I finished the magical tidying book over the weekend and all in all I was glad I read it–keeping a couple of things in mind.
One: Japanese cultures can be different, and the author might be slightly annoying. It helped me get over the 500 times she explains how she was reading organization magazines at five. Or when she says she kneels, introduces herself and bows to every house she works with. I also tried to think how her methods would have worked if I still lived in my midwest-sized house vs. my current NY-size apartment.
Two: the author reminds everyone they don’t need to be tidy to be happy. I chose to read the book because I wanted to, and I could be just as happy if I don’t want to follow everything or anything she says.
That being said, I did get pretty excited every time I read something she suggested that I was already doing. Like organizing my folded clothes like a file cabinet instead of stacking like they do in a store. And, although I know I broke her method by organizing papers first, I thought it was a good first go.
Day 1 started because my “file this later” stack of papers was getting a bit out of control, so I decided to try tidying it from what I had read thus far. The biggest issue I was having was remember what papers went in which folder (do medical bills go in the insurance folder or the bills folder?).
I ended up stopping partway through Monday night and not returning to it until Thursday morning. Between those three days I read the part in the book about tidying paperwork, and on Thursday I was able to clear even more papers than I had started doing Monday. All through sorting I kept a few things in mind.
Is it absolutely necessary to keep this? I kept past taxes, and important account info I know I reference from hard copy. I got rid of old utility bills (you can always reference them online), and any old job or insurance things that no longer pertained to me (even though it meant saying goodbye to proof of my past car ownership).
Will I need to reference this? Maybe not as imperative, but I did keep medical bills from this year and all of Mason’s orthodontic bills. I tried to be very selective about this, realizing the author would probably tell me to chuck them all, but I felt like these were mostly payment verifications I couldn’t easily find online. I did get rid of anything from last year, all old medical cards (why I kept these initially, I have no idea), and any instruction manuals or other things I could find online.
Does it spark joy? This was the biggest theme of the whole book. I kept one personal folder for each of us that we’ll periodically re-tidy. The folders have greeting cards and memorable papers, but also things we need like eyeglass prescriptions and medical notes for school.
I cheated a little because I have a second personal folder for ticket stubs. Although I would argue that these do spark joy, I realized I was saving way more than I needed. Everywhere we went I would end up saving all the tickets for everyone there, thinking that way I could remember who I had been with. But then I realized that was silly. If I couldn’t remember who I went with it must not have been that important. I also compromised with airline tickets, only keeping my departing flights and chucking my return flights. Maybe one day I can rid myself of those too, but for now I still enjoy them.
The last thing was to simplify. It feels so right to have a different folder for different items, but combining to bigger categories made it much easier to know where to put papers. And honestly, how often do you need to look for something in there?
Yay, before and after! It may not look that amazing, but I did get rid of about 2/3 of what I had. It felt so good to know I was ridding myself of excess.
Update: I cleaned my closet using this method too!