Next we move on to books. I love books so this category was tough for me at first. I’m a reader and easily accumulate books but now I just as easily send them on to their next reader. We have three small bookshelves in the living room. One holds fiction and non fiction. One is for cookbooks. The last has yearbooks, family photo books and coffee table art books. There’s a few treasured first editions on top of the piano and the kids’ room has a book shelf that I’m constantly editing.

Same as clothes, take every book off the shelves, not just the ones you want to pass on. Every one. This stirs up the energy of the shelf and the books themselves. There are many places happy to accept books – libraries, the Vietnam Vets or you can sell them on Amazon.

Take all your books off the shelves.


Nice and tidy!

Nothing wrong with an almost empty shelf.










Ooh this category can give a girl a headache. Be strong. You must be absolute. Marie Kondo’s basic rule for papers, “discard everything.” Yes, you must be brutal. With our small space this is the only solution – take no prisoners! I am a paper girl. I’ve kept a journal since third grade. I make vision boards and lists. I still have a paper planner (my Passion Planner!) I write paper letters and cards. Paper is my jam. Still, I am  brutal.

I have a big folder of Shepard’s kindergarden work that comes home daily. I look at it, save a couple examples of his work then throw most of it away. At the end of the school year I’ll go back over it and keep a few examples of his progress throughout the year then discard the rest.

All school notices get discarded. I record the information in my calendar then throw the paper away. Use a magazine holder for a “pending” box so the papers can stand upright and be easily located. Make time each week to tackle this pending folder so it doesn’t get out of control and as much as possible deal with papers on the spot. If you come across a business card, put the number in your phone and toss the card.

Can you spot the cat? This was the contents of my file cabinet. See the bottom for the “after” shots.

My file cabinet and junk drawer “before”











Keep only the papers that have a clear purpose. The ones you currently need, ones you’ll need for a limited time (current warranties) and some you’ll keep forever (vital records).

Credit Card Statements can almost always be directly thrown away or better yet go to your banking app and go paperless. If there’s a statement you need later for tax purposes print it out at tax time. Instruction manuals – in the bin. If there’s a time when you need a manual, everything will be online. No need to clutter your file cabinets or book shelves.

Course manuals, clippings and greeting cards get a little trickier but the goal still is to discard all or almost all of them. When was the last time you referred back to an old school book? Almost never, right? I had dozens of books on Pilates and yoga clogging my shelves. I do refer to one easy-to-read anatomy book and another one with great Pilates pictures so I kept those and donated the rest.

I LOVE a good clipping. I’ve become better about getting out the scissors, but when I can’t resist I have an attractive notebook with plastic pockets to save the article or photograph. I know we have Pinterest but I still love paper!

I love my clippings!

When I see a client this category always comes with some anxiety, especially if you have a home office or work from home. I always bring along a handy list of what to keep for tax purposes. It’s better to be safe than sorry. We still shred and throw out mountains of paper. Alan keeps our tax papers and receipts at his office but here’s ALL my home papers.

“After” I decided hanging files don’t work for me anymore. I use notebooks and folders for my papers.

The black file folder is for vital records, etc. The pink one for stationery supplies. The blank book is for vision boards and photos I like.

We’ll get to old photographs and love letters in the sentimental items section.For now just tackle all your other papers. You’ll feel so much lighter if you can get this difficult category under control.