If you’ve often found yourself staring at a leaning stack of files, paperwork, bills and magazines, you’re not alone. Marie often says that when she helps clients address their papers during a KonMari tidying festival, the minimum amount of paper they discard fills two 45-liter bags.
After letting go of that much paperwork, your home and life will feel much lighter — and you’ll make more space for what sparks joy. Here are a few tips on organizing all those files and paperwork the KonMari way.
Set Aside Sentimental Paper Goods
The KonMari Method suggests tackling sentimental items at the end of your tidying festival for a good reason: they’re the hardest to let go. If you have paper goods such as love letters or children’s cards in your stack, set them to the side for now. Instead, focus only on the paper goods that creep into the home each day — form letters, coupons, bills, insurance statements, pay stubs, magazines, etc. Come back to any sentimental items later after you’ve finished all the other categories; it’s when you’ll feel most inspired and empowered.
“My basic principle for sorting papers is to throw them all away,” says Marie. This advice often surprises KonMari clients, but most people hold onto papers when it isn’t necessary or useful, simply because we “might” need them someday. Nothing about this habit sparks joy! To start discarding, use Marie’s rule of three: “Dispose of anything that does not fall into one of three categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time or must be kept indefinitely.”
Organize Files and Paperwork in Just Two Categories
Once you’ve discarded the majority of stored paperwork, it is time to divide and file the remaining items. Nothing could be simpler. Marie recommends dividing into two categories: papers to be saved and papers to be dealt with. For papers to be saved, you may also want to split documents into two subcategories: frequently used and infrequently used (insurance paperwork, car or home leases, etc.).
Give Your Paperwork a Designated Home
You’ll want to file and store your paperwork in one place only. Marie often recommends a vertical organizer for storing papers within easy reach and a letter tray for paper goods that “need attention,” such as bills or other letters that need a response. But remember that this is a temporary home for paper goods. It can help to dedicate a few minutes a day, or even a particular day of the week, to tackling that shelf!
These simple steps should get you well on your way to tidying up and organizing your files, paperwork, bills and letters. If you’re ready to dive more deeply into the KonMari Method — and learn the best practices for tidying every category of the home — try our online Fundamentals of Tidying course. Taught by Marie, this 10-part video series provides in-depth demonstrations, tips and techniques, plus checklists to help you every step of the way.