How to Declutter Your Life Part Two: Tackling Your Entertainment

scarves3As part of a new series this year, I wanted to share with you how I am decluttering my life. This is a five month series.  For those who want to take the steps to begin decluttering your life, count on this being a six month life plan to commit to this year.  You’ll need the extra month to truly put this plan into effect.

ESSENTIAL MATERIALS: Make sure to pick up a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.  This is one of the most important books in understanding the points we’ll be covering over these next five months.  Also make sure to have a journal to record your progress.

Step 2. Tackle Your Entertainment

For those who have a rather large entertainment collection (videos, CDs, records, games, books, etc.), today we’re going to focus on how you can downsize your collection.

We are fortunate that we live in an age where we can get rid of our clutter and go digital with almost all of our entertainment needs.  For those who have BluRay players, Smart TVs, XBox Ones and PS4s, (i.e. technology you can connect to the internet) utilize what these devices offer by putting everything up online to access your content through streaming and cloud services.

Take Advantage of Cloud Services – Movies

PART ONE.  You know those pieces of paper you get inside your DVDs and BluRay Discs with a special digital code?  Go online and enter in the codes.  Most use services like Flixster or Ultraviolet.  Those are the two movie cloud services you want to have an account with.  It’s FREE.

What’s great about getting an account with both of these services is that they interlink with each other, so no matter which service you use based on the movie company’s choice provider(s), you can luckily interlink all of the accounts together.  You can do that through the settings on both accounts.

On your Smart TV, Xbox, etc., download a movie app that allows you to access your movie collection.  For me, that app is Cinema Now.

Using that app, link all of your upload libraries (Flixster and Ultraviolet) to the movie app (you can also do this online).  You should be able to access your library of all digital content you entered in codes for through the various upload services.  Movie companies usually decide which service they will use as a digital content service.  You just have to enter in the code, pick which account you have from the list, and then it automatically is added to your cloud library.

When you open up your movie app on your TV, all of the digital content through the various services will be all in one spot to access no matter which TV or device you use.

Going Forward.  Resolve to only purchase all future movies through the streaming service.  You don’t need the actual physical copy to clutter up your home.  By purchasing through the streaming service, you will have access to that movie on any of your devices.  It also saves you a trip to the store or wait time to get it in the mail.

PART TWO.  If you use streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime, consider matching your current library with theirs.  If it’s part of their service, consider ditching your actual copy of the movie.

Most people don’t know that part of their Amazon Prime service is a streaming movie service just like Netflix.  It’s part of the Prime membership.  You don’t have to pay extra for it.  All of the videos you order (or have ordered over the years prior to Prime) are available in the Amazon Cloud for you to access, too.  They also have their own shows like Netflix does.

Netflix and Amazon Prime have a lot of the same movies and TV shows.  The only major difference is their own original content like Orange is the New Black (Netflix) and The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Prime).

For your Smart TVs, video consoles and BluRay players…just download the Netflix and Amazon Prime apps to your TV to access the streaming services.

After you’ve completed PART ONE and PART TWO, you can get rid of the physical DVD/BluRay discs.  They are available to you digitally.  You can make a few bucks off that collection by going to a local retailer that buys used DVDs/BluRays.

PART THREE.  After you have entered in all of the codes you found, matched your collection to Netflix or Amazon Prime, sold your collection (or donated it), now you need to focus on maintenance.

Check every now and again to see if there are any movies popping up on Netflix or Amazon Prime that you already own.  If it’s new to their catalog, you can let go of your copy.  Netflix makes it easy by showing what new movies they’ve added.  Amazon Prime is a bit more laborious to check.  Netflix is the easiest to go through and search.  It’s much faster if you search the collection via your computer.

For the new movies you want to purchase, instead of buying a physical copy of it, you can now buy a digital copy through the movie app (Cinema Now) or even through Amazon.  You can even rent movies if you don’t feel like buying.  The prices to purchase are comparable to the actual physical copy.  What’s also nice is that when you purchase, it downloads immediately.  You don’t have to go to the store or wait for it to be delivered.  It saves time and shipping costs.

