Wednesday, July 20, 2016

KonMari, Paper - What do you keep, why do you keep it, and when to letgo

Do you keep nice, organized files? Do you have stacks of bills around the house? Do you keep pieces of paper just in case you need them one day? Love notes? 

Are you a grown-ass adult still holding on to their elementary school paperwork?

Oh, no? That's just me than...

I don't think that I will ever have to prove how smart I was as a kid, but I have my Talented and Gifted award from elementary school. I kept this with my Presidential Fitness Award, Safety Patrol Award, and Student Leadership awards. I had every single scholastic test result from primary and secondary school. I had almost every glowing report card till grade 11.

Among these, I also found school newspapers and creative writing magazines. When I was a kid, I was usually included in these publications because I was “advanced” as a creative writer. Yet these staple-bound copy-machine creations were absent of my childhood creativity. Why the hell did I keep them in the first place?

The more important question for me to ask is this:

What do these things represent to me now as a 37-year-old woman with a husband, career, master's degree, two puppies, two kitties, and generally happy life?  

If I am honest, clutter. Who wants to see this stuff but me? Does it matter now that I was "brilliant" when I was a kid? Going over the paperwork, I wasn’t even that special. Sure I had A’s and above average scholastic marks, but none of this matters.

I am still brilliant, funny, and creative. Damn skippy.

None of my personal paperwork matters when I step back and consider what storing and moving all this flammable material means.

All this paperwork reminds me of the potential of that little girl. I’m reminded that I was awkward and not popular. I was kind of a dork who liked dancing school and writing. To be defined by a past captured in standardized testing is not the life I strive for now.


Kondo encourages us to toss all the paper we can: the lecture notes, old bills, manuals, etc.

She says we should take care of bills when we get them and shred them when done. If you need to keep certain files, receipts, proof-of-purchase or warranty, mark with them with the date to dispose of them. 

That TV has a one year warranty? Mark the date of purchase and write on the date it expires. I highlight it. It can go after that date because it is useless.

I had a box-file of user manuals for everything in my house: the fridge, stove, grill, TV, lawn mower, dish washer, computer, laptop, motorcycles, car, washer and dryer (even two I got rid of), mixer, rice maker, juicer, vacuum, remotes, hard drives, and more. I have receipts from all manner of home repair and home ownership. Then there was this:

Filing this was one of those "we may need it" scenarios. “BUT we may need it SOMEDAY.” Hello Crazy, it says DO NOT FILE!

I had 8 copies of my mortgage paperwork, at least. Three say DO NOT FILE because they were freaking copies! Ugh.

Let me tell you the truth: I have never referred to the guide for my coffeepot. I have never used a warranty for anything because almost everything that has one, breaks right after the limited warranty is over. Meanwhile, I put them in a box and save forever. 

Not anymore. How do I apply Kondo-crazy to an American home?
1.     I have listed all the model numbers and information for each item in one list and have tossed the booklets. 
2.     I have created one file box with items to keep about the house that can be given to someone if they were to ever buy my home (fence, roof, stairs, siding, plumbing, survey, etc).
3.     All the appliances I am selling will now have nice little booklets to go along with them! (bad reason to save them forever, but here is where I am at)
I am storing home paperwork in the safe, where they will be safe from fire or flood. Not that we have either planned, but I have worried about this in the back of my mind for a long time. I plan, when the purge is complete, to take inventory and photos of everything else in the home and storing this on a flash drive in the safe too. The model numbers and receipts I have kept are handy for insurance purposes, so I am glad to do this added step for peace of mind. I can imagine this is will add relaxation to my mine because I will not have to scramble in case something ever happens.

That is my adulating in action.

This is all I have left of personal papers:

I used to save all my school notes from college, all my papers, all my handouts - like I was going to one day need them. Let me tell you a secret - I have never looked at old notes and said "Now I totally remember why I saved this". It is more like "My handwriting is terrible" or "My papers are not very good. If I graded this I would have given it a C."

Have you ever run across the blatherings of your High School social life in handwritten notes? Bleck… I'd share the hand-passed notes from friends that say nothing important, but I won't because I tossed them. They are irrelevant in my life now. I did read them all again for nostalgia.

I placed importance on saving little stupid things to immortalize moments in my life that were important to the teen me. The years have given me perspective and the distance has given me understanding - the actual thing is not the memory.  When I am gone from this world, the last thing I want people to read is the banal bullshit my friend Chris and I discussed on notes in high school.

I put all the sentimental papers and photos to the side as Kondo suggests. Don’t get distracted as I did while purging! Put all that memorabilia to the side especially if you have lots of papers to go through.

Of all the papers I found, and I know there is a still a box buried in the garage, I shred 3 bags and tossed 3 kitchen bags full. I probably will have more in the sentimental items, but Kondo says this last section is the most difficult to go through.

Have you the same paper-mountain I do? Do you save and file papers for just-in-case?

Tune in next time when I start tackling my Komodo or miscellaneous items...

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