Being organized just makes life easier. I am so glad you are here to join me on this organization challenge and journey.
I know I am more productive, more peaceful, and more joyful when I am not surrounded by unnecessary things.
Let’s tackle the books today.
Grab all of your books into one central location. I chose to start with adult books. Once I was finished with those, I moved onto kids books.
While with the clothes I did not suggest putting them all on the floor at one time, now I think it is necessary. And you can do this in a corner or a closet or an area of the house that is not used a lot as you sort.
Why should you take them all of the shelf or out of the cabinet?
Because it is too easy just to straighten them up on a bookshelf. It is too simple to just make them look neat rather than declutter. We are only keeping books that spark joy.
Let me first tell you what I DID NOT keep.
I did not keep any books that I think I will SOMEDAY read. If my thought process went like this, “Someday, I will…” or “I just might read this one day when I have more time”, then I DID NOT keep it. Those things were not sparking joy, but we were instead dragging me down and reminding me of things I was not getting done.
As I was going through the books, I divided them into these categories.
If you have an extensive book collection, you might have to add some categories such as visual books or photography books or hobby books. This will just depend on your collection.
I touched each book and divided it into one of those four categories. Again, if I was just holding onto it to hold onto it, I put it in the not staying pile.
This is great wisdom from Marie Kondo in her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up:
Books are essentially paper-sheets of paper printed with letters and bound together. Their true purpose is to be read, to convey the information to their readers. It’s the information they contain that has meaning. There is no meaning in their just being on your shelves. You read books for the experience of reading.
Use that quote to measure each book against another. It really does no good just sitting on a shelf. It is just collecting dust and cluttering up our homes.
Now you are surrounded by all of your books. You are dividing them into categories. Let me show you now how to get these books organized once and for all.
This is a problem that I ran into when going through my books. I thought to myself “I started this, but did not read it. Should I hold onto it just in case?” or “I never read this. It is a perfectly good book. I should probably hold onto it.”
See those bolded words just in case and probably. Those are “warning” signs that it is clutter and not sparking joy.
Once I had all the books categorized into the four categories, I started with the books I read for pleasure. This stack was very small for me. I love to pass books on. Especially fiction books. I do not read fiction books more than once. So I pass them onto a friend and tell them to pass it onto a friend when they are done. It is like our own little library.
The books I did keep were nonfiction books that I feel like I will want to reference again for writing or homemaking purposes. I keep all of my books in a cabinet in the basement. When I need one of them for a project, I know exactly where to look. I do not feel like these books have any aesthetic value so this is why I do not keep them out in the open!
Now let’s move onto the second category cookbooks. This was an easy category for me to quickly weed through. Since we follow a Paleo lifestyle, any cookbooks that I own that are not Paleo-friendly or recipes we can eat not anymore were not kept. The few cookbooks that I own have a designated spot in my kitchen beside the stove. They too are behind a cabinet door.
Those two categories were simple enough for me, but the children’s books were not. There were some of these books that held special meaning, but the kids did not enjoy anymore. When I stumbled upon one of those books, I set it in its own pile for keepsake. These were to go in the keepsake bins in the basement.
My goal was to only have books on the kids shelves that they wanted to read and for their appropriate age level.
I did this by using the lower book shelves on the loft upstairs to hold categories of books: picture books, easy readers, chapter books, and reference books such as bibles and science books.
I then used the cabinets that are above the built in bookshelf to hold chapter books that they were not ready to read or were above their grade level. These will be easy to switch out when the time is right!
I am not sure how long this will last in these categories, but it will not be hard to get back in order now that they are decluttered.
The final category of books is magazines. I personally keep my Real Simple Magazine beside my bed. I flip through, look up a couple of things that interest me, then recycle it.
My husband is a different story. I let him keep his magazines in his bedside table, and I just start recycling when I have seen them sit there untouched for several months. It drives me crazy, but at least I have given him ample time to read.
I immediately recycle catalogs when I receive them. They just clutter up my home and if I really need to buy something, the internet will provide me with the best item and a lower price.
If you have collection magazines, then be sure to keep them in a safe, dry place. Vintage magazines should be kept away from little hands especially.
Now you have gone through the books and you feel so much lighter, but you have these stacks of books to get rid of.
We can either donate or sell the books.
For donations, I have had great luck with my local library. They have always graciously accepted my gently used books.
For books that are in great condition, I placed on Amazon for sale. Here is a little trick. Place your item as the lowest in its category. If the book is brand new, go a couple of cents lower than the lowest brand new price. Same for slightly used. Go a couple of cents lower than the lowest gently used price. This will help your books sell much faster.
Once you have gone through all the books and donated or listed your extras to sale, be sure to not let them pile up again.
When you finish a book that you do not need to keep, pass it onto a friend, donate it to your library, or sell it on Amazon. This way the books will not clutter up your home AGAIN.
Remember how I said we were going to get an organized home once and for all. Since we are going through each and every item and deciding why we are holding on it, we are allowing ourselves to not fall back into an unorganized home again.
Our homes will still get messy, but once we know these strategies, we will be able to stay on top of our homes and whip them back into shape in minutes.