One of our local libraries recently asked for donations for their upcoming used book sale. The revenues from this sale help to supplement their funding over the year and they also go through the donations to see if there are any books in good condition they wish to add to their collection. I love this time of year because it gives me an excuse to go through my bookshelves to see if there are any titles I’m ready to give away for the sale.
In the article, “Keeping book clutter off the bookshelf,” I outlined the standards I use to decide which books to keep and which ones to donate, recycle, or toss. Now that I’m a regular Kindle user, I added a fourth standard to my Donate, Recycle, or Toss list that includes getting rid of books easily accessible in the public domain. If I can find it for free online and easily download it to my e-reader, I donated the book to my library for their used book sale. I use Google Books and my library’s digital checkout system Overdrive (a very large number of public libraries in the US use this service, so check it out to see if yours is included) as my online resources.
Inevitably, as was again the case this year, a week or two after the donation period for the sale I’ll look at my bookshelves and spot even more books I could have donated. It’s as if the first pass was a practice run and helped me to build up courage to be even more thorough with my uncluttering efforts. Instead of letting the books linger on the shelf until the next year, I grab a box and complete the second pass.
The second pass has become a vital step in my uncluttering process, whether I’m getting rid of clutter off my bookshelves or in my kitchen pantry or in the linen closet or my wardrobe. I’ll always find at least one more thing to donate, recycle, or toss, but usually I find enough items to justify a second trip to a local charity. In the case of books, another nearby library has a used book sale a couple months later, so I simply make a drive to the other library to donate the second pass books there.
When completing a second pass, I don’t usually need to go back to reference the standards I used on the first pass. The only question I ask myself during the second pass is, “Do I really want this?” If I have finally admitted to myself I’m never going to finish reading a book on my bookshelf, the second pass is when I’ll pass it along to someone who will read it. If a shirt is a pain to care for, and I don’t get enough enjoyment out of wearing the piece of clothing as I should for the amount of energy I have to invest in it, the second pass is when it’s most likely to get added to the donation pile. Being brutally honest with myself is all the second pass typically requires.
The second pass is also a good time to evaluate the organizing work you did after the uncluttering process. Is everything in its best place? Does everything still have room for storage? Are the items you’re accessing most frequently in the most convenient to reach locations? Are items you’re not accessing very often in the less convenient to reach locations? Is there anything you need to do to improve your initial organizing efforts?
Do you do a second pass on your uncluttering efforts to make sure that you didn’t accidentally leave clutter in your collections? If you haven’t been doing a second pass of the areas of your home and office you’ve uncluttered, I recommend you schedule it on your calendar for a few days or weeks after your first pass in your uncluttering process. My guess is you’ll find one or more items you’re now ready to purge from your bookshelves, or whatever area you’ve recently uncluttered.