After the euphoria of going through all of my clothes, getting rid of so many, and finally knowing where everything was, in my head I thought I would move on to the next Konmari category right away. Just like the Marie Kondo's book says, you have to really dedicate yourself to the process, and do the whole thing all at once. I was and am dedicated. I really want to do this! But reality intruded in the form of a bunch of gigs and weekends away. I didn't get to the next category - books - until about a month later, in late-February.
As with my clothes, I thought that books wouldn't be too hard. They are so solid and finite and mostly in one room in my house, right? Not so. There were books in just about every room on the 1st and 2nd floors of the house. Even gathering them all together, and lugging them up stairs to my sorting area took a lot of time and work. But eventually, they were all there and covered so much of the available space in the room, that it was hard to find a spot for me to first divide them into "stay" and "go" piles, and then to sort them by category for re-shelving.
Books are the second category in Marie Kondo's tidying scheme because, in theory, they are relatively easy to sort and part with. And while it's true that many books are available electronically, 1) books are wonderful, and not easy to part with, and, 2) art books, and any non-fiction books with pictures are just not the same in electronic format. Guess what I have a lot of? In fact - true confessions time - there was one whole category of books I didn't bother to move off of their shelves and into my sorting area because I knew that none of them were going - my tea books.
This photo shows only half of my collection, and doesn't include the additions that were in the big pile in the other room because they hadn't made it to the tea shelves yet.
But over a couple of days, I just attacked one pile of books at a time, and filled at least 10 bags to give away. And then over a few more days, I sorted all that was left by category and re-shelved everything, discovering that I really did have more room on my shelves than before.
Here are some of my take-aways:
- It ain't over 'til it's over. Kondo says in her book that once you're done with clothes and move on to the other categories, you can't really be finished with the organization process until you do all of the other things. I now get it. I had other things on my bookshelves like video tapes, candles, etc. When I was re-shelving the books and thinking about the space I had available, I hadn't dealt with those other non-book items yet, and so knew that I might have to move the books again once more space became available. My next post will talk about that a little more.
- For me, the definition of "doing everything all at once" is going to end up being one category a month. I hate the feeling of drawing out this process indefinitely and really want to live in a saner environment right now, but my life is so busy with many weeknights and weekends taken up by travel or other activities I'm not willing to give up. So my reality is that this process is going to take at least the rest of the year. I hate even writing that down, but welcome to my life.
- Giving things away is hard! Once I decided to let a book go, it wasn't actually hard to part with it. What was difficult was figuring out how to dispose of them. I knew I could take the books to Goodwill, which has a very convenient drop-off near my house, but I thought to give them to the Free Library Book Corner, which could re-sell them and make some money for the Free Library, of which I'm a big fan. Unfortunately, for what I'm sure they think are good reasons, they make it really hard to donate books to them (and had a rude, impatient person answering the phone, which was decidedly off-putting), so that was out. Then I found an organization which has book donation boxes scattered throughout the area, but when I loaded all of the bags of books into the car and found the local box, it was stuffed so full, I couldn't add a thing to it. Luckily, there was a Green Drop truck in the same location that was happy to take my books.
- Going through each category will have an emotional component to it. It's always work to stay away from the the feelings of guilt/regret/self-recrimination for amassing so much of whatever it is, but that's not helpful, and I'm dealing with it right now, so no wallowing allowed. But the other piece is that if you're a person who likes things, the way I do, facing that crazy pile is a bit overwhelming, and letting go of objects is hard, even if you're committed to the process and know why you're doing it, how to do it, etc. It's just a lot. It's worth it, but I have to remember that each time I work on this project will take both physical and emotional energy.