tidying, day 30

It’s been about 30 days since I picked up the short and lovely book titled the life-changing magic of tidying up, by marie kondo. The book’s rather intriguing promise is that if you complete the full decluttering process, you won’t rebound. I think it’s true, for two reasons: 1) The tidying method changes your relationship to your possessions; and 2) If you’re going to rebound, you probably won’t finish in the first place anyway. Will I make it to the finish line? Well, I do intend to, but even if I don’t, my home and my heart are already breathing easier.

I haven’t been tidying for 30 days, mind you. There are some mega-tidy days in there, where I might spend 6 to 8 hours in a day — maybe 2 for the clothes and 2 for the books — plus some “I have a couple hours here or there” kind of days.

I’m going forward mostly in the order she recommends. First I went through and tidied my clothes — I took down and handled every last scrap, using the touch of my hands and the feeling in my heart to decide whether I wanted it or not. Next, books. Books, as you might imagine, are extra complicated for a writer. I wrote abut those here and here.

Next, papers! The short version of the story is that I’ve spent about a week, on and off, and our four-foot-tall recycling bin is full. I still have two filing cabinets to go through, plus some stack files. Oh yes, and multiple boxes of kids’ art and schoolwork. All these years, I’ve done a fabulous job of organizing a whole lot of papers . . . papers that I’ll probably never need! I didn’t realize I was setting myself up for hours and hours of archaeology — the meticulous digging for the papers I actually do want or need.

In the years before I had my last child, I taught a number of technical and business writing classes at the UW and local community colleges. I saved a whole lot of papers. I need to save some of them. But which? And for what purpose?

What I have now, more or less, is one file cabinet full of teaching portfolio materials and course materials organized by subject matter rather than course. More importantly: an easy mind. I know I haven’t left a difficult task for later.

Oh, and as a bonus: I found a super awesome handout called “Calculating a Fog Index.” It’s a simple method for taking a writing sample of but 100 words and finding out the reading level by grade (7th through college graduate). Now, where was that SBAC practice test again, hmm?

One response to “tidying, day 30

  1. Pingback: On tidying papers | Kristin Ann King

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