At Your Fingertips Organizing

At Your Fingertips Organizing
Downsizing. Productivity. Speaker.

People hire me to help them declutter their stuff. Maybe it’s because they’re too tired, too stressed, too busy, or too overwhelmed. Maybe it’s because they’re not up to the physical, emotional, or mental challenge of doing it alone. But one thing I’ve learned is this-if people have too much stuff, it typically applies to most, if not all, areas of their life. For example, if they’re overloaded with paperwork, they typically have the same problem with housewares, furniture, sentimental items, etc. What else falls into that category? Books!

One of the main reasons for the excess is that people have not made decisions regarding what to do with their stuff. And if we don’t regularly decide what to do with it, the piles just continue to grow. The purpose of this blog is to help people declutter their books by following my tips below.


First and foremost, determine your goal. Why do you want to declutter your books NOW? Are you finally ready? Are you downsizing to a smaller space? Do you:

  • need the space currently occupied by books for something more important?
  • want to limit the books you keep to a particular square footage or perhaps the space available on your particular bookcase?
  • want others to benefit from and enjoy your books?

Be specific. Once you figure out your goal(s), write them down and put them somewhere you see them as a reminder. Put those goals in a place where you can’t miss them, where you will look frequently— -a mirror or the refrigerator drawer or a particular wall you walk by each morning or evening, etc.


As mentioned earlier, if you’re buried in books, perhaps it’s because you never made the conscious decision to downsize them. This is an actual mindset change. I equate it to physical exercise, but it’s mental. You need to change your mindset from “I’m okay with all these books” to “I want to get rid of the books that no longer serve me.” You need to take this critical step—  decide to downsize those books.


When working with clients, I ask them to think about and document their rules before they sort their first item. For example, would you only keep books you loved or plan to read again? Would you purge books you’ve never read or haven’t read in the past year?

Document a list for each of the two categories— keep and purge. Once you begin sorting and making decisions, you’ll come up with other rules. Be sure to add them to your list for future reference.


Assuming you’ll purge some of your books, I suggest securing small-to medium-size cardboard boxes in advance. Label each with the book’s next step (examples below), and place books into their proper boxes. Possible categories include:

  • Donate- to a library, non profit, thrift store, church group, shelter, hospital, schools, community civic associations, Free Little Library
  • Start your own Free Little Library
  • Sell- at a yard sale, consignment shop, used book store, online (Facebook Marketplace,,, etc.)
  • Give away- to a friend or family member (AFTER you’ve asked them if they want it and they said yes)
  • Gift- add it to your gift collection if it’s new (many people buy gifts in advance to have handy.)


Many of my clients become stuck when trying to decide what to do with an item, and they don’t know how to get unstuck. That’s where I come in. I never make the decisions FOR them. I simply ask them questions they never considered to help them get to the right answer. And when I say “right,” I mean the right answer for THEM-the individual. There is no right or wrong when it comes to decluttering. It’s all very personal.

I suggest you pick up each book one by one. Ask yourself these questions to help you decide the future of each book in your possession until you decide whether to get to keep vs. purge:

  • How long have I had it?
  • Have I read it? 
  • If so, would I read it again?
  • If I haven’t read it, why not?
  • Is the information in it outdated?
  • Am I keeping it because it reminds me of a particular person or place?
  • Is it the best possible reminder of that person/place or do I have a better reminder?
  • Would a photo of the book suffice instead of the book?
  • Am I still the same person who wanted/needed this book or have I learned and grown beyond it?
  • If I learned something from the book, have I summarized it somewhere so I don’t need to keep it because I  learned the lesson(s) from it?
  • Will I ever want/need to refer to this book in the future and can’t easily access that information elsewhere? If so, can I borrow it from the library at no cost or obtain a digital version with no footprint at little to no cost?
  • Could someone else benefit from it?  If yes, does that make it easier for me to part with it?
  • Am I giving the book a good life, or would it be better elsewhere where it’s more used and loved? 
  • Last but not least… here’s the one that gets me every time. What would I rather have—the book, or the space?

For those books I decide to keep, why do I want to keep them? Ask yourself where they belong and then put them away in their home.


Once you have the books you no longer want in their appropriate cardboard boxes, take action ASAP. Whether it’s donate, gift, sell, etc., try to get them out of your home immediately before you have a chance to change your mind! 


Once you purge the books you no longer want, create rules that must be followed if and when you want to purchase another book. This is called the One In, One Out rule. That means that if you choose to acquire a book, you must purge one from your collection to make room.

Document the criteria books must meet in order to be acquired. For example, you will begin reading it that week, etc. 


They say that less is more. This applies to several areas of our lives including your reduced book collection. What does it mean?  Having fewer books has many benefits including, but not limited to,

  • the ability to focus on and appreciate the books you use and love
  • you’ve created space on your bookshelf  for your remaining books to live and breathe
  • you’ve given others the gift of knowledge, adventure and/or excitement by purging the books that no longer serve you

My goal was to give you a roadmap of the steps involved to make the downsizing process easier for you. I hope I succeeded.. Please know that these downsizing tips can also be applied to other possessions and areas of your life as well. 

“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”

– P.J. O’Rourke

My goal was to give you a roadmap of the steps involved to make the downsizing process easier for you. I hope I succeeded.. Please know that these downsizing tips can also be applied to other possessions and areas of your life as well.