So many books, so little time – Frank Zappa.
For people who are keen to reduce their collection
Books open your mind to new worlds, concepts, ways of thinking, perspectives, adventures and can literally change your life. And yes, there are still some of us who still love (and need!) to have the physical copy to enjoy the full experience of reading. So, even if you’re on the bandwagon to shift from print to audio, but like to still keep books in your home here are some tips of what to do with your print books when you feel that they are getting a little out of control.
1. Set a space limit
This is a super simple and practical measure to decide how many books you want in your home. It may be that you only want to have one bookshelf with only one row of books. Or you may decide to buy another bookshelf and actually allow the collection to be functional in your home, instead of having books two rows deep and stacked on top of each other. Or you may decide to build wall-to-ceiling shelves with one of those awesome library ladders to really show off your collection of books, simply because they make your soul sing. Whatever space limit you decide on, no matter how big or small, is your choice in how you want the space to function. And it’s 100% tailored to your home.
I don’t think the system of one-in-one-out works in a practical sense with books, so I would encourage you to allow extra room in your space limit for a bit of growth, especially if you know you will continue to purchase books.
The space limit needs to be realistic and practical for how you use the space and how you want the space to look and feel.
Decide on a limit and stick to it. This will set you up for success as you begin to declutter.
2. Avoid physically touching the books as you declutter
This is a tip I learned when decluttering deceased estates. Touching items can often trigger memories and make us claim an item as ours, even though we may not really give two hoots about it. Touch is one of the most powerful senses, so removing this from the process can help you make clearer decisions throughout.
Have someone hold the books up for you as you declutter. If this isn’t an option, only read the cover of each book. Don’t flick through them or worse, start reading them. It’s not about searching for a reason to keep them. You will instantly know which ones you want to keep. Any that you feel unsure about, keep them and you can revisit them later on if need be.
3. Keep the books you want to read over and genuinely love
This point will resonate with some and others will be like “errm, who even reads a book more than once?!”. If you know that there are a series or specific books you want to re-read in your life or simply just love to look at and want in your home, keep them.
It’s a feeling-based decision. And you don’t have to explain every decision.
However, be careful not to use this as an excuse when decluttering.
4. Release the books back into the world, so others can enjoy them
Remember the joy you had when you read the book for the 1st time? Well, think about giving that experience to someone else – especially if that initial joy is truly exclusive to reading it for the first time and the first time only!
Sending your books away to a new home will give you a warm fuzzy feeling when you know that another human can experience what you did.
Books change lives. Do your bit and send them back into the world.
5. Assess how books enter and exit your home
Take a look at how books enter your home. If you don’t acknowledge how books enter your home, decluttering your collection will only generate temporary results. If you know you have a high volume entering your home, set up a system for your books to be released from it as well. If you buy a few books each year, appreciate how even a few extra books can create a cluttered feeling if the space is already feeling a bit tight!
Rotating books through your home doesn’t have to be a groundbreaking change. It can be a simple tweak.
It may be that you set a limit of how many you buy in a month, or it may be that you do a mini declutter on the 1st weekend of each month. Or when the space limit you agreed to becomes full, that’s your visual cue to declutter. Test out mini-systems and stick with the ones that work for you.
6. Peel back the layers – it’s a journey
Sometimes, decluttering your collection of books can’t be done in one hit. As you overcome mental blocks about letting go of your stuff, you get a clearer idea on why you hold onto some items and let go of others. If you declutter for a few hours, you will see this happen. You become more confident in your decisions and go into a state of flow. Yes, you will have piles around you that will look like a hot mess, but that’s all part of the decluttering process.
Keep revisiting your book collection until you have achieved the space limit – you will get there!
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