from the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Here’s a link to part one in which I tackle my closet!
After clothing, Marie “KonMari” Kondo suggests tidying your books and papers next. Here’s how it went:
I love to read. I’ve read many thousands of books in my life. KonMari challenged me to ask myself why I was holding onto books that I have already read and have no plan to read again. She emphasizes that reading books is an experience to be savored, but after it is over, there is little reason to hold onto books unless you need them for reference or really intend to re-read them soon.
I have limited myself to one bookcase full of books in recent years, though I would love some space on that bookshelf for displaying other items that truly bring me joy, or storing items that I use often.
KonMari insists that you handle each book individually in order to decide which books to keep, so I followed her directions. I kept my favorites (she calls them “hall of fame” books), books I will actually re-read, books from my childhood that I want to pass on to my daughter when she is old enough, and books I will use for reference (cookbooks, teaching books, etc.).
Everything else went, including a collection of modern fiction that I’ve read and enjoyed thoroughly, but that I know I will never read again. For some reason these books were the hardest to part with! I was able to pass some of them on to a friend who loves to read and the rest of my books went to Goodwill.
In the end I got rid of more than half of my book collection! Once they were out the door I felt a sense of relief, and I am confident that I will NEVER miss the books I opted not to keep.
Next I ventured up into the attic and dragged down five large boxes of my “teacher stuff”, which included loads of books. I was a classroom teacher for 8 years before I started became a work at home mom, so I had LOTS of stuff to go through.
I filled another shelf on my bookshelf with binders of my best teacher materials and books (since I may return to classroom teaching one day). I added some things to my “mementos” box – which will be the absolute last thing I attempt to KonMari – and then sent three more boxes of goodies off to Goodwill.
When I look at my bookshelf it does truly bring me joy knowing that it holds only my “hall of fame” materials. And I know I will find the perfect use for my now empty shelf as I continue this process!
The next category to tackle is papers. When I opened the first drawer in my filing cabinet, this is what I saw. Yikes! Yes, these are all receipts that I’ve just thrown into this drawer, only with a camera lens and some packing tape (makes total sense, I know).
The other drawers in the filing cabinet weren’t any better. So I had lots of work to do in this department!
I was surprised to learn from the IRS website that, in most circumstances, you are only required to keep taxes from three years prior. Just to be safe, I kept tax records from the past six years, which means I could get rid of a bunch of files. I created a special folder and file for my envelopes full of receipts from my monthly budgeting, so they are under control now, too.
I also added to the burn pile tons of paper from grad school and even undergraduate. I kept a few noteworthy papers, but I didn’t see a need to keep syllabi and notes from courses I took so long ago! KonMari says that this kind of paperwork is what lots of her clients have a hard time letting go of.
In the end I freed up two drawers in this ugly filing cabinet, which I dream of kicking to the curb! I am already thinking of an alternative to this cabinet, which has served its purpose and definitely DOES NOT spark joy in me.
In summary, this phase was a lot more work that I anticipated. It made my closet seem like a piece of cake.
Next I’m tackling my bathroom, kitchen, and finally this frightening mess in our storage room:
Until then, you may be interested in this article from WideBread on 8 ways clutter keeps you poor.
What do you think of the KonMari method so far? Would you ever attempt this in your space? Please leave a comment below and let us all know what you think!