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?