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Decluttering papers was an easy category for me. Much easier than decluttering clothes. And far easier than decluttering books.
It made for an easy transition, since decluttering my books excavated serious questions for self-reflection. In fact, it was so easy I almost forgot it was a category. But I rely on Marie Kondo’s book to keep me on track in decluttering and in writing. Since it was a lackluster category all-around, I’ve decided to include komono in this blog as well.
Sorting papers is as boring as it sounds. You collect all your papers – like lecture materials, greeting/birthday cards, business cards, warranties, equipment manuals, taxes, etc. You place them all out in front of you. And you discard pretty much everything. You throw it all in the trash except warranties that are still in effect, tax information that is still in the seven-year window, other financial or legal documents, etc.
I’m not here to go into detail about the specifics. But the gist is that you get rid of all the excess paper you’ve kept all these years. That means throwing out the birthday card that Bob gave you that doesn’t spark joy or those notes you swear you’ll review but just haven’t yet.
So far this has been my smallest and easiest section. I regularly clean out my papers anyway. And at the end of 2016, I tossed all my nursing school materials. So I had already done the bulk of this work. I moved through sorting papers swiftly and moved on to Komono.
According to Marie Kondo, “komono” is Japanese for miscellaneous items. And she breaks down this category into 10 sub-categories. Which could grow depending on the variety of komono any person has.
I found it easy to stay within the sub-categories she outlined. The sub-categories are as follows: 1. CDs/DVDs, 2. Skin care products, 3. Makeup, 4. Accessories, 5. Valuables, 6. Electrical equipment, 7. Household equipment/office supplies, 8. Household supplies, 9. Kitchen stuff, and 10. Other things, like spar change, figurines, decorations, etc.
You go through each sub-category one at a time. I took my CDs and DVDs and discarded what I didn’t use. Which was easy. I could count on one hand the amount of CDs and DVDs I owned. Now I own one less.
Then I moved on to skincare products, makeup, and accessories. I broke a few rules here. I lost track of the whole asking if the item sparks joy thing. And I combined three groups into one. I did that because this was basically my side of the bathroom. I just dumped my bathroom drawers and emptied the cabinets onto to the floor and started chucking things.
I slowed down when I got to my perfumes and was taken on an emotional ride. Another unexpected twist in this process of decluttering. I’m beginning to see a pattern here. Things are going well – super easy, even – then bam! Emotional turmoil.
In the last few months, I’ve stopped wearing all my perfumes except one. I’ve become sensitive to synthetic perfumes. And the one I still wear does bother me a little, but it smells so good and I bought it in Paris, so I couldn’t stand to part with it. Let alone stop wearing it. But all the other perfumes have taken a seat on the back row – indefinitely. If I wear a scent on a daily basis it’s an essential oil. So I was happy to discard several perfumes that no longer served me. Except three.
The first one I took out had been in my life since I was a pre-teen. The second one I wore heavily when Evan and I first started dating. The last one was no longer being produced. Evan had hunted it down and bought multiple bottles for me. I still had one unopened bottle remaining. These three bottles posed an unexpected challenge. A tearful and emotional challenge.
Memories came flooding back to me as I looked at and smelled each one. Perhaps these perfumes belonged in the sentimental section, which Marie Kondo insists on saving for last. But that insight didn’t trigger until later.
I sat with each bottle individually for some time. If you had seen me, you would swear I had gone crazy as I sat gazing deeply into bottles of perfume on the floor in my bathroom. The first one I knew would be the easiest to let go. It had been in my life so long. It was simply time for it to go. I laid it aside. Thanked it for its years of service. And moved on.
The second one was a little bit harder for me to let go. It felt like I was letting go of my memories of me and Evan on our first dates. All the late nights, parties, and intimate conversations. It was a wild, fun, and passionate time. But I knew that my body no longer enjoyed the smell. It made my nose itch and eyes water. And occasionally I’d sneeze. I said thank you and placed the perfume in the bag.
Finally, I got to the bottle that Evan romantically procured. It was a beautiful smell to me – at the time. Now it smells more like alcohol than jasmine. Perhaps due to a combination of aging perfume and changes to my olfactory sense.
What’s funny is that this smell wasn’t even linked to particular events. The emotion came with the memory of how he surprised me with three full bottles of what was my favorite perfume at the time. It was so romantic and sweet. He’s so romantic and sweet. He always does sweet things like that. I felt like I was letting him down by discarding this final bottle. I felt guilty. I cried.
I then proceeded to mope around the apartment while my belongings took a vacation on the bathroom floor. I took the final bottle of perfume and set it on my table. I thought I’d wait until he got home and get permission to discard it.
I stared at it for a while. I wrote about it. I cried some more. Then I started to feel better. And I realized it was fine for me to discard the bottle. I didn’t think anything bad would happen if I did. I gambled that he wouldn’t actually be upset with me. So, like the others, I thanked the perfume for its memories and gently laid it to rest in the discard pile.
After that experience, I haphazardly sorted through and discarded the remaining goods strewn across my bathroom floor. This is where I broke some rules. I forgot to keep asking if things sparked joy. I simply threw away what I didn’t use. A few days later when I realized I had forgotten this crucial step, I noticed there were a few things not properly sorted. I re-sorted them. This time I asked the right question. And I discarded even more belongings.
This was only into sub-categories two, three, and four in a 10 sub-category list. Since the perfumes took such an emotional toll, I decided to take a break for a few days. Which is something I suggest, if you decide to embark on the decluttering journey.
Never push your way through the process without giving yourself ample time to explore emotions and feelings that surface. The whole process is a deep dive into one’s emotional psyche. And it would be unwise to force your way through without honoring yourself in the process. Honoring yourself makes the whole journey worthwhile.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog about the rest of the Komono sub-categories.
Each week there seems to be a little gift that anchors the decluttering journey for me. And I’d love to share it with you. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign-up on my email list in the bar at the top of the page. That’s how you’ll stay connected and get these posts directly to your inbox.