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OMG, the *books*. Piles of nonfiction, stacks of mysteries and romances, dusty autobiographies and Norton Anthologies (Norton Anthologies? really?!)…. I’ve carried books with me since I was in college — in the last century.

But as I found out during my home office reorg, in my gypsy lifestyle, books were important. The people behind them, the writers and the characters, were extended family. The Nortons represented happy college days in the library. Even though I didn’t have a house, they were my physical roots.

During my first coaching with Julie Morgenstern, author of SHED Your Stuff Change Your Life: A Four-Step Guide to Getting Unstuck, I marked the books as being the things to which I had the highest emotional attachment. In this organizing process, you first get rid of the things that are 100% obsolete, to which you have no attachment, building momentum to the obsolete items you’re most attached to. (As a quick reminder: SHED = Separate the Treasures, Heave the Trash, Embrace Your Identity and Drive Yourself Forward.)

My cookbooks, arranged on a built-in bookshelf

Dude! I can find my cookbooks!

I was so attached to them that, in our first session, we didn’t even set a schedule for them. My notes are “Books — get a context from the first round of shedding and then set a date.

What happened though, was that as I gained momentum by releasing the first round of items, it felt very natural to start clearing books. I had a gap between the first round and the second, where I hit my panic phase, but gradually, as I started to embrace my identity without my stuff , the books seemed less important.

I started on a Friday night, with good music on the stereo, a glass of wine, a bunch of boxes, a stack of sticky notes and a pen. Then, over the next few days, as I had time, I’d go sort books. I had to get more boxes because, as I asked each book, “Do you make me feel energized?” the giveaway stack grew.

One of my goals was to give books to family and friends — part of my goal to nurture relationships — so I put people’s names on the notes and stuck them to books. That pile was surprisingly small.

My bookshelves, after organizing

Every book on those shelves makes me happy.

The local used bookstore has several options for book buyback. One is a large order — if your books fill one of those hotel laundry carts (the canvas kind on wheels), then boom…you’ve got a “large order.” I filled *two*.

I estimate I got rid of 250 books. Enough to empty one, entire bookshelf.

I didn’t spend a lot of time styling these because I’m moving in a month into my new house. But…wow! What a difference.

Check out this home office makeover

A clean, quiet, inspiring place to work

Julie’s challenge to me was to have only the things in my office that fuel my theme “Root to Flower,” and energize me. Looking at these pictures — with the good things from my marriage (the yellow chinoiserie urns were a gift from my former MIL) and childhood (lunch box, skateboard) — reminds me of my roots. The empty bookshelf is the room to flower.

Come back next week for the last post in this series, when I’ll tell you how Julie worked with me on Step 4, Drive Yourself Forward.

6 Responses

  1. Hannah B. says:

    You are so inspiring! I have a goal this summer of going through our books, which I cleaned out quite a bit last summer, and organizing them into a library. Husband found me an antique card catalog, and I'm just dying to use it!

  2. Katy Hendricks says:

    Book organization is sooo much fun, but I couldn't imagine getting rid of any of mine. Keep in mind that your local library might be interested in any gently used books!

    Also, I am quite interested in seeing you ride that skateboard.

  3. Miss Dynamite says:

    Books were the hardest items to cull when I had to move countries. I had collections, series, thigns I loved to read over and over again. It was really difficult. I kept those to which I had the most emotional attachment, and have been happy building up my collections again in my new country.

  4. Becky says:

    I understand this process without knowing the name. I went through mine not too long ago and did a purge. I had many of my books the hubby's magazines and books from an old rommie as well. When I first married and had to pare down the first time, I realized that doing a periodic purge of books isn't all that scary. I'm not going to read those LK Hamilton books agin, but my gorgeous blue leatherbound copy of Jane Eyre still makes me all squidgy inside.

    Plus living in a small house with a soon to be crawling boy, the nicer and neater my shelves and life are… the more mental fortification I have to tackle my little bean.

  5. Barb in AK says:

    I would have LOVED to have seen before and then the after pics. :-)

  6. The house can quickly become a throwing place for trash, authorization moves, unread publications and other mess if you aren't cautious. To keep this area clean and create using it effective, you need some cautious company techniques. Every workplace is different, so the best solution will include assessing yourself and the responsibilities you need to achieve in this area. To make sure your time and effort have a long-lasting impact, take 10 minutes at the end of every day to clean up and create sure everything is back in its specific area.

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