Yes, the cat in the photograph is the same one pictured above in the calendar. He was lounging in that spot all day as I assessed, purged and organized my books and magazines, so I thought I'd include him here. Dealing with all of the boring stuff during the past two weeks of Living with Less really paid off! Our home office (and my magazines and books) have never been so organized since we moved in a year ago.
Project Recap: During Living with Less, Week 2: Clothes and Coat Closets, I pared-down my clothing from three bedroom closets to just the one in our master bedroom. And in Living with Less, Week 3: Linen Closet, I realized with a little order and organization, I could conveniently store a set of cleaning supplies on the second floor, right where I needed them most. In Living with Less, Week 4: Incoming Mail and Electronic Files, I realized as I began tackling our home office, I couldn't determine which magazines and books were essential or organize files until the junk mail stopped proliferating and our digital file structure was updated. So, I renamed the week to: Establishing Order to Live with Less. During Living with Less, Week 5: Home Office and Files, I realized I may never completely finish our filing system, but that's okay because the needs of a home office will change over time as our life evolves. So, I commit to fine tuning the system and flexibility.
Lessons Learned: Living with Less, Week 6
- Assess: To begin, think about the following questions: How do you use your books? Magazines? Where should they be stored? Do you live in a multi-storey house where you constantly carry items up and down stairs? Or do you live in a studio where everything is in sight? Do you reference your old magazines?
- In Sight: I don't believe books should be boxed-up and stored in the attic. You want them where you can see them, where you can pull them for quick reference or just remember they exist. Otherwise, what's the point? There's no guarantee that your kids will want your books, right? Maybe I'm being too harsh. This is, of course, a personal decision, but this is just my point of view.
- Be Ruthless: In a way books are more personal than clothing and you might find it difficult to box them up for donation. Really think about it: will you reference the book? Have you read it? If so, will you read it again? If not, do you have any interest in ever picking it up? You can always donate your books to your public library, where you can visit them.
- Categorize: I spent a good deal of time thinking about how to organize my books and magazines and I decided to do so by topic. Not only did I separate my books by topic but I also separated my magazines, as well. For example, architecture books and magazines exist together while those addressing interior design and decorating are separate. It makes sense to me, especially for how I reference them during my home projects and for Re-Nest. How do you use your books? If you still haven't answered this question, begin at the top of Lessons Learned. If you're still confused, take Martha Stewart's advice from Homekeeping Handbook: "Think about your reading patterns and tastes when arranging your library. Usually, it is best to organize by subject or category, and then either chronologically or alphabetically by author within the subject. If you have many oversized art or coffee table books, you may choose to organize by topic then by height for neat appearance."
- Make It Pretty: You've just spent a great deal of time over the past three weeks making your home office a place that functions for your needs. Now make it a place where you will want to spend time. Paint the area a new color or hang artwork you rethought during Rethinking Your Space: How To Declutter and Edit a Room. To spruce-up our space, I framed a letter press calendar in an extra frame, backed it with burlap, and placed it on the window seat. Don't rush to complete your home improvement project, but keep it in mind. Think about how you would like the space to feel and then make it happen when you're ready!
Questions? Comments? Are you following along or thinking about doing so? Let us know!
(Images: Landis Carey)