De-Clutter by Category
I typically tell clients to take a room by room approach to organizing or de-cluttering. However, there are exceptions. The other day, I was working with Marie. She loved her books, and it seemed they were as one would imagine spread out among several bookshelves in multiple rooms and a few piles lurked on the floor next to furniture. We were trying to make space on the bookshelves for other items that needed a “home” so we needed to sort through books and start a donate pile.
When you focus on one category whether clothes, vases, Tupperware or books, it is helpful to see in entirety what you have in order to determine what can be donated or given to a friend. You may find you have 12 pairs of similar black pants among your closet and the guestroom closet and a few old pairs that have been sent to the attic. If I were to ask you initially, you may find yourself telling me you have 5 pairs of black pants.
Marie kept saying “I loved this book and want to read it again”. Pay attention to your words. Maybe the amount of times you say this for one bookshelf is fine and appropriate, but as you travel from room to room, you might notice you have a lot of books that you have read and hope to read again. When Marie put those along with the books she had yet to read, it was an eye-opener and provided her with some new-found insight into the volume(s) of books she had.
Of course, there are then the different categories of books: coffee table books, fiction, historical fiction, reference, old college text books, self-improvement books, decorating books, DIY books and on and on. Are you ever going to read that old college textbook again? I doubt it – let it go. Ask yourself if you found time in the day would you prefer reading a textbook or something more current that may interest you. If you are on an intellectual pursuit, might you choose a more relevant article over a textbook that may be outdated. Your children’s textbooks still around? There’s a reason they left them with you and didn’t take them to their new spot. Out they go! You and your children won’t miss them.
Is a book irreplaceable? If so, by all means keep it! Is it a paperback fiction book that the library would have? That makes the decision to let go easier. Of course, if your books are all neatly displayed on bookshelves, and you have space then go make yourself a cup of tea, grab a good book, and enjoy!