I recently started working with a new coach Laura Kowalski, who’s helping me increase my productivity as well as prepare for a move this summer. Moving is big ordeal for me because I have somewhere in the neighborhood of two thousand books, hundreds of CD’s and for good measure, a few hundred DVDs.
My books along with various marketing courses and audio books are stored on ten big 9 foot bookshelves in my home office. Many are titles I’ve never even read but that I’ve picked up at suggestion of of others as someday/maybe titles. Some are either review copies or books kept around for reference purposes. Besides the daunting task of moving all these books, Laura pointed out that these books were likely hurting my day-to-day productivity.
Laura helped me sort through everything and because I tend to save rather than discard I entrusted her to pare down piles of books on a variety of topics. The discard pile ended up filling my entire dining room. So I decided to invite several friends over and encouraged them to take as many books as they liked. Everyone left with a big grocery bag or two filled with books. It was a lot of fun for everyone involved and I donated anything left over.
The end result is that not only did I get rid of hundreds of books but my office feels incredibly lighter. The shelves have room to breathe and I now understand the psychological effect of having all these extra books around. The unread books are like items on a to-do list that weigh you down.
Five Steps to De-cluttering Your Home Office
Here are some of Laura’s tips on getting rid of the clutter in your home office:
- Do One Room At a Time: This can be a surprisingly tiring & emotional process so don’t plan on doing more than a few hours at a time.
- Keep Only What Lifts You – No Exceptions: Don’t keep things just because they were expensive or gifts or family heirlooms if they do not also make you feel good. Obligation weighs you down. Donate, donate, donate and lighten your load.
- Keep It Current: That book that was perfect for you in college, is it right NOW? Unless something adds value to who you are and who you are becoming, it goes. Period.
- Move It Out Immediately: Once you’ve sorted things into piles (like Donate, Give to Friends & Trash), don’t let them sit around the house or the garage. Drop them with friends or a donation books immediately. If you have a lot to donate, many organizations like The Salvation Army will come by for a pick-up if you call them a few days ahead of time. Give as much as possible away rather than saving the items for a garage sale.
- Don’t Do It Alone: This isn’t a solo project. No matter how determined you are, a second opinion to err on the side of ‘give it away’ and give you reality checks is essential, especially in rooms that are filled with personal items. Ask a friend who truly LOVES organizing to spend a few hours with you to make this easier. Or hire a certified professional organizer and be specific about what their role will be. Meet with the pro beforehand to make sure you’re on the same page and that you get along with them.
After working with Laura, my office just feels so much better. And regarding giving books and similar items away, I had several books and courses that I was holding on to because I knew I could sell them on eBay or Amazon but never seemed to find the time to do so. In the end, giving them away felt better and got them out of my way. And it was fun to see delighted friends carting off all those items that were no longer serving me.
Try these steps yourself and see what happens. You might discover that lightening your load leads to better productivity, sleep and peace of mind like I did.