The books and (business-y, non-sentimental) papers are done!
It took five days of fairly steady work. I also painted some furniture, took children to art and music lessons, cooked dinner, washed laundry, cleaned here and there, had a ladies' tea at a tea shop on Friday, and Kondo'ed my makeup and skincare. I sent about a dozen boxes of books to new homes. My husband had to take a special trip to the recycling center on Saturday just to get rid of all the paper I generated.
The amazing thing was that I'm a purge-er by nature, and had in fact done a major purge of books and a major re-organization of papers two years ago when we had our basement renovated!
How do I love Marie Kondo's approach? Let me count the ways:
1. The benchmark for 'sparking joy' is so useful. When I pick a book up, do I feel a surge of happiness? Or do I feel vague regret that I never finished it, a pang of resentment that I didn't like it, or perhaps guilt that I don't follow whatever it directed me to do? Now I get to gaze upon a collection of books that make me happy by their very existence in my home.
2. She advocates avoiding purchasing storage and organizing bins because she believes that once the possessions are whittled down to only what sparks joy, the simplest and most basic of storage containers (she loves shoeboxes) are all that one needs. Late in the week as I finished filtering through books and tackled the papers I saw how true this was. Suddenly my house was presenting me with containers. It was weird! And it was great.
3. By going by category and not by room you really tackle EVERYTHING. One night I opened my husband's nightstand drawer and gasped "a book! I didn't see this one!" and he replied dryly "you are totally obsessed." But this process is genius. It works because you face every item in that category that you own: you see the magnitude of it. And then, because all the books are off the shelves (or clothes out of the dressers and closet, for instance, or papers out of the filing cabinet) you have to pay close attention to what you put back on the shelves. This is a totally different approach than looking at bookshelves and selecting a few titles that you don't think you need anymore. Putting all items in that category together, picking up, and handling each one forces you to connect with the item and decide whether you truly want it to grace your bookshelves.
4. In assessing items you can determine what role that item has played in your life, express gratitude for it, and then pass it on. She notes that sometimes an item's role was to teach you that you don't actually need it. Isn't that true at times!
I did not follow her advice to a T on getting rid of all paperwork. For instance, she suggests that you do not ever need the owner's manual for various household items, but my husband and I actually *use* our owner's manuals. Just this summer I mowed the lawn for the first time ever and I taught myself how by sitting on the mower and reading the manual! I did get rid of any manuals to items that are simply intuitive or easy to operate.
I had dreaded working through the books, but am so glad I did. Now I can tackle some easier categories--but first I'm happy to slide back into the regular school routine for a while. Autumn is here, we have many great books to read, and I found a cute book on pies that I'd forgotten all about--so I think I might bake my way through the season, now that I have more breathing room!