Learning without Cluttering

This post also appears today on my new blog Productivity @ Home

I was walking on the treadmill recently in my garage and watching a morning news program featuring an organizing guru who was offering advice and extolling the virtues of her latest book. I paused my workout and scurried to my office (which is immediately adjacent to the garage), cruised over Amazon.com and had my hand over the dangerous "Buy Now with 1 Click" button when I came to a stunning conclusion. "Stop the insanity!"

You see, as a freelance book reviewer, a good 60% of the clutter in my life, both physical and mental, is related to books. Books seem to be the one item I find difficult to donate or give away when I'm done reading. So the last thing I needed that morning was another book on organizing my home! Chastising myself for interrupting my workout, I headed back to the treadmill having hopefully learned my lesson.

Books are good, but we may not necessarily always need to buy the book to obtain the information the expert has to offer. Here are a few alternatives that will avoid adding to book clutter around your home:

  • Check out the book from your local library. After having read the library's copy, if it still seems like a "must have" resource, purchase a copy.
  • Check out the author's web site. Many authors offer a tremendous amount of free content online and some even include excerpts of book content.
  • Search for related blogs. I am loving Google Reader and am subscribed to blogs in my many areas of interest. Each morning, I receive my free bits of wisdom from experts around the world. I categorize "keep worthy" posts with stars and tags, thereby keeping my virtual world a little less clutter-free too.
  • Listen to podcasts. If you venture over to iTunes, you'll find a podcast on just about any topic of interest. I listen while doing housework, which makes folding laundry a little less dull and much more educational.
  • Talk to the experts in your life. Rather than buying a book, find someone you admire who has the personality or skill traits you would like to emulate. Invite her for a cup of coffee and an "informational interview". Plan in advance and treat the time respectfully and seriously.

Don't get me wrong – books are awesome…but only if you actually read them, not stack them around the floor of your home!

Home-work for Today:

  • Find one thing you would like to learn about today and research it using a non-book method.
  • If you are unfamiliar with your library's online reservation system, check out this wonderful time saver.

Reading Room Resources:
15 Extra Ways to Keep Your Brain in Shape
Learn Something New Every Day


Lisa Hendey, Catholic wife and mom, is the founder and webmaster of www.CatholicMom.com and the author of A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul and The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and hosts the Catholic Moments Podcast. Visit her at LisaHendey.com.

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  • Guest

    Hi Lisa,

    What would I do without the library? I love books but I could never afford all the ones I want to read, so I wait until they are available through my library system.

    Best wishes,



  • Guest

    Patrice, I agree with you – thank goodness for the library!  We use it not only for books, but also for DVDs and CDs.  Isn't it awesome?! 

    Lisa M. Hendey



    CatholicMom.com – Celebrating Catholic Motherhood