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How to Maximize Your Decluttering

Hello, my name is Amy, and I’m a bookaholic.

Seriously.  I love books.  I have been an avid reader from the time I was a toddler.  The library has always been one of my most favorite places on earth, and I have been taking my not-quite-two year old regularly since she was only about 12 months old.  Much to my delight, she is already obsessed with books herself.  Just this evening, in fact, we were Facetiming with my parents, whom she adores.  We recently got a new cabinet to organize all her toys, and my mom asked her what her favorite toy was.  She immediately ran over to the cabinet and pulled out a book.  That’s my girl!

While loving books and having a passion for reading is certainly not a bad thing, it can quickly start to take up a lot of precious space in your house.  We live in a society of stuff.  Somehow, stuff has become directly correlated with success, wealth, and status, among other things.  Well, for this organization nut, too much stuff is incredibly stressful and overwhelming.  And if you have kids, you know that it’s almost impossible to not have too much stuff.

I knew way before the holidays even arrived that we were going to have to make some major changes at our house if I wanted to keep my sanity intact.  The main thing that I knew would be necessary was a major, whole house purge.  I am currently right in the middle of this and, woo-wee, you should see some of the rooms in my house.  It’s a cruel irony that when you are organizing, things always get worse before they get better.  The better is worth it, though, so onward I trudge.

Today, I am only going to talk about decluttering books, but this is something that can be applied to just about any category of clutter.

How to maximize your decluttering efforts with this one simple step

As I said in the beginning of the post, I love books, and if you read this post last week, I even referred to myself as a book hoarder.  The funny thing is, though, that I rarely re-read books.  I’ve never been the type to have a favorite book, or favorites, that I read over and over again.  I have maybe read a handful of books more than once.  So, why can’t I seem to let them go?  Maybe because it’s fun to know that you have a multitude of far-reaching worlds and galaxies, to die for romances, thrilling adventures and mysteries, as well as countless “How-to”s right at your fingertips.  Whatever the reason…it was time to let go.

  So, here’s my simple two-step process for decluttering.  (My husband helped me with the books, since a lot of them were his.)

  1. We went through every bookcase in the house and boxed up books that we were willing to let go of for Goodwill.  The books that we kept were 1) music books (we’re both professional musicians, so these are pretty necessary to have on hand), 2) some biking/running books (we are both runners and occasional bikers), 3) religious/spiritual/inspirational books, 4) some favorites, 5) books we haven’t read, but plan on reading at some point, and 6) books that my daughter may enjoy someday.
  2. This is the only other step in the process, but it is absolutely vital.  A couple of days after you complete step one, repeat it.  Then, repeat it again a few days after that.  And so on and so on, until you go through step one and don’t clear out a single book from the shelves.  Then, and ONLY then, you are done.  I think I went through my shelves on 4 or 5 different occasions before finally declaring myself finished.

It’s hard to let go of things.  I think it’s just part of human nature.  It’s particularly hard to let go of a large quantity of things at one time.  That’s why going back with fresh eyes, a smaller stockpile, and a renewed determination will help you clear the maximum amount of stuff out.  And again, this is something that can be applied to many different areas of clutter – clothes, shoes, craft supplies, toys, etc.

How to maximize your decluttering efforts with this one simple trick

We ended up clearing 128 books out of our house!  The two main bookcases in my house are now looking pretty empty, which I’m loving.  I’m also excited because it means that they now need to be restyled.  Woohoo!  That’s the best part of the whole process, right?

If you are working on decluttering right now, as so many people are, try out the tip I mentioned above, and let me know how it goes.

Happy decluttering!

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34 Comments

  1. Amy, I’m a bookaholic, too. Though I do read books more than once, I know I have a lot that can just go now! I love your tip about going back again and again, continuing to purge until there’s not a single item that you want to donate.

    1. It really is so helpful to go back more than once. I got rid of SO many more books than I would have had I only gone through them once. It’s so hard to get rid of books, but I’m loving all the extra space!! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I find it easier to get rid of book since I know I can pretty much get my hands on it again through our local library; in fact over the past couple of years I’ve tried to stop buying books altogether. If I see a title I like or that my boys want to read we’ll snap a picture of the cover and then go through the phone pictures at home requesting them from our library. We only buy those books we have to.

    1. You know, the funny thing is, I’ve been using the library for most of my book needs for years now. I rarely can bring myself to buy books because, like you said, it’s free at the library. So, most of the books I had were either old, or had been gifted to me. Even though I rarely buy books, I still have a hard time getting rid of what I already have. It’s nice to have all the extra space now though!

  3. I totally agree about revisiting the clear out, we moved about 18 months ago and I would have sworn I’d got rid of everything we didn’t want yet even as we unpacked I found things in a “why on earth did I keep that” kind of way!
    I’m not sure I could be quite that ruthless with books, they are my downfall, I am a re-reader though, not may books on my shelf that I’ve not read at least 2 or 3 times! Maybe some of the non fiction can go…..

    1. Haha! Pretty sure I have stuff like that all over my house. Why on earth do I still have this? I’ve been working on slowly purging my whole house of that kind of stuff. Books are so hard to get rid of though! I do love being with them, now that they’re gone. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. 128 books? Wow! I came over from ‘That DIY party’ and I just had to click the picture of the pile of books. I am looking at my bookcase in front of me ,as I am typing this. It is bursting at the seams, but I have such a hard time letting go! I do have a 5 book high pile though that I have decided to give away:)

    1. Haha! I love it. You’ve got to start somewhere, right?! It IS hard to let go of books, and even though 128 is quite a lot, I probably still have at least that many (if not more) still at my house. So, my bookshelves are definitely emptier, but certainly not completely empty. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

    1. It’s so hard to get rid of books! It feels great once you do, though! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Amy,
    I love books and have so many books. I rather read a book then read on on my Iphone. Thank you for sharing at Dishing it and Digging it link party.

