Declutter to Empower Challenge Week 1: Books

About the Declutter to Empower Challenge:

This month, I’m kicking off a series that connects my two loves:  self-development and decluttering, and I’m calling it the Declutter to Empower Challenge! All you have to do to participate is follow along each week, do the steps, and share your reflections with our community.

Now, you might be wondering what self-development and decluttering have in common. Here’s my theory in a nutshell:  when we get clear about what we want in our homes, it leads us to get clear about what we want in our lives.

I’ve seen this happen over and over with clients, and I can’t wait to see what it does for you, too! Each week, I’ll lead you through a decluttering project focused on one of the following areas in your life: home, time, spending, or digital life.

If you’d like to sign up for this, you can do so here:

Sign me up for the challenge!

And, now for the first assignment. Let’s go!

 Week 1 Assignment: Declutter Your Books

 Action Items:

  • Go through every room where you keep books, and take out the ones you know you will never read.
  • Don’t overthink it! These books will stare at you and you’ll get a little guilty flutter in your gut. That’s when you know you need to let them go.
  • Relish the feeling of getting rid of them once and for all. Know that books are meant to be read, and by letting them go you are giving them the life they were meant to have.
  • Put them in a box and take them to your local used bookstore where you can get some cash to use for books you actually will read.

Why declutter your books? You’ll read more!

One of New Year’s resolutions I hear most often is “I want to read more this year.” The best way to do that is to get rid of all those books you will never read so you can start reading all the books you really WANT to read.

Why it’s hard to part with books:

Does this first assignment feel like a sucker punch to the stomach? Hear me out. If you’re like me, you LOVE books. Books make you feel good. They make you feel smart, accomplished, and they contain memories of trips, relationships, and basically all your hopes and dreams. You also like the way they look in your home, and they make it feel cozy and established. But the dark side of books is this: they also remind many of us of something else. FAILURE.

Absolutely all of us have books we have purchased, been gifted, or borrowed but haven’t read. And these books stare at us when we walk through the room. They end up stacked behind other books, overflowing our current shelves, they pile up on the nightstand.

Seeing these books can make us feel like we’ve wasted money and time. They can make us feel like we’ve let down friends and family who have gifted them to us, and they can make us doubt ourselves. Worst of all, they keep us from reading!

The stories that hold us back:

Often the story we tell ourselves is: why pick up a new book when there’s so many books we already own that we haven’t even read?

Maybe you even tell yourself that if you were just better, smarter, and more accomplished, you would have read these books. Worse yet, maybe it’s making you feel like you can’t do other things, either.

Decluttering your books will put the kibosh on all of that self-doubt.

Let go of “should” to embrace “want”:

The first step in decluttering our books is we need to let go of the books we feel like we should read, so that we can discover the books we want to read.This is hard; I know. As an English major and graduate student, I had to force myself to read A LOT of books. One summer alone I had to read a little over 40 books for a huge, comprehensive examination in the fall that would determine whether or not I could earn my Master’s Degree. To my complete horror at the time, some of these books were over 800 pages long! I still keep them on a shelf in my office to remind me that I’m capable of reading a book every few days. That is motivating.

What wasn’t so motivating, is that out of that experience grew the feeling that I SHOULD faithfully finish reading everything even if I didn’t like it. If I did stop reading a book, I would keep it and tell myself that I would read it, someday. If you have that same feeling about books, I want you to let it go right now. I want you to read only books you LOVE, because that is what will lead you to read voraciously.

Share your thoughts and reflections on this assignment!

We’d love to hear your reflections on this process and see pictures if you have them! Post them in the comments, send them to me, or tag @organizedbyheart in your photos on Instagram or Facebook!

Happy Decluttering!

Lauren