Congratulations – you’ve almost made it through the first full week of the Get Organized Challenge! Today’s challenge may take a bit longer, but you can finish up over the weekend if you need extra time. Let’s tackle your stash of books.
A quick reminder of the approach we are using:
1. Gather your supplies: (you can reuse these same supplies each day)
- Boxes or bags labeled with “Donate”, “Elsewhere” and “Store”
- Trash can and recycle bin
- Damp rag/wet wipe
2. Remove everything from the area (yes, everything) and wipe it clean with a damp rag.
3. Sort the items into these categories: (The Seana Method’s R.E.D.D.S. system)
- R- Restore: these are the items going back in
- E- Elsewhere: these are items to keep, but that don’t belong in this space
- D- Donate
- D- Dispose: trash or recycle
- S- Store: items you want to keep for sentimental reasons, or perhaps for a long-term future use, but which you don’t regularly use. These items will eventually need to go into a bin/box in an attic, basement, or closet.
4. Keeping the “Restore” items out, and put all other items into the boxes/bags you prepared.
5. Move items to their final destination:
- Put the “Restore” items back into your designated area.
- Carry the “Elsewhere” box/bag around your house and redistribute its contents.
- Move the “Donate” box/bag to the car to be donated.
- Trash/recycle the “Dispose” items.
- Put the “Store” items into a container and move it to a remote location for future access.
Books have many positives: they make great gifts, inspire, provide instruction and are entertaining. As a result, many of us have piles of books. The explosion of e-readers may lessen this situation in the future, but hard copy books will likely always be around.
The key to organizing your books is setting LIMITS. Having some books is wonderful, having too many books is a burden. Since this is a quick task, we aren’t going to sort through your entire library. Think of today as a productive first round.
Quickly (don’t overthink it!) cull through and stack the ones that you…
- Don’t want to read,
- Won’t read again,
- See are damaged, (dispose of these)
- Determine are out of date (your old textbooks?), or
- Don’t want for ANY REASON.
It is important to not feel guilty about passing a book along. Books, like all possessions, should only be kept if they are enriching your life today. Place any books you don’t want into your “Donate” bin/bag.
When sorting, avoid the following “excuse traps”:
- “I might need that in the future.” Odds are, if you need a piece of information, you are going to search online rather than dig through a box of old books or magazines.
- “I bought the whole series, I can’t give it away.” Yes you can! Someone will be thrilled to receive a complete set.
- “But it was given to me by my grandmother.” That may be true, but if you aren’t going to read it (or display it), let it go. Take a photo of the book if you are afraid you will forget it.
- “I’m saving them for my grandchildren.” That’s terrific, but you don’t need to save them all, only your favorites.
Once you’ve completed your quick sort, compare the number you have left to your shelves. If you have sufficient space, you can reload and be done. If you have too many to fit, use the space you have as the limit on how many to keep. For instance, you might say “I can dedicate these 2 shelves to fiction and this 1 to reference and self-help” and then keep only what fits on these shelves. Designating a limited, physical space is a great trick for helping you decide how many to keep.
Also, if you are keeping some books for a long term use (e.g. SAT study books for younger children), you don’t need to keep them out on your easily accessible shelving. Instead, put the books in a clear, labeled box and move to long-term storage.
Remember, books are the ultimate “reusable.” Donating books is easy, practical and environmentally friendly. Almost all charities accept book donations, so be sure to move the books you’ve decided to give away out of your space and into your car so you can get them to their final destination.
Which books are the hardest for you to give away?