This post actually hits close to home. Before my 2nd baby decided to come 2 weeks earlier than planned, I had long decided to re-organize our bookshelves and papers. To me they looked totally disorganized and I did not feel I knew what was all hiding in my shelving space, I felt I needed more space for certain papers and less space for others papers and books.

How did that happen? Well, I’m just as normal as you are. Let’s face it, as we are folks who are perfectly willing to let go and toss clothing that no longer fits and sports equipment that served no purpose other than gathering dust, we are also folks that has a very hard time to let go of a book we last read 5 or 10 years ago, or a magazine (article) we have not looked at since our last move or even college, or this video / DVD we might want to watch “someday”.

It is not just a difficult subject for me and my collegues to organize this subject with a disordered client, it’s actually outright dangerous to discuss with another otherwise very reasonable adult that it is ok to toss this 1989 copy of the “Encyclopedia Britannica” or an outdated “National Geographic” and we risk each time to get a whole in our head or lose a limb! I’m the kind of girl who likes adventures, so I’m going to do my best to help you trim, lighten and regain control over your collection.

My husband is thrilled as well, as we are continuing on our “Mission Livingroom” to re-organize our shelves…and therefore books. I’ll let you know how it goes with my hubby when we tackle all those coaching and process-books we have in our shelves and if I lose my limb in the process of doing so. For all of my longer-term clients and friends – don’t worry…I’m not doing it alone…all the physical work is done by our hired helper and my hubby :)!

We did not talk about paper etc. yet, will come in 2 weeks, but you will find some similarities when you look back at it later.

Let’s dig in, here are the 4 Steps:

Step 1 – Sorting by format

First of all, you start  with sorting the items by format:

  • Books in one pile
  • Magazines in another
  • Audio recording (CD’s) separate from visual entertainment (DVDs)
  • Video games segregated from Computer programs

Then you break each of those piles into smaller junks, by sorting out by subject (for example: fiction, gardening, jazz, classical, comedy, action, romance, business). If your business books are covering a different subject, then break down even further (in my home that would be coaching, process management, organizing, mindset, personal growth, marketing, sales).

Finally, take a second to alphabetize within each subsection, or color – I prefer alphabet by artist then title, but you choose what fits your liking.

Especially in the beginning, I recommend labelling each shelf when it’s not so obvious or when it is organized in boxes (like our DVDs and CDs). In case it is not so hidden or my clients feel very unsure, I create an easy accessible master index, color-coded when you are a visual type like me for instance!

Step 2 – annual maintenance

This is huge actually. Can I please, PLEASE ask you to go through your collections at least once a year and sort out what no longer serves you or interests you personally any longer?

I’m NOT saying to throw anything in the trash – God forbid – but I’m pretty sure we find someone who would love to read what we’ve outgrown. Sell? Donate? Give to a friend or colleague? Some communities have open public cases where you can put your old friends for someone living in the same community to read or there are book sales that benefit a charity etc.

If you are having a hard time to decide what should stay with you, ask yourself this question:

CAN I GET THIS INFORMATION AGAIN EASILY (should I need it in the future)?

To give you some examples of places where to find data like that – library, via download / streaming, internet, or another reliable resource.

And if you’re keeping stuff that you yourself don’t care about, someone else might want it, you are not the lending library – pass it on and let it go!

Step 3 – magazines

This is my weakness – I love reading Organizing magazines, Joyce (which is a German Christian magazine) or Newsletters that I print out. Guess what happens a lot? Yep, caught me! There are laying around the house for months and months past their expiration date, as I hope to find the time for a cover-to-cover read. Sounds familiar?

This is what I’ve learned:

  1. Just because I enjoy reading a single article, doesn’t mean I have to read the whole publication.
  2. As soon as the latest edition arrives on my doorstep, I always scan the index for articles of interest first, and actually rip out ALL the pages that DO NOT interest me! Feels like in Dead Poet’s Society. I promise this does not qualify you to go to hell. Then I have a “to read” file where those pages of interest go into sorted by date, beginning with the oldest one. I know, I’m a little nerdy here. 🙂 The rest goes straight into the bin (paper or recycling of course!).

Once I reviewed or read those articles, I keep the once that inspire me and come in handy for future reference and the others I toss.

I’ll put the ones for future reference into a binder with larger categories (ex. Organizing) and smaller sub categories (ex. Time management or Productivity).

Step 4 – the collections

I have clients who love to collect certain magazines and have the entire volume of periodicals (makes especially sense for the historical/collectible magazine or professional journals). Then you need certainly a better way to store them than in piles. Try vertical magazine boxes (the kind with the angle cut in the front that allows you to see their spines) – one organizer per title or per year, aligned upright on a bookshelf where you can actually access them easily and refer back to your reading material.

If you have many books, don’t tackle ALL of them at the same time. Start sorting your books category by category. I use laundry baskets for interim storage (one per category) and do a bit each day, so within a week at most I’ve sorted all my books and magazines and can start putting them back into the shelves in an organized way. Feels great once I’m done. Can’t wait.

If you want to see a before and after picture of my own bookshelves AND want to get more expert tips, tricks and guidance, I invite you to my private Facebook group or join my tribe on my website

Please reserve the date for my exclusive LIVE Get Papers Done Day on March, 14th, 2017, starting at 10:30 CET / 9:30 GMT.

You need to be a member of my tribe or private Facebook group in order to participate, but it is super easy to sign up and no one will know you’ve joined as it is secret and protected.

I would love to hear from you either way, simply hit the reply button and let me know your thoughts, struggles and ideas. I LOVE to cheer you on and help guiding you along the way to serve you the best way possible.