I’ve been on a quest for years now to manage my paper clutter, and while it’s getting better bit by bit, I still feel most of the time like I’m forgetting something or losing something in the copious notes, lists, and receipts that pile up like snow drifts on my dining room side table.
I recently read this revolutionary little book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo, in which the author advocates throwing out almost all of your papers. What?! I’ll give you more detail on this in my next blog post because papers come later in her multi-step process.
According to Kondo, who has made tidying her life’s work (this was the kid who was organizing drawers as a hobby), we should start with our clothing. I figured if she can help me with papers, I am wiling to go along with her system, even though I don’t consider my clothes a big organizational problem.
Here is a picture of my shirt drawer before:
Everything was always folded and stacked. Sometimes the piles collapsed when I was digging through to find something, but overall, my clothes were unwrinkled and I figured manageable. Oh, was I wrong! When I finished her whole process, I had given away four garbage bags worth of clothing and folded everything I kept (except for skirts, dresses, and jackets) into little “packets.”
Here is my shirt drawer after:
Now I can see everything in one glance without having to move or disturb anything I’m not pulling out to wear. This kind of folding doesn’t take any longer than regular folding. It takes a wee bit longer to get things in the drawer neatly, but her point is you need the speed more when you’re taking something out than when you’re putting it away.
I realized my papers look like the “before” drawer. Yes, they’re all in one place, but no, it is not easy to find what I need…compared to “after” drawer, it looks disheveled and depressing. It is much more enjoyable to choose an outfit from my drawers now.
I have also completed step two, which is books, another area of possessions that I don’t feel overly attached to. I’ve been thinking that I have such a hard time throwing out papers because writing is one of the key facets of me. If I throw out the history papers I wrote in college, or the travel brochures I designed at a job in my twenties, it’s like discarding a piece of my identity.
Stay tuned for my next blog… I’m planning a paper-purging party!
In the meantime, please let me know which of your possessions are hard for you to manage, and see my link for Marie Kondo’s book, which I highly recommend.
I hope your new year is off to a wonderful beginning!
If you enjoy reading my blog, please check out my first novel, Giving Myself Away, about a divorced mom making tough choices and a fresh start.
7 thoughts on “Could folding your underwear change your life?”
I also switch to putting my T-shirts in sideways and arranging them in color. It is actually very helpful. However, I’m afraid I’m in the serious trouble with the stacks of paper like you. Maybe one day I’ll be able to read the book and get organized!
Thanks for responding, and best wishes in your quest to control paper clutter! I will be working on that very soon.
I’m doing the tidying also and I’m not as attached to clothes or all books as some people are. The test will be paper. I have files from attic to basement. But if I separate them from keepsakes it might work. And in the end I know I’ll be happy to have them in one place and know what I don’t have. And really? Do i need an owners manual to a TV remote control? I think I can figure that one out.
Thanks for replying! I just started on paper this week. It sounds like you have a good plan for yours… good luck!
The clothes thing has changed my life. And concentrating on my stuff even when I live with semi-hoarders, has helped.
That’s great to hear… and gives me hope that I can do this too. Thanks for replying!
[…] Now that I’m keeping up with new papers coming into the house, phase two is eliminating all of the old clutter I let accumulate over the past twenty-five years. I recently read and really enjoyed this revolutionary little book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo. I followed her advice to take care of clothing and books before moving on to paper clutter. I had success with this, which you can read about here. […]