Keep in mind that if you rent, check the prices between your cable provider, Amazon and the movie app.  One may be cheaper than the other.  Also, if you can wait, most of the popular movies are out on the movie channels a month after it’s released on DVD.  I DVR it if I want to keep it.  It saves from purchasing the movie itself.

Take Advantage of Streaming Services – Music

I use two streaming music services: Amazon Prime and Google Play.  Of the two, I prefer Google Play.  Amazon Prime Music is part of the Amazon Prime membership.  You don’t pay extra for it.  Google Play is a little less than $11 per month (depending on your state taxes).

I prefer Google Play because I am able to access their extremely large music library.  The selling point for me is the classical collection.  There are certain albums I like and Google Play has it.  Amazon Prime does not.  Not everything on Prime is part of the service.  You have to pay for some of the music.  Google Play, on the other hand, has everything.  To me, that’s worth the $10+ each month: access to unlimited music and stations.

I don’t own any CDs thanks to streaming services.  I can download every single album or song I’ve loved throughout my entire life and not pay anything extra beyond that monthly fee.

Keep in mind though that some artists will force you to purchase their music.  If that’s the case, you’ll need Amazon Prime or iTunes to get their music.  They won’t always be available on streaming services.

Either way, it keeps it digital.  It’s less stuff you have to physically take care of.

Less clutter and less stuff to take care of is our mission!

Take Advantage of Reading Apps – Books

There is an ongoing debate among book lovers.  Hard copy or digital?  Most book lovers do both.  For advanced copies of books, I have to have the physical copies.  They don’t send digital copies (although they should…it would save so much in shipping costs).

PART ONE.  For books I have to have now, or something to read while I’m traveling, I order it through my Nook app or Amazon Kindle app.  I try to order all new books that are available digitally through one of the two apps, depending on who is selling the book cheaper or if I want narration added to it.

One service I do love is Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited.  It’s a monthly service ($9.99/month).  If you think about how much you pay per month for one book…and you read a lot…this service may be best for you.  What I love the most about this service is that most of the books have narration.  If I have to stop reading and walk somewhere, then I switch to narration so I can continue the book while I’m walking.  It’s also great if you’re at work and need something to listen to.  I listen to books while I’m working to help kick out my New Year’s Resolution of reading 52+ Books a year.

There is also the Audible service, but for the same price, you get one credit per month for an audio book.  You also can’t switch back and forth between reading and listening to the narration.  I prefer the Kindle Unlimited because like it says…unlimited books from their library.  That includes the books you can switch back and forth between reading and narration.

So for those times you find that incredible book you just can’t put down but you have to because you have to go from point A to B or you are at work…consider the Kindle Unlimited service.  You can listen to the book when you can’t read it.  The narration picks up right where you left off reading.  That’s why I love this service so much.

PART TWO.  For those who have libraries at home…finding a way to declutter your books (when you are a bibliophile) is just impossible.  So I want to focus on storage.  If you’re looking for the perfect library system, try the Billy cases from Ikea.  They are pretty high and can accommodate a rather large book collection.

I keep all of my books in the library.  Unless I am reading that book, it’s the only time a book is allowed out of that room.  People go on and on about styling their bookcases to look pretty.  All of my books are alphabetized by author.  They are all standing up, none are on its side (a KonMari must, everything must be standing up).  If there are more books than shelf space, that means I have to weed out books to get rid of.

For the books I’ve already read, I only keep the books that were so good that I know I may need a passage from it later.  These are the type of books that moved me.  All the rest are either donated or sold at a resale bookstore.

Because I receive a lot of advanced copies, I have to weed every year to make room for the new review copies.  Out of the advanced copies group, I only keep the books that were personally autographed to me.  All the rest are donated after I review them.  You can’t really resell advanced copies of books.

The key thing about having a library is that all of the books be in ONE PLACE.  Do not scatter them throughout your home (with the exception of coffee table books).  Have them all in one place so that when you are looking for a particular book, you will find it in that one room sitting on the shelf where it is supposed to be.  Come up with a system that works for you.  Alphabetizing by author works for me.

