Our homes (and offices) have failed in the promise of the “electronic age” to let us all go paperless. Those many stacks of papers and files piled along every horizontal surface in some offices are a testament to the paper paralysis. And if that describes your home, take heart: that paralysis can be cured if you’re ready for some simple work that will pay dividends well into the future. One of the KonMari MethodTM keys to success is that you rid yourself of all paper (with a few exceptions). It is totally doable and freeing!
There are many emotional reasons we hold on to paper: we’re afraid we’ll forget, we know “responsible people” hold onto paper, that little voice in our heads warns “you may need that someday,” or the volume is just so overwhelming that we don’t even know where to start. At the same time, we fear that we may be missing a graduation party a or an overdue bill we can’t seem to find. Put that stress behind you and tackle your paper now with four steps: 1) Big Purge, 2) Sort, 3) Action, and 4) Maintenance.
Big Purge: Set aside a few hours after work or on a weekend to start tackling this problem. Begin with the “Big Purge.” Go through every paper in your house (yes, every one) and discard the ones that are not needed and sort the ones that are. (Keep in mind information supporting tax returns should be kept for 7 years after the filing date.) It’s very helpful to first gather five boxes for your sort and label them: Recycle, Shred, Pending (action items for this week), Save, and Scan. Establish some guidelines like all manuals will be thrown away (you can find them on the internet), only one piece of your children’s artwork, homework, or report card will be saved for each grade; honors and awards will keep up to ten, for example. You have to decide these things in advance if you’re going to have success.
Sort: Then, start your Sort with the most current piles. When determining whether a paper is needed, ask yourself a) Is it still useful? b) Did I ask for this document and if so, why? c) Can I find this information elsewhere – in my electronic files, on the internet, etc.?, and d) What’s the worst thing that could happen if I get rid of this paper? Your aim should be to discard as much paper as possible. Sort quickly and thoroughly. Don’t try to deal with each item as you go along; you’ll get sidetracked. If something needs to be scanned first, put it in the Scan box – but don’t use that to avoid making hard decisions. Don’t let your emotions get in the way, or you’ll be wasting a lot of time (or a lot of someone else’s time) scanning things you really don’t need.
Once you’ve made it through the piles around your home office, schedule time to go through the files in the kitchen, the mudroom, the living room – anywhere papers accumulate in your household. Touch every single piece of paper. Get rid of as much as possible. All the while, keep using your bankers’ boxes. Keep a close eye on the one labeled “Pending,” and assign one day each week to go through that box and act on each item that needs to be done. When completed, get rid of the paper if you can, or assign it to one of the other boxes.
Action. Once you’ve purged and sorted and you are minding your Pending box every week, you can then take Action on each of the items in the labeled boxes. Set a schedule for the time to get this done. Enlist the help of an assistant if you can – completing this step is important. If you take too long for this step, you will slip back into your old habits.
After the Big Purge, the Sort, and Action, then it’s a matter of Maintenance. You’ll find you now have a healthy amount of skepticism about paper and whether to print something. It’s okay to do so, just be sure to dispense with it appropriately as soon as its usefulness has passed. With your paper paralysis now cured, you’ll find a sense of relief having regained control of your physical space, and so many distractions will be eliminated. And you’ll also find that you have a better grasp on what’s in all your essential paper files. The steps are simple, the payoff is huge. Just make the commitment and do it!
South Dakota attorney and Certified KonMari Consultant
email@example.com or 605-929-1493
The Reluctant Enthusiast LLC, doing business as Designed 2 Stick, is owned and operated by Mrg Simon, Glen Rose, TX. All images and content are copyrighted, and the property of Mrg Simon and The Reluctant Enthusiast LLC, unless otherwise stated. All header/banner photos are courtesy of Unsplash. The Reluctant Enthusiast claims no right in the registered marks of third parties, including KMI Media and Marie Kondo.. Mrg Simon and The Reluctant Enthusiast LLC are not acting or speaking on behalf of Marie Kondo, KonMari Media Inc., nor are they authorized to do so.
*Designed 2 Stick and Mrg Simon do not offer legal services. Mrs. Simon does not accept legal clients or provide legal advice.