Got books, magazines, and catalogs? If you love to read, like I do, chances are you have a sizable collection of books in your home and/or office. Reading is a fulfilling and enjoyable pastime; it is valuable downtime. Reading is also educational and overall self-enhancing. I’m of the mindset that you can’t do too much reading! You can, however, end up with too much stuff if you don’t manage your accumulating collection of reading materials. So today I’m covering tips and tricks for organizing books and other literature.

Physical Books

Like everything in the home and the office, your books need a designated spot for storage. If you store all your reading materials in one place, you’ll know where to look when you’re trying to locate a book or article. So, the first order of business is to decide where you want to store your magazines, articles, and books. If you have a large collection, consider purchasing a bookshelf, or investing in some built-in shelving.

Cull the Books You Don’t Plan to Revisit

Some books are simply a one-and-done event. If you’ve finished something that you know you won’t read or reference again, it shouldn’t be taking up space in your home or office. Considering giving the book to a friend you believe would enjoy it, or donate it, perhaps to the local library, hospital, or school. If the literature is truly outdated, simply discard it.

Put Order Around What You Want to Keep

For the books you plan to hold on to, establish a system of categorization that fits your collection. Often, arranging by subject matter makes the most sense. For example, you might have a section for fiction, which you then further categorize by type, title, and author, or simply by title and author. Then, set up sections for your nonfiction subject matter. Everyone’s sections will be unique to their interests. By way of example, here’s one scenario of nonfiction topics:

  • Running a business
  • Self-help
  • Religious
  • Gardening
  • Home Decorating

Within these sections, if your collection is robust, you might decide to subcategorize. For example, in your business section, the subgroups could be marketing, website development, social media, branding, etc.

Consider Aesthetics When Organizing Books

If you’re working with open, viewable shelf space, your collection of books will be on display. Books make colorful, interesting home decor when they are properly ordered and arranged. To avoid a cluttered look, put books of the same size together, within the various sections. If the space is available, you might try putting some books horizontally, within a vertical run, to add further interest. Vases, picture frames and the like can be used to fill in open space. If you’re keeping magazines, financial newsletters, or brochures, invest in some magazine holders for incremental structure. These reading materials should also have rules or parameters regarding how long you keep them. For example, shop catalogs should be thrown out if you are not going to buy anything within the next 10 days.

Have You Tried Digital?

The literary world is keeping up with the times. Most printed books are also available on digital platforms like Kindle and Google Play. Many are also available on audio platforms like Audible and Audiobooks. Digital and audiobooks don’t take up valuable real estate in your home. You can bookmark and highlight these books, just like you do with their printed counterparts. Modern audiobooks feature talented readers who often bring incremental character to the story. Audiobooks are also multitasker-friendly. You can “read” and fold laundry, drive, clean, or do dinner prep! That’s truly maximizing your time. 🙂

The Library is Still an Excellent Resource

The library is keeping up with the modern world, too. Borrowing and returning eliminates the need for permanent storage in your home or office. In addition to the original physical book check-out solution, many libraries now maintain a wide selection of digital and audiobooks. You don’t have to drive to the library to take advantage of these resources. You might have to wait for a few days or weeks if the book is popular or in limited supply, but you can get on a waitlist and will be notified when your selection is available. Returning is simple, you just click “finished” and it goes back to the library.

Happy Reading

Don’t let your treasured books become clutter. Organize your reading resources so you can find what you have. Where it makes sense, try out a digital option or two. And don’t forget about your local library. Here’s to hoping you can get lost in a book sometime soon!

Sara Genrich is a Productivity Consultant, an Evernote Certified Consultant, and the creator of the Organizing@Work for Success Workshop.  She’s committed to providing real-life solutions so her clients have time to focus on the things that really matter.

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