Thursday, January 20, 2011

Decluttering Progress

I finally started making progress on my decluttering project. I found a book in the library that's been pretty helpful. Instead of giving one method as though that's the only way to go, it offers a lot of different tips with a series of stages, with the idea that you can pick the ones that work for you. My idea of starting by getting rid of the obviously unnecessary stuff falls in with their plan of stages that starts with getting rid of the things you know you don't need.

I even got a couple of bookshelves sorted, with a box of books to take to a used bookstore and a big bag of books to donate to the library book sale. I'd been worrying over the to-be-read pile and how I need to read and then get rid of those books, but even aside from the TBR pile, I have way too many books and need to make room for the ones I love and know I'll re-read. I took a hard look at one of the bookcases in my office and realized that while there are some often-reread favorites, about a quarter of the books on that shelf were books I've never re-read and likely won't. Some I barely even remembered.

The tough thing is that a lot of my friends are authors, and a lot of the books I have were written by friends. Those are tougher to get rid of, even if I know I won't re-read them. But most of those people will never come to my house to know that I purged their books. The next shelf to be purged will be more difficult, since it's a shelf specifically dedicated to books by people I know, including autographed copies. I have a lot of autographed books that I don't particularly like since I used to make it a policy to buy at least the first book by authors I know, and I went to as many booksignings as I could, to be supportive. But only a couple of those people ever ended up returning the favor, so I feel a lot less obligated now. I guess for the autographed books I don't want to keep, I could cut the personalized page out of the books before donating them.

And if any author friends are reading this, I'm obviously not talking about your books. Actually, I'm not still in touch with most of these authors, so anyone likely to be reading this probably isn't being donated.

Anyway, having those shelves neat, without books piled around, makes me feel good, and it's liberating to clear out things that I don't love.

One of the tips this book suggested was to sort in stages. First, clear off a cluttered area by sorting items into boxes, one to be filed or dealt with (any immediate action items set aside) and one to be shredded, with a trash bag handy for trash. Then you can go through the to be filed box and create files based on what you need to file. That was a big lightbulb moment. I'd been thinking, based on an earlier organizing book I'd read, that it needed to go the other way, creating files and then sorting directly into the files, with the idea that you should touch each piece of paper as few times as possible. That's probably more efficient, but trying to do it that way has been holding me back from starting. Once I get the existing "to be shredded" boxes dealt with, I'll tackle the desk. I think having a clear desk will be a real boost to the system and will motivate me for other sorting.

Today, though, is going to be a writing day. I got a late start because of a dentist appointment this morning, but now I have a big scene to write that I think will be a lot of fun.

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