top of page

Marie Kondo and Swedish Death Cleaning on Paper Clutter

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

Who? and what? I hear you say!

As part of my series on paper clutter, I thought I would give an overview of how two of the most popular methods of decluttering and organising tackle the issue.

I should imagine a lot of you have heard of Marie Kondo and how she revolutionised the world of 'Tidying Up'. For those of you who don't know about her, she has written, amongst others, two books : "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying" and "Spark Joy".

Marie Kondo gives very specific and detailed instructions on how to declutter your whole home and how to organise everything in it. Her folding techniques alone have gone viral!

'Spark Joy' has illustrated guides showing you how to fold clothes, store bags and jewelry alongside many other household items.

But what about her take on paper clutter? Paper is the third of the categories she tackles and her basic rule, which she states in both books is "DISCARD EVERYTHING"!

In truth, she asks you to look at each piece of paper with the intention of getting rid of it. This way you should only be keeping those documents which have real need and usefulness. She wants you to sort into three categories, currently in use, needed for a limited period of time and to be kept indefinitely. An excellent tip is not to include sentimental items in this category of decluttering because it will only serve to hold you back , concentrate on the papers that give you no joy and finish the job "in one fell swoop".

Now you have discarded much of your paperwork and categorised the remaining, she advocates a very simple filing system, papers to be saved and papers to be dealt with.

You've seen my deal with it tray before!

In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, Marie Kondo asks us to keep all papers that need to be dealt with in one spot and filed vertically. I manage one of these requirements!!

The papers you are keeping need to be further sub - divided, again very simply into infrequent use - wills, guarantees, policies and more frequent use - agendas, newspaper cuttings, recipes. These need to be accessible and filed so you can see the items. She does acknowledge that some papers in this category are harder to deal with. However, she is consistent in her message that if an item doesn't spark joy and you have no legal requirement to keep it, then it really isn't necessary.

Swedish Death Cleaning sounds morbid but in reality it makes a great deal of sense! Although the practice of 'Dostadning' has been around for many years in Scandinavia it became more known worldwide when "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning" by Margareta Magnusson became a best seller. The principle behind Swedish Death Cleaning is to make the whole situation of dealing with your estate after you are gone easier for your loved ones. When we die everything that is left will need to be sorted by someone, prolonging the grieving process and causing pain that could be avoided if we had less 'clutter'. If I had one Louis Vuitton handbag and two children, would I inadvertently cause strife between the two of them because it was both precious and had sentimental value? Would it be easier to sell the bag whilst I am here and split the proceeds between them whilst I can enjoy watching them spend it? The Swedish Death Cleaning mantra is not 'does this item spark joy?' but 'will anyone be happier that I kept this?', 'will I ever need this again?', 'will someone else need it?'

Margareta Magnusson , like Marie Kondo doesn't think it's a good idea to sort through sentimental items like photographs and letters as part of your paper declutter. She goes into very little detail regarding the rest of your paper work, her thoughts being that you need to keep everything as easy as possible for the executor. Make sure the important documents like will, insurance certificates and up to date bank accounts and passwords are all together, safe and easy to find.

As I move through various areas of the house decluttering and reorganising I will occasionally refer to these books, for inspiration more than direction, because, as I've said before I really don't think there is a single approach that suits everybody completely.

Well! This has turned into quite an essay!! I thoroughly enjoyed researching this blog, please contact me if you think I can help you, message me on my facebook page, email me or contact me via the chat bubble on my website.

12 views0 comments


bottom of page