attacking the paper piles: advice needed!

March 25, 2015
So.  As you know, I read her (mildly controversial) book and remain enamored with the Kon-Mari method.  I still get a little ping of happiness every time I open up one of my clothing drawers and can see all of the items, stacked neatly on their edges.  Josh is fully on board, and we are determined to go through all of our possessions one category at a time, until we’re done.

(Marie Kondo suggests that once we’re done, we’ll be done forever.  We’ll see!)

Categories completed:
1) Clothing (Josh’s, mine)
2) Books/media (Josh’s, mine)
3) Shoes (mine)
4) Accessories (mine)
5) Clothing for specific events (running gear, etc)

We have also gotten rid of a lot of intant/baby stuff, but I don’t know that we’ve purged completely enough to say we’re done there.  Example – I think we still have old bottles lying around and we need to sort through outgrown clothes for C yet again.

Admittedly, we have hit a bit of a lull.  Apparently it’s hard to dedicate yourself to weeding through one’s possessions when there are things like jobs and kids (and super important blog posts!) to worry about.  But Josh and I both want to see the overhaul through.  Even if it takes forever.

Categories up next:
1) Bags (will be easy)
2) Toiletries/cosmetics (will also be fairly easy, I think)
3) Papers (will NOT be easy)

tip o’ the iceberg

I’m excited to tackle the first two, but agggh — PAPER is going to be tough, and I don’t feel like Ms. Kondo provided enough guidance.  We have a not-so-perfectly organized system of files in a big cabinet, but there is a ton of stuff that we likely don’t need (old bank statements/receipts/etc).  I don’t see us going paperless, but I want to go minimal and only keep what we truly need to have on hand.  What goes in this category?  I’m a bit at a loss!  

How do others decide what to keep and what is safe to discard?  Are others ditching paper and just scanning everything into Evernote (or something similar)?  Tax records need to be kept for how long?

Advice welcome!

In other news, this is happening:

(He was fully strapped in.  OMG!)


  • Reply andreamocko March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I agree with the fact that Kondo lacked detail in the paper section. If anything her advice was throw it out, and that there’s no point in organizing what’s left over. It all just seemed contradictory to the rest of the book. I went paperless a year ago, so thankfully it wasn’t a problem area for me.

    Going paperless is a big undertaking (especially if you were like me with separate binders for everything), but once you do it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. It makes finding things a breeze. The first step is reducing the paper coming in. Any important papers left over like bills, notices, health documents, or receipts for big ticket items get scanned in with a document scanner. I got a great deal on a Canon, but I’ve heard great things about the Fujitsu ScanSnap line too. Users manuals can usually be found online so I tossed those too and downloaded PDF copies. A year later, the only papers I have left are things like my mortgage documents, car title, and a few things that were either difficult to scan or manuals I couldn’t find online.

  • Reply Annie March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    Thanks for the motivation to continue tackling paper clutter! Great comments so far, and I am curious to see what other strategies your readers will suggest.

    I generally try to toss any papers that would be fairly easy to look up/request if I ever needed them. Things like bank statements, paid bills, old W-2’s, insurance information, etc. could be easily requested if you ever needed them, so why bother to keep them? That’s how I look at it. I try to only save things that would be difficult or costly to look up/request, like birth certificates and car titles. If you are saving lots of your kids’ paper art projects, consider taking a photo of them and then tossing them, so you still have the memory but not the clutter!

  • Reply RhodeyGirlTests March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    We did paper already. Here’s what we kept:

    – all HUD statements from investment properties we no longer own.
    – closing paperwork from investment properties we still own.
    – only current year insurance docs from investment properties we own
    – memories: only the best stuff the kids made and our absolute favorite things from growing up
    – tax returns, all of them (the IRS has the right to ask for the last 7 years I believe)
    – only current year investment fund paperwork

    what we tossed:
    – all other investment property documents, including bills and such, although we do have a record of account numbers and names in google drive
    – anything from previous years aside from tax returns and HUD statements
    – memories that no longer matter, like my high school report cards
    – all manuals since they are mostly available online

    We went from a 4 drawer filing cabinet to a 1 drawer one that is only 3/4 full. It felt great tossing that ugly cabinet and sticking the new drawer cabinet in a closet.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

      awesome to hear how much you were able to condense!

      the ‘kid stuff’ is going to get harder to throw out as our kids get older, i think, but i’m committed to being reasonable about what we save. i do think i’ll try to take photos of artwork and make albums instead of keeping big bulky projects around 🙂

  • Reply oldmdgirl March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    Go paperless for all bills (if possible) and bank statements. Most banks enable you to retrieve old credit card and bank statements on their website at any time, so really there is no need to keep any of this.

    Scan important documents and keep a backup or two of this on external hard drives. I’d like to look into secure cloud alternatives for this, but haven’t had time to find a secure one, and google owns everything they touch, so obviously their free services are not going to cut it. We have one big plastic box for important documents (car titles, house documentation) and one box for my medicine related stuff.

  • Reply Ana March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I tackled this 5 years ago when we first moved into our house and shredded 2 large garbage bags worth of stuff—but its accumulated again. Most things are paperless, but I tend to hold onto all medical bills/EOB that come from the insurance company, anything from the vet, manuals (its not worth it for me to spend 2 hours hunting for and downloading PDFs so I just keep the manuals), and anything related to home repairs. I probably can go through again and chuck most things >3 years old. Kids stuff probably needs a go-through as well—I don’t keep much, out of each stack of stuff they bring home (every few weeks) I try to keep only 1-2 things but I can probably go through by year and hone down to 10-15 things/child/year to get a sense of where they are at. Once I took pictures of everything B bought home, but I generally stick most things straight in the recycle bin these days.

  • Reply ARC March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I pared my 2 drawer file cabinet down to a file box from Target. Almost everything I was keeping "for reference" got recycled and any pertinent account #s etc went into OneNote. I save the last year’s worth of medical bill statements just in case something comes up w/ insurance, then toss. We do save all our old tax returns (hubby is a bit of a paper hoarder) but NOT all the supporting docs like 1099s, W-2s etc. We have a smallish fireproof box in our safe with car titles, a copy of our will, etc.

    Re: kid stuff, for 3D projects I love but can’t keep, we photograph extensively, and I’m going to start taking video of my older daughter (age 5) talking about it. I keep a handful of drawings each year for our scrapbook (maybe 8 per kid), but every week we sit down and review what our older one has brought home and she helps me decide what to keep for the scrapbook and what to hang on the fridge/her room, etc. So we’re actively recycling as we go, and she’s fine with it. I also like to send a few things to her grandparents and aunt about twice a year and they LOVE it – she picks out what to send them.

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