Starting with clothing, which ends up being relatively easy in my opinion, you think that the next categories will go just as smoothly – ha! Books and paper come next. I think it is safe to say that we are all drowning under the weight of the amount of paper we have in our homes. Computers were supposed to take care of paper; everything is stored electronically so there should be no need for the paper copy. That might be true if you are a millennial, a digital native. But for the rest of us, that little voice that says you should have a hard copy “just in case” (along with an inherent distrust of computers), means there probably hasn’t been a serious amount of paper reduction in the home.
I consider myself a digital immigrant. I bank and shop online and am confident enough in my financial institutions that I no longer have statements mailed to my home. But each day when I go to my mailbox, I am reminded of that Seinfeld episode – you know the one – when Kramer tried to stop the mail, specifically junk and catalogs, from being delivered. I may be doing everything else online, but the places we shop and bank still get us with offers and catalogs that just keep coming. (They must be in cahoots with the postal service.) And straight to the recycle bin they go.
But beyond the daily paper items that come in and go out pretty quickly, Kondo addresses those items that we all hang onto because we think we must. Her philosophy is discard everything; anything of importance can be found again electronically. And while that may be true, I think we all realize (and she does too) there are some things that you just can’t throw away (marriage licenses, passports, etc.) So I went through the file cabinet, ditched what I knew for sure was not needed and kept only those things that I knew I had to. And while I still have the file cabinet with my categorized hanging file folders (gold/green, concrete-sequential, remember?), I was able to reduce down from two drawers to one. That was good enough for me.
There may not be a lot (or any) joy in the necessary paper of our lives, but books…well, that is a different story. My husband, my daughter, and I are all voracious readers; we have a lot of books in our home. To do this the KonMari way, you would unload all of your books onto the floor much like the clothes, and go through them one by one. Well, I am here to tell you that was not going to happen. First of all, not all of the books are mine, and I have been the only one KonMari-ing my house at this point. Secondly, I could see them all much better on the shelves. It’s not like we had books spilling out all over our house, so I was content to keep them as they were. But later on, KonMari once again made sense in hind-sight.
To put out certain Christmas decorations, we always clear off about six bookshelves in our living room. The books get boxed away for a month and put back out when Christmas is over. As I was taking them off the shelf this year, however, I came across some that really didn’t speak to me. So those went into a separate box to be sold/donated. Had it not been necessary to remove them from the shelves in the first place, they would have remained indefinitely. So if you get to the section on books and think to yourself, “I can just sort by sight,” you are wrong. While you might not want to empty every shelf at once, I think emptying one or two at a time and going through the books by hand will make a huge impact on what you choose to keep. Those books that have real meaning for you will be the ones that remain.