Uncluttered Living, Part 2

Category: Daily Diary

(Part 1 if you haven't read it yet.)

...but there were the things that I have not been able to let go of yet:

  1. Books.  Books are among my most prized possessions.  I cannot seem to get enough of them.  And I do re-read them.  Refer back to them often.  Lend them.  Enjoy having them.
  2. Photos.  I cannot get rid of photos...I love them.  I love the memories attached to them.  They mean so much to me that, even when they aren't mine, I go to great lengths to save them.
  3. Tools and hardware.  Because I always imagine I will need them.  And I am a tool geek.
  4. Music.  CD's.  Records.  I finally gave up on my casette tapes this past year and the 8-tracks went awhile ago.


I haven't completely figured out how to sort through these categories yet.  The tools and hardware will stay put for now...at least until the HouseInProgress is a finished house.  Photos aren't going anywhere either.  Though at some point I should develop a better system for sorting and storing them.  (I pine for these photo boxes from the Paper Source, but might have to make my own someday.)

But the books?  And music?  Which stay?  Which go?


The house came with over 1500 books and we've given away/donated hundreds of them.  Including boxes and boxes of them that went to the Congo for a library there.  But there are still books left from the house as well as our own substantial book collection. 


I need a system for determining which to keep and which to give away.  When I do figure out which ones will be leaving, I'm tempted to participate in the catch and release program at BookCrossing.  There are plenty of Chicago participants!

Same with deciding which music goes and which stays.  Incredibly difficult choices.  Especially the CD's.  And I'm no George Hart, so I'll have to do something a little more practical.

Any ideas would be welcome...

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Arghhhhhhhhhhhh. Books. I can't let go of any of them. When we moved 4 yrs ago, we did it in two trips and I left the books boxed up in the garage 800 miles away and lived without them for 6 whole long months. Then there are the few (very few) times I thought about being sane........and my husband caught me trying to throw out the 19twentysomething edition of the Boy Scout hand book complete with my dad's signatures ect........At this point, I have 3 full bookcases on the sunporch, 4 in the entry way. 3 in the library, and 3 in the dining room, 1 in the kitchen, and boxes waiting for the magical moment I buy more bookcases to probably cram into the upstairs hallway...........

Those Kolo photo boxes you're pining for are 25% off at Archiver's. Call around and see if there are any left. Kolo makes a very nice product.

I feel your pain about the books. I have a really hard time getting rid of books; we hoard them, actually. I think we have a collection of around 3,000-4,000 by now; I've stopped counting.

The CDs--Dr. Tully Monster's idea is to rip all of ours to a very large hard drive in an old laptop we don't use anymore, make it a music server that we can call up from anywhere in the house (using wireless and our laptops) and stream the output through a good set of speakers. I'm still skeptical of this, though. We have large, flat mission-style wood-and-glass cabinets for them and the movies.

Or, alternatively, how about a couple of large CD storage binders (I think you can get them up to 200 CD capacity?) They could sit on a shelf, and you just leaf through them...it would mean getting rid of the jewel boxes, though, and maybe the inserts.

It's totally reasonable to save photos, but it's really important that you mark them with the names of people pictured, date and location, maybe even a little note. Otherwise they will be meaningless to later generations.

Hi Jeannie,
Here's a simple one about music, but it might take a little while. Buy an external harddrive and put all your tunes on it - them sell the cd's to a used music store. Voila - acres of space on your bookshelves and no tunes lost. Just make sure you have a way of backing it up - like getting an ipod or something similar.
Good luck!

I second Tully Monster's idea about the cd's - physical cd storage is sooooo last year. Get yourself a removable hardrive (they're cheap nowadays), hook it up, and copy like crazy. Make some backups on DVD or CD, and you're set for life.

Though this would take some time, it'd cut down on storage immensely. I ditched my jewel cases a few years ago in a big moving purge, and have NEVER missed them. Not once, even though I am a designer and love love love the prettiness of the little booklets.

I don't ditch photos either, but I did go through one day and sort out all the doubles. I put them in a box in my craft room for scrapbooking type crafts, and also gave a bunch away to people who are actually in the photos - which they loved.

The books...... I've found no solution for this either. I'm a book lover and have stacks of them. Every time I move, I whittle down my collection. I think wall-to-wall bookshelves are the only solution to that one ;)

Regarding the CDs, we're very much going the hard drive route. We just haven't been disciplined enough to copy them all so we can put all the physical discs in storage.

I'll actually have to do a post on our whole house audio plans some time soon...Jeannie has actually been pretty patient with my master plan. ;-)

- Aaron

The "digitization" recommended by the other posters goes a long way towards uncluttering. The music is so much more accessible this way, and you don't have to worry about scratches, or other losses, once you've got a digital archive.

As for books, we've taken digitization to the shelves. Books that we use frequently, especially reference texts, are taken to Kinko's to have their spines removed (it costs about a buck and a half to do this, but the cut is cleaner than trying to do this yourself).

Then we run the books through a high speed scanner and archive them as a PDF. This technique has made it possible to ditch yucky/old/delicate, but useful, books from the shelves. Computer texts, cook books, teaching references, etc. all go into the scanner.

We find that printing only the pages you need now and then is far superior to housing/storage. For example, if you need to repair your car's heater fan, you print only the pages you need for that repair and throw them out/recycle when the job is done. You no longer have to worry about finding the text you need or soiling it with greasy hands while you are on the job. I imagine you would find this useful for home repair too.

If you can tolerate reading on a screen all the better. Your favorite novels can be run through the scanner too. If you can't stomach this technique for novels, at least consider it for informational texts. It's a huge step toward uncluttering. This dramatically shrunk our library and uncluttered the office.

Good luck,

I just went through this same uncluttering. Books were my problem area too -- all my life I've loved having them and just being around them. But I decided that I just couldn't manage the amount that I had accumulated. You'll feel a lot better if you set a reasonable amoung to get rid of and stick to it. Say 8 to 10 percent of your books. I just forced myself to use a process of elimination and weed out my books. Once I had separated the books to go, I made a list of them and brought it to work (just last week actually!) and sent an email out saying I had free books for the taking. People signed up to receive the books they wanted and I brought them in. The rest went to Goodwill. I feel good freeing up the space and knowing that a lot of my books went to people I know. Just give it a shot, start with a small amount. You can do it! I never thought I could or would, but I did :)

If that White House cook book is for sale, I'll take it off your hands!

We did a big purge when we first bought the orange house and we've tried to maintain that level, since the house isn't getting any larger (we're even about to take a closet out). We digitized a lot of CDs but saved ones that (1) we can detect the loss of sound quality or (2) they would be impossible to replace because they're so rare. It looks like you have nice storage boxes for them already.

Books and CD's and DVD's are great, as long as you have appropriate storage. One idea is to have a limited amount of storage designated for, say, books. For every new book you acquire, you must get rid of a book already on your shelf.

I love the idea of ripping CD's onto a hard drive. But I'm not sold yet, because just as I get rid of that last jewel case, my hard drive will undoubtedly crash and then I will have NO music.

As time passes, it gets difficult to remember why you kept something so long. So unless you can remember exactly WHY you love a certain book, CD or other such thing, remember, it's ultimately just a thing. Get rid of it.

Definitely agree with the comments about digitizing. I have over a thousand CDs that I have been ripping to disk for about six months. I've been doing it losslessly, which consumes far more disk space, but when I'm all done I'll have all my CDs in digital form in full quality on less than 500 GB of hard disk. Progress on my blog if you're curious about some of the findings along the way.


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