    1. I agree – I’d rather read an actual paper book, than read something on an e-reader. I love books, too, but it was time for some (or a lot!) of them to go. Thanks for reading!

    1. Yes, it’s taken me a long time to let go as well. I can’t say that my bookcases are completely in order though. They’re relatively empty now, so I really need to do some decorating/styling! Thanks for looking!

    1. Good luck with it! I have been working my way through my whole house, and I’m just amazed at how much stuff I’m getting rid of. I’m really in a ruthless mood with it, and every day I see things that I think “Nope, that’s got to go!” Haha! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. I did this last year Amy! I also wait a few days and go back when I Declutter. I think it “sharpens” our value skills – as in – what do I really value? I donated a ton of my books because they represented the past and they weren’t necessarily current or evergreen interests. It really is liberating!

    1. Yes! Get rid of the past. I’ve been working my way through my whole house, and it feels amazing every time I drop a few boxes off at Goodwill. I still have a ways to go, but my house is already less cluttered, which makes me so happy. Thanks for taking a look!

  7. Thank you so much for linking at #overthemoon! I look forward to seeing what you share every week. Please come back for #WonderfulWednesday or #ThursdayFavoriteThings. Don’t forget to comment your link #’s so I can be sure to visit and you get a chance to be featured! Pinned and shared.

    1. Thanks so much for everything you do, Marilyn! I love being able to link up at your parties and get inspiration from all the other bloggers. I’ll be sure to comment with my link numbers from now on. Thanks again!

  8. That’s an incredible clean-out! Like you, I have a tendency to read books only once. We don’t have space to keep many books around, so I’ve started using our local library’s Kindle lending program. Love it. No money spent on a book to just sit and take up space!

    Though, I think your method would be a fantastic way for me to get rid of other things like clothes or toys, too!

    1. Yes, I love the library! And it really is a great method for just about anything. I always get rid of so much more stuff when I go back and revisit it later. 🙂 Thanks for looking!

  9. I have a home library that I adore, it is wonderful to sit there and read, surrounded by books. I have purged some books that I know I’ll never re-read, but some I may want to at some point. Some of the cookbooks went out recently, along with some I haven’t read but have no interest in reading – they were DHs book selections that he has finished. I have been known to re-read an entire series waiting for the next installment. Sometimes just taking the book in my hands allows me to remember parts of it, like a favorite photo. Maybe someday I’ll purge it all, but for now, it would look a bit weird to have a library and no books.

    1. Haha! It would be weird to have a library with no books. I may be more inclined to hang on to my books if I had a dedicated space for them. Unfortunately, I don’t, so the space that they take up ends up being pretty precious space. Thanks for stopping by, and I’m jealous of your library!

  10. Amy, I’m in the middle of decluttering my home office and what a task it is. The thought of having to do it more than once makes me cringe, but I can see why it makes sense. I just came across the Conquer Your Clutter super bundle and I realised I’m not the only one who’s screaming for help!
    Thanks for being an inspiration!

    Visiting from #HappyNow linkup

    1. It is tough to go back through it again, when you’ve already done it. But I get rid of SO much more stuff that way. So, for me, it’s totally worth it in the end. Good luck with your office! And thanks for taking a look!

    1. It’s definitely the key for me. I get rid of so much more, when I go back later and sort again. Thanks for looking!

  11. Amy, this is absolutely brilliant. I always end up keeping things, that I probably shouldn’t, when I declutter. Although your way makes the process longer, I would only have to do it once. That would save so much time. I have found that the more things I have the more stressful it is, each thing carries responsibility, and I have enough to be responsible for. I am so going to try these tips so that I can declutter once and for all.

    1. It does make it a bit longer, but I get rid of so much more this way. And you’re right, we’re responsible for enough as it is. So, I’m happy to move as much as I can out of my house!

  12. Oh I know this problem. Turning from a little magpie to a minimalist (more or less) wasn’t an easy transformation for me, but after collecting heaps and heaps of books, clothes and all sorts of trinkets it was just necessary. And it felt so good! One year later I’m still not done with decluttering, but since I’m planning to move later this year, I’m sure I will get rid of many more things by then 🙂

    Thanks for linking up with the Friday Favorites linky party!

    1. I’d love to work towards minimalism, but at this point, it’s just not feasible. Sigh. I’ll declutter as much as I can, but it’s tough. I worked my tail off after Christmas to weed out what we didn’t need and organize what was left. This past weekend, my family was in town to celebrate my daughters 2nd birthday, and I literally feel like I’m back at square one. So. Many. Toys. Someday I’ll get there. Thanks for looking!

  13. I love to read, I have ever since I was in grade school. It is the one of the few things I am grateful to my stepmom for, inspiring a love of reading. You are so right when you say there are adventures and far away lands right there at our fingertips! It’s funny that you rarely read a book more than once, I don’t either!! I am the same with most movies…once I have seen it, I’ve seen it. This is a great way to purge out some of the overflow and let go. Thank you for joining us for our first ever Create and Celebrate!!

    1. I rarely watch movies more than once, also! I’m not much of a movie person, in general, though. I much prefer to read. 🙂 Thanks so much for taking a look!

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