Week 13 of the Clever Girl Organizing Challenge: Entertainment and Media

It’s Week 13 of the Clever Girl Organizing Challenge, and as we begin the last 4 weeks of The Challenge, we’re focusing on some of the categories that really seem to attract clutter unless they’re reviewed regularly over time.  This week, we’re working on Entertainment and Media items. Chances, are, you can find these items in almost every room in your house, so, this one is less a “space” challenge and more a “category” challenge.  You’ll work through your whole home to identify what you have, and make decisions about what is really worth keeping going forward.

Let’s dive in! 

16 challenge

Week 13:  Entertainment and Media

Level 1 Challenge: Toys, games, movies, music, and video games. The first level this week is about the items we tend to own for fun and entertainment.  

How to tackle this one:  Gather all the items, or work in a space where you can see the whole collection, so you can review what you have.

This one is really going to be about what you’re making space for in your life TODAY, and how you want to feel about the space around you, and the function it gives you, even if the answer is “I just want the place to feel less cluttered” or “I just want it to be easier to keep clean”.  I say this, because collections like Movies, Music, (and books, below) can be VERY difficult categories to edit.  They represent decisions you made at a point in time of what you wanted in your life.  Even though you haven’t listened to a particular CD in 20 years, it can still be hard to let it go.  

Remember, we want to be constantly thinking critically about why we are KEEPING something, not just accepting the status quo of “it isn’t causing a problem, so there is no need to get rid of it”.  We’re working through ACTIVELY creating space for the items of value, not just going along with the momentum of what we’ve always had.  Some questions to help you think through these items: 

  • Is this something we still use today?
  • If not, when is the last time we used it? 
  • Are we likely to use it again?
  • Are we keeping it for sentimental reasons? If so, (a) do we have enough in the “sentimental” category and (b) is this the place we want to be storing items we don’t use regularly any more?
  • Am I keeping it because I think it says something about who I am, and I want others to feel a certain way about me? 
  • Will someone else use this or love this more than we are here today? 


Level 2 Challenge: Books and magazines, including the children’s books in the house.  Books, Magazines and Children’s books all have such different reasons for coming into your home and staying in your home.  But they, too, can stay long past where they’re bringing value to your space and to your life, and they can use editing.

How to tackle this one:  This is another one that’s all about items we’ve collected over time, with decisions we’ve made that reflect the time in our life when it was made, maybe more than it reflects our life today. 

  • Magazines: These typically come in one of 4 categories:
    • I haven’t read it yet, but still thought I might at some point.  Be critical here — this is a good category to limit by size. Would you keep 3 or 4 or 6 on hand, and determine that you can get rid of older ones, because you are less likely to read them?  Also, consider a time limit: “If I haven’t read these in 2 weeks, they get recycled.”  

      I’ll often hear “Well, I just want to go through them to see if there’s anything I want to rip out and save.”  If that is REALLY your plan, do the time limit, not only for how long you’ll keep it, but for how much time you’ll spend flipping through an issue.  Is 5 minutes enough to flip, rip and toss?

      (By the way, consider if you REALLY should be continuing a subscription for a magazine that you’re not making time for in your life. Maybe it’s time to let that subscription go.  Cancel, or get off of the auto-renewal option. I just did this myself this past week, and let go of 2 subscriptions I’ve gotten for YEARS.  It was time. I won’t miss them. Ask yourself:  “Will I REALLY miss this if it stops coming to my home?” )

    • I read it, and want to keep it for a particular reason.  This might be a situation where you’ve already decided you’re keeping an issue for a reason, like an article or a recipe or a product idea or something. Consider other ways you can capture this item, from ripping out the page, to recording it in a note (I use Evernote for things like this) to taking a picture of it.  Then recycle the rest of the issue. 

    • I read them (or didn’t), and collect them. It’s important to me to save each issue, in an organized fashion. I get it that people have magazine collections.  I’ll just put this out there:  If you’re saving these for yourself and your own enjoyment, and they’re really something you enjoy regularly, then great, have at it.  If you’re saving these because you think there is financial value in the collection, and it might be something you want to sell some day, do that research NOW to determine if that is true.  Magazines are often much less valuable than people think, and difficult to get rid of in bulk, once you determine the value isn’t there and you want to let go of the collection.  Check what collections of that magazine sell for (not “are listed for”) on eBay to see what the going market is. Here is an interesting post about National Geographic Magazine, for instance, which many people have collected, that walks through why your collection may not be as valuable as you think. 


  • Children’s Books: These also come in a few categories when you think through them:
    • Still age appropriate for my kids.  Still weed through these to make sure you don’t have more than you truly need to have on hand. Make sure they’re in good shape and they’re ones you know your kids will actually read and enjoy.  If they’ve been gifted or handed down to you, make sure you’re being critical to ensure they’re in your child’s interests and abilities. 
    • No longer age appropriate for my kids, but the book has a sentimental value.  Keep these *selectively*, and decide if you still want them stored where they are, or put away safely. 
    • No longer age appropriate for my kids, and no real sentimental value to the book.  These are prime candidates for donation, where you can bring the gift of reading to those who need it most. 


FOR BOTH LEVELS:   What to do with what you’re letting go of:

  • Sell or Trade for Value — Is it in good enough condition that you could sell it? Maybe! Research first. But make a plan TODAY! Take that picture, find that online description to use, write the post and POST IT!  Get it out….  In addition to local options like online Facebook Yard Sale groups or actual yard sales in actual yards, and Craigslist or Ebay or Kijiji, consider some online specialty stores. 
  • Recycling and e-cycling — check with your town or city for what their options are for dropping off or picking up items that may be recyclable through e-cycling programs; they may accept cds and dvds. VHS tapes are harder to dispose of; you’ll need to check locally (maybe check earth911 for a resource near you). 
  • Free-cycle or give away items through craigslist or Facebook yard sale groups or at the swap station at your town. Take that picture, write that post and POST IT!
  • Donate — if it is in good working condition, but not worth selling, consider donating it.  Get it in the car TODAY or schedule that pick up TODAY!



How The Challenge Works:
As With Every Week, Your mission:

1) Take on Level 1, and if you’re feeling up to the challenge, Level 2. If you’ve already got those covered, identify a challenge for yourself that you know you should be tackling.

2) Whenever possible, take BEFORE and AFTER pictures. You don’t have to share them with anyone but yourself, but it is a fantastic way to (a) identify clutter that’s become invisible to you over time and (b) truly measure and appreciate your progress. 

3) We’re all about letting things go…  be critical about what you’re keeping and why you’re keeping it.  Always ask yourself these critical questions to help decide if you should hold onto items: 

  • Is using this item part of my current life or likely future?
  • If I didn’t have this item and needed it for some reason, is it easily replaced or borrowed?
  • Can someone else use this more than I seem to be using it now? 
  • Am I keeping it for a “maybe some day” or a “just in case” option? How likely is that situation? And am I keeping more in that category than I should, given the space constraints I have?
  • Is it part of my past, and holding onto it reminds me of a former self? And am I keeping more in that category than I should, given the space constraints I have?

4) Stay FOCUSED on this task.  Know what FINISHED looks like, and don’t get distracted by other projects or areas of attention that cross your path while you’re on this assignment.  

5) Have a plan on where things will go — give away to someone you know, donate, sell, recycle or trash.  This Challenge isn’t just about creating new piles that don’t have a future!

6) Work in manageable chunks of time and energy. It’s a marathon, not a sprint! 

7) Celebrate and reward yourself for a job well done!



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