So each week last month, as promised, I have been picking one thing to change about my life. I am chronicling this journey and when I am done I will put it all into a book free to the first hundred people to sign up on my email list. (shameless plug alert)
Last month my focus was time. Every change I decided to make had to do with how I spent my time. This month in light of the change to spring, I will be focusing on possessions.
Spring cleaning time.
I have been reading a lot from the The Minimalists, they are such an inspiration to me. And though I am sure my minimized life will look very different from theirs, the basic principles are the same. Get rid of the shit in your life.
The “shit” as I am fondly calling it is anything you define as a distraction from what really matters in your life. For me, this sums up about half of my personal possessions if not more. So in an effort to pare down and reduce clutter in my life, this month each decision/change I make per week will be focused on getting rid of the shit.
This week the decision I’m going to make is to read more. How do I define “more”? Well you know how I feel about goals, they are just an opportunity for failure. So rather than setting a goal of how much “more” I will read I am setting an expiration date for each books in my collection. I have a wide variety of books I have been meaning to read for many years, and never finished, and in some cases never started. This is after already cutting my collection in half.
How often do you do this? How often do you hold onto things that you have the best of intentions for and end up never using? I do it a lot. I am a criminal procrastinator and books are my most frequently targeted victims.
No more procrastination!
Today, when I decided to go through my entire book collection I started by making two boxes. One box for donate and another box for sell. When sifting through my books I looked for the ones that I had previously read. I am not much of a re-reader, I have a fairly decent memory, so aside from a very limited selection of reference books in my library. If I have read it already, I am not likely to ever pick it up again. So why keep it? (This question is likely to become my mantra this month.) Every time I picked up a book I had already read and asked myself this question I had no answer.
Next I started looking a the slew of books I have owned for a long time but never read. If it had no use to me anymore, or if I had no desire to read it then into the box it went. Then I started coming across books that I did actually want to read. This is where, “So why keep it?” got tough. The answer, of course, for all these books was, “Because I intend to read it.” So I had to ask myself another question. “But, truthfully, will I ever read it?” If the answer was no, it had to go in a box. If the answer was yes I set it aside, if the answer was maybe, it had to go in a box. (This was the hardest part because there were books that honestly I do want to read but truthfully I’m not sure I ever will and that saddens me.)
So there I was with a stack of books to which I said, “YES! I will read you.” I immediately got anxiety looking at that pile of books, it was so overwhelming. I was overcome with the feeling that I’d be holding onto those books for yet another year (maybe two) of “good intentions.” I had to find a way to keep paring down this book collection, but truthfully I just didn’t want to get rid of books I really do want to read. That’s how I finally came up with…
Operation Read and Cede. #readandcede
I knew the most logical way to get rid of more books was to transition them from the unread category into the read category. My anxiety came back. But I finally figured out a way to motivate myself to read all these books, and make it driven by fun rather than pressure.
So, here’s how it works. I am going to give each book an expiration date. And by the end of the expiration date I am going to give it to someone else who wants it. Every month I’m going to post a picture of books that expire that month, and if you want it just send me a message saying what book you want. I have always been more motivated by deadlines than goals. And I have always loved giving stuff away, so giving away the book will be fun for me and hopefully result in my reading much more than I currently do.
Any books in my collection that I have not read by the end of its expiration date, I will simply give away and read at another time, that’s what my library card is for.
Anyhow, this month’s selection is up so please tell me if you want any of these books when I’m done, it’s yours!
(P.S. Please! Don’t judge my taste in literature by these books. Many of them were gifts and thrift store finds that sounded interesting at the time–not my usual go-tos.)