I also keep the review copies separate from the main books in the library.  They have their own book shelf so I know which books I’m supposed to review.

The KonMari method teaches that we should stand everything up on its side (folded clothing, books, etc.).  Keep that in mind as you place the books in an order that works for you.

The method of going through the collection and asking yourself if the book ‘sparks joy’ is a bit fruitless to ask of bibliophiles.  All of the books spark joy.

In order to declutter from an overflowing collection, start with the books you’ve already read.  If you have no intention of reading or referencing it again…let it go.  If there are books that were given to you that you have no intention of ever reading because it’s not something that interests you…let it go.  Books that are too damaged to read, recycle them.  College books…come on, you are never going to read them again…let it go.

The most important thing in this process is to make sure you have the correct storage space for your library.  If it’s overflowing, or you can’t stand all the books up on the shelves, you need to pare down or get a book shelf that will work for your budding collection.  Start paring down the groups I mentioned above.  Give those books another chance to let someone else enjoy them.  It served its purpose in your life.  By letting it go, it’s one less thing you have to take care of.

PART THREE.  Maintaining order in your reading apps is very important.  You can order up a storm of books and they will all sit there in your queue waiting to be read.  This is where YOU STOP doing that.  In a way, you are overwhelming yourself by creating a clutter of books you need to read on an app.  Resolve from here on out to buy the book when you plan on reading it.

For books you’ve read, make sure you archive it, return it (Amazon Kindle), or remove it from your active library.  You can always recall the book whenever you need it (if you purchased it).  This clears up your visual library when you open up the device/app.  Your goal is to be a minimalist in this decluttering journey.

If you really want to start decluttering your devices/apps, consider putting most of the books into the archive and leaving only the next 3-5 books you want to read in the queue.  As you finish and archive each book, you can go through the archive and add the next book to the queue or purchase a new book.

Your goal is to declutter your reading apps.  Maybe someday they’ll create reading lists (like they do music playlists) where you can easily drop and categorize your books.  So if you’re in the mood to read a teen book, you can just go to your TEEN BOOKS list you created and pick one from your archived list.  I guess I should email them and request this?

For the Gamers

Gamers technically already know that if they have an internet based game console, they can just order the new game through the console and it is uploaded immediately.  No need to purchase the physical copy.

Buying a physical copy means you have to use that disc each time you want to play the game.  It’s better to just download the game.  This is great especially if you’re at someone else’s house and want to play a game you downloaded.  Just switch to your profile on the other person’s game console and you can play.

You can take games/consoles you no longer want to places like Game Stop to resell.

When you pare down your games, you want to ask yourself if this game brings you joy or not.  If it doesn’t, let it go.  If you are not going to play it again, let it go.  If you beat the game already, let it go.  If you have the next version of the game (like most sports games) and it’s better than the older version, let the older version go.

I know there are collectors out there, so with the older game consoles and games, if they still function properly, keep and maintain them.  I know how it feels to be nostalgic and want to play Atari or Nintendo 64.

For current and new games, consider downloading the games from here on out.  Or use a game renting service like Gamefly.

Keep in mind that the less stuff you have, the less things you have to take care of.  Your goal here is to declutter and get rid of everything that does not bring you joy.  The only things you want to keep in your home are the things that bring you joy.

Does it Spark Joy? 

Remember that throughout this whole process of decluttering your entertainment, your first question is “Does this spark joy?”  If it doesn’t, let it go.  The whole purpose of decluttering the KonMari way is to only keep the things in your home that brings you joy.  You only want to surround yourself with the things that bring you joy.

After you have used this method to pare down everything (sometimes it can take a few tries to declutter one category), what you want to have left from your collection are ‘just enough.’  In other words, you have enough and you don’t need anymore.  You’ve minimized your collection down to where things are not overflowing.  You are content with the amount you have.  For some people it may be nothing.  For others 25, 75, 100, or 500.  Just as long as you have adequate storage and things are not overflowing, you can have as many as you want…but the whole idea to decluttering is to have less things so you can do the things you’d rather be doing without being burdened down by stuff that will suck the energy out of you.