Tips & Tricks from the KonMari method of organizing papers
1. Gather ALL papers in one place
Don’t skip this part of the process! It can be very overwhelming, but this is part of why the KonMari method actually works. This forces you to deal with all the paper at one time, once and for all.
Put any sentimental papers in a separate spot that you will tackle later! That’s the last category and hopefully we’ll all be experts by that time!
2. Divide paper into subcategories
Next, divide papers into subcategories. This allows you to think through each category at a time, which is a lot less intimidating.
3. Evaluate whether a paper must be kept – most don’t! – and for how long
Consider a little bit of research regarding documents like tax forms and how long you should keep those documents.
One example is medical insurance EOB documents. Some documents may be able to be found online and can be discarded. Make sure the electronic document is online and then consider shredding the paper copy.
Marie Kondo suggests to keep only:
- Currently in use/need attention
- Needed for a limited amount of time
- Needed indefinitely
4. Determine a storage solution
Take time to think through what storage system will work for you. That being said, don’t spend all your time figuring out the perfect solution. You can always tweak it later.
Marie recommends storing the remaining papers in a single plastic folder, without any further categorizing. This method may not work for you so feel free to consider other options that will work better for you.
Consider keeping recipes, owners manuals, etc in alternative places that make sense and can be accessed easily.
5. Store papers based on frequency of use
When placing the files back in your drawer, put the frequently used items towards the front and the infrequently used items towards the back. An example is listed below:
- Bills (keep 1 year)
- Insurance documents (keep 1 year as policies update)
- Tax returns (8 years worth)
- Financial documents (keep 1 month)
- Medical documents (forever)
- Important documents (birth certs, marriage cert, car titles) (forever)
- Personal papers (forever)
6. Develop a system for upkeep
Once you’ve discarded and stored the papers you are keeping, it’s crucial to develop habits for upkeep. You don’t want to relapse only because you didn’t have a plan for maintenance.
Try your best to deal with mail or papers right as they come in. Quickly recycle or shred unneeded documents. After your quick purge, place the rest of the papers in your “inbox” to be dealt with later. Consider designating one day per week that you sort through and file papers.
This process can be really eye opening. Being forced to make decisions about what papers need to be kept can help you think through the purpose behind every piece of paper in your home.
Most instruction manuals can be found online. Many medical insurance documents are kept online as well. Bank statements are useful when reconciling accounts, but aren’t needed after that (and they can be pulled from the internet if they are ever needed down the road). The list goes on!