Too Many Magazines-Box Them Up!

Magazines are something a lot of us get hung up on. They have beautiful pictures, they have neat ideas and they are purposely placed at the checkout counter in grocery stores so we are more enticed to buy them as we start perusing an article while we wait in line. Whether your preference is fashion, design, news, cooking or gossip, remember, you have the choice to buy.

But what happens when the magazine collection starts to get out of hand? How many is too many? Is 10 enough, what about 40? Do you have 900?

In the April/May 2014 issue of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization‘s The Chronical, Kate Varness, CPO-CD and ICD Education Director, discusses a client she saw in Illinois who had 900 magazines. Her article, “Overcoming Magazine Overload”, explains the process she went through to help a client achieve a goal of eliminating her magazine collection. Though not an easy, or fast, process, Varness’s article shows how it is possible to achieve a goal, even when it is uncomfortable, providing the person is ready to try.

Once we completed sorting, she and I looked at all the bins with the magazines, and I asked, “How long do you think it takes you to read one magazine?”

She said an hour.

Then I said, “We have six bins of about 150 magazines each, so that is 900 magazines. If it takes an hour each, that is 900 hours. If you spent one hour a day reading a magazine it would take you 2-1/2 years to get through these bins. And that doesn’t