Decluttering: Books, Desk and Office Supplies

It’s been one week since I showed you the inside of my entryway + bedroom closets, and I’m happy to report I haven’t missed a single one of the items I removed from them. In fact, I actually decided to part with one more item of clothing – a t-shirt I can’t ever remember wearing. Oh, and then I bagged up 41 clothing hangers. (Does anyone need extra hangers? No? Ok, they’ll be donated, too.) With that, the 63 items I claimed to have parted with last week is now up to 105. That’s. Crazy.

As I continue with this massive declutter and purge, I can now safely say that clothing will be one of the easiest categories of items I tackle. Fashion and accessories have always lived at the bottom of my list of interests, so I had no problem throwing item after item into those black garbage bags – especially the ones I tried on and felt awful in. However, I knew things wouldn’t go quite as smoothly when I stepped in front of my bookshelf.

I know I’ve mentioned how much I love buying books a few times before. In fact, two-and-a-half years ago, I wrote an entire post about how I planned to always buy books, so I could have a huge library in my home and be able to share all my favourites with family and friends. I even proclaimed I’d share the hobby of acquiring new hardcovers and paperbacks with my future children. But something I don’t think I’ve ever fully admitted is that I used to be seriously addicted to buying books on Amazon.ca.

Years ago, when I was still in the midst of racking up credit card debt, you could’ve found me on Amazon.ca a couple times each week. I’d look at newly released titles, see what the top sellers were and add 2-3 books to my cart – just enough to barely go over $25, so I could get free shipping. For probably a good 2 years, I would guess I made an order every 2 weeks (which would be 52 orders in total). Using $26 as the sample amount I spent on each order, we could say I spent:

$26 x 52 orders = $1,352 on Amazon.ca

And that’s an extremely low guesstimate. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t closer to $2,000 or more. The problem with placing so many orders, as you can imagine, is I never found/made the time to read all the books I bought. As a result, I now own more books I haven’t read than ones I have. And even though my addiction to buying books isn’t as bad as it once was, I continue to buy 1-2 books each month, despite already owning a stack I haven’t read. I’m consuming for the sake of consuming!

All of this is why I knew my bookshelf would be tough to tackle. At first, I looked at my already-organized shelves and thought, “There aren’t that many books here. I can probably just keep them all.” Then I tapped my right index finger on each one and counted to 95. Ok, maybe that’s a few too many. I had my little library organized into genres, but I decided to take them all off the shelves and reorganize them into three new piles: read, would read again and still to read. If anything went into the read pile, it was to be donated.

In the end, I bagged up 33 books; that’s 35% of my original collection. I think I’m going to bring them all to the Port Moody Public Library this week, to see which ones they’ll take, then either sell the rest to a used bookstore or just donate them. What I’m left with are three bookshelves filled with 62 books – only 8 of which I’ve read. So, while I was sad about the fact that I’m not allowed to buy any new books for the next year, this will actually give me the opportunity to “shop my bookshelf” and finally read what I already own.

caits-bookshelf-awards

*Please note the bottom four books re: why we shop, why women shop, why we all overspend, etc. These books are the first on my to-read list and could make for some really interesting discussions.

Aside from just books, my shelves were filled with a number of other things: namely, magazines and office supplies. For the past two years, I’ve had a subscription to MoneySense Magazine. And, for the past two years, I’ve probably only read half of each issue. It’s not MoneySense’s fault; sometimes their issues were just focused on things that weren’t relevant to me. Anyway, I decided not to toss them yet. Instead, I chose not to renew my subscription and am going to read each of these issues cover-to-cover before I do.

In the rest of the baskets on my shelves, I found only a few small things to get rid of: 1 photo album, 1 small storage box, 2 binders, 3 notebooks and 2 dried up bottles of liquid paper. Oh, I also discovered I’d been hoarding one thing: pens! I put together a pile of 28 pens to toss/donate (gave some to a friend who is a teacher). Altogether, I only got rid of 37 office supply items; this is actually 47% of how many items I originally had, but it doesn’t seem like much compared to what’s in the inventory below.

Finally, not seen here is the amount of paper and cardboard I shredded/recycled throughout this process. To organize my desk area, I knew I had to go through the two drawers of documents I keep. In the baskets on my bookshelves, I was also holding onto the original packaging for a number of small electronics that I really didn’t need anymore. Altogether, I’d say you could’ve filled 3 x 2″ binders with all the paper I removed, and I recycled at least a dozen cardboard boxes of all sizes.

caits-desk-view

Before tackling this area of my home, I wasn’t concerned about how many items I was potentially hoarding – I simply wanted to be aware of what I owned and create an inspiring workspace. (How’d I do?) In total, I only removed 70 items from my apartment. So far, most of them are still in a pile in my dining room, because I’ve had two houseguests for the last week and didn’t want to bore them with the task of dropping bags off at various donation boxes. I’ll do that this week!

Inventory

Here’s what’s left in my home, in the book and office supply category:

At first, it seems like a lot – the office supplies, anyway – but I use each and every one of those items on a regular basis, so they do add value to my life. The only thing I still haven’t made a decision about is whether or not I want to keep my old MacBook Pro. I bought my current one nearly two years ago, but kept the old one “in case this one died”. It’s been sitting in its original box ever since. Any thoughts? What would you do?

*Note: There are also at least 20 already-read books on my Kobo but, since they’re digital, I didn’t count them as items here.

Approved Shopping List

Similar to when I wrote the post re: decluttering my clothes, shoes and bags, I thought I’d go through books and office supplies and discover a few things I might need to purchase in the next year – but that didn’t happen. I have enough books, notebooks, pens, etc. to last me a long, long time. In fact, instead of buying anything in this category, I’d actually like to donate more books to the library throughout the year. As I read through the contents of my bookshelf, I’ll donate anything I don’t feel is a classic; something I may need to reference in the future, or truly see myself diving into again. My guess: I’ll be left with no more than 20. Oh, and the magazines will be out the door and into the recycling, as soon as I finish reading them.

Next: decor, entertainment and other random household objects!

How’s your book/office supply collection looking these days?