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Books and magazines are wonderful. They bring us into an imaginary world where we can get lost for hours. We learn new skills and how things are made. They share information with us. And while all that information can be extremely helpful, if we don’t keep on top of the all these reading materials we can literally find ourselves buried under a sea of knowledge.

Keeping and justifying why we need all this reading material is easy. We want to refer back to it, don’t have time to read it, and then feel guilty because we haven’t finished reading it.

When it comes to figuring out how to organize books and magazines, there are so many reasons for keeping our reading material that it often becomes difficult to figure out what to keep, what to toss and where it should go once we’re ready to purge. Often a mere glance at the growing pile of reading materials is enough to prevent us from starting on what looks like a daunting and time consuming project.

The good news is that you have three choices once you’ve reached the point where you want to create more space in your home or office. The even better news is you don’t have to do it alone.

Choice 1: Have someone come in and take every book, magazine and catalog out for good.  

Plus side: You no longer have clutter!

Down side: You have no control over what you keep, and most of us who love to read would be devastated at the thought of living without books.

Choice 2: You set aside between one to three hours once or twice a week and sort through it.

You can ask for help from a relative, a friend or hire a professional organizer to keep you motivated and on task. Trying to do it all at once may be overwhelming so it’s easier if you do it a little at a time. There are bookstores that buy used books, online sites where you can sell used books, and online charities that will send you free shipping labels to ship your used books to them.

There are local charities and libraries that will accept books, and some charities will even pick them up. Recycle your magazines, cancel subscriptions you no longer read, and remove yourself from as many catalogue lists as possible. Call before you drop off anything to learn which charities accept which items and in what condition. Continue to schedule time to sort, purge and organize until you’ve gone through everything and you’re only keeping what you need, like and have space for. Maintain for life.

Plus Side: You will be in control of your stuff and not the other way around, you’ll know what you have and you also may make a few bucks.

Down Side: You have to take ownership of your stuff, it will take time and motivating yourself to keep going may be difficult to do.

3. Do nothing and make no change in your life.  

Plus side: Nothing changes

Down side: Nothing changes

You choose what you bring into your home, and now you must choose what to take out of your home. How you live is a reflection of who you are and how you feel about yourself. Putting on music or the TV can make sorting more enjoyable. Think of clearing out clutter like a diet, where it all depends upon the starting point, with some of us only wanting to lose 5 pounds of weight while others have much more weight to drop. The more you want to purge, the greater amount of time it will take. The great news is that unlike dieting, you see instant results each time you purge!

Alison Kero started organizing in 2004 when she owned her first company, Gotham Concierge. At the end of 2012, Alison started ACK! Organizing, which she thought described the feeling most of her clients felt when faced with the amounts of clutter they had accumulated and are also her initials. Alison’s approach is to work directly with the client to teach them the tools to get and stay organized based on who they are. She believes the client needs to work directly with the items they’ve collected so they can let go of the past and move toward a freer, more organized future. 

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