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7 piles you need to make when sorting papers.

Papers is a huge category and one that many people find quite hard. I love them though, particularly the end result when my clients look so relieved!

For Papers, you will need to find yourself a flat, clear space to work in. Gather papers from all over your home and bring it into one space. Sort them into categories, for example, bills, receipts, pensions paperwork, certificates and passports, manuals, newspaper clippings etc. Do not over categorise, or get caught up in trying to order things by date at this point.

Once you have it all together, you will need to handle each piece to check which pile it needs to go into:

1. Recycle – any piece that is unnecessary and has no personal information.

2. Shred – any piece that is unnecessary and has personal information.

3. Pending – any piece of paper that has something on it that needs an action.

4. Frequent Use – anything that needs to be referred to frequently.

5. Important Documents – birth &marriage certificates for example.

6. Limited time – anything that you need to keep, but for only a set length of time (such as tax documentation).

7. Deep archive – anything that needs to be kept indefinitely, but does not need frequent access, such as building warrants.

picture shows woman turning page of notebook
Decluttering papers can be overwhelming

Some notes on some of the sub categories.

Reference Papers:

Will you refer to them again? Particularly for courses you go on. For example, I still frequently refer back to my notes on anything to do with Professional Organising, but I have definitely ditched the revision notes that I made for my degree in Genetics that I took over 20 years ago.


Do you still have the original item? It is not infrequent for me to find old manuals in households where the item they are referring to has already been discarded. Even if you still have the item, ask yourself whether you truly need to keep the manual, or whether you would look for it information on it online.


Check whether they are still in date and whether you have the necessary receipt to go with them.


If you’ve paid them, do you need them any longer?

How long you keep paperwork for is entirely up to you. If you are in the UK, then HMRC has this to say on the matter (spoiler, it basically says 2 years for most things, 7 if you are self employed);

What you keep is also entirely up to you. I have some clients who feel safer keeping practically everything, from old phone bills to bank statements to the bumpf that comes with credit card statements. I have some who like to keep old bills so that they can compare what they paid previously to what they pay now, and then I have some who are more like me; bills get discarded pretty much as soon as they are paid and most stuff (bank statements etc) are all online. It is whatever Sparks Joy for you as usual in KonMari, everything is completely personal to you.

As papers is such a big category for many people, I am going to leave the task here for this week and next week we’ll work on ways to organise the remaining paper and on how to keep on top of it.

For the entire series on decluttering and organising your home, check out this blog:

For a set of Guides on various subjects, check out this page:

Interested in more? Check out 12 Weeks To Tidy:


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