We have been enjoying our successes with purging on our path to minimalism. In each room we tackled, we have come out with much less stuff, and a feeling of freedom and happiness. Then we got to our home office. I’m going to tell you right now, I am very disappointed with our purge in this area of the house.
The area of friction is our built in shelving. Before we started I envisioned us clearing these shelves of almost everything. I wanted them to be clean, clear, and beautiful. That didn’t exactly happen as planned.
Starting Strong with the Book Collection
We started the office purge with excitement and enthusiasm. I went through my books and removed a big stack. As I was going through books, I found some that I decided to keep. We had a dictionary, a bible, a couple of books on writing and grammar, and a couple of books I haven’t read yet. I had hoped to get rid of all my books in here, but I just wasn’t able to do that.
I did finally part with some of my old favorites that I had been hanging onto in case I wanted to reread them. The only book I have reread has been The Little Prince, and that was only in the past week as I didn’t have any other good fiction handy.
I should note that I had already purged a majority of my book collection. I used to keep every good book I read. After reading a book, I would have such good memories that I felt it hard to part with it. After hanging onto these books for years, and with shelf space disappearing under the mass, I decided to think about the situation objectively.
Books as Trophies
What I came to realize is that I was keeping these books as trophies. The books were prizes of my conquests. I had been on many adventures in the pages of those books, and the book became the trophy by which I could recall those adventures. Looking over my collection I also realized very quickly that I never reread a book. There are so many great books out there that I don’t like to waste my time repeating something when there are new adventures to be had. The realization that these books were trophies that would never be reread allowed me to break my hold on these shelves full of books.
After this realization I took my stack of books to the used bookstore, got cash for what they would take, and donated the rest to Goodwill. All that remained was a small stack of my absolute favorites, some reference books, and some unread books. On purge day, I had to go through those books. I even had a signed copy of a book, but I realized that the importance of that was just getting it signed. I have no use for a book once I’ve read it, even if it is signed by the author.
Now even after all that, I still have a small stack of books.
Speaking of trophies, I had a few and have decided to part with them. I really don’t need a physical reminder of greatness; I already know I’m great. 😉
The Momentum Continues with Stationary and School Papers
Then we moved on to stationary. We did well here. We had three or four boxes of envelopes for the one or two times a year that we actually mail something. Usually it’s a rebate, and those have to be mailed. We reduced that down to half a box, and put those back on the shelf.
We came to a pile of Faith’s artwork and schoolwork. We photographed the ones we wanted to remember and then trashed them. That was quick and easy, although there was some reminiscing as we went through them.
Uh-oh – Photos
Then we hit a stumbling block. We found two boxes of photos, five photo albums, and a big pile of photos that came from my parents and grandparents. There was really nothing that could be done with these; at least not right away. We’re going to try to find a service that will scan in pictures and get our prints migrated to digital form. We also decided to go through the albums to remove and consolidate. I mean how many pictures of our cats do we really need in an album? We only need a few for the memories, the rest are duplication at this point. Then we have the old pictures from my parents and grandparents. One album is in tatters and many of the pictures are loose or in envelopes. We’ll need to scan some of these and maybe put together a small album of others.
The result for now is that all the photos remained on the shelf. There just isn’t a better place for them until we can organize them.
I have a box of CDs and DVDs that contain archives of computer files and digital photos. I also have a big spindle of unused disks. I may be able to weed this out, but most of it needs to be kept, at least for now. So there’s one more item staying on the shelf.
We have a stack of printer paper and a stack of construction paper. We have an art box where Faith keeps all her art supplies. This box resides on a shelf in a hall closet where she can reach it when she’s feeling creative. We cleaned up that box so that we could add the construction paper to it. Whew, at least we got something else off the office shelves. The printer paper had to stay though. I’m planning to move it to my two drawer filing cabinet after I clean out said cabinet. The printer sits on top of it, so it will be a logical place for the extra paper.
We also had some puzzles stacked on the shelf. Faith loves to build puzzles, and we feel it’s a good exercise in thinking and cognitive ability. We managed to get rid of two of the easier puzzles, but she insisted on keeping the rest. I suggested moving them to the play room, but that got vetoed with an explanation that they are in the office so that other kids don’t mix them up or lose pieces during play dates. I’ve seen how some of those kids treat things that don’t belong to them, so this argument was sound, and thus they remained on the shelf.
In all we ended up with two bags of trash and a box of books, so it wasn’t a total loss. I didn’t make as much progress as I had hoped for, but it’s a good start, and we have a plan for some of the items that remained.
Do you have any home office horror stories? I’d love to hear your experiences with decluttering the home office in the comments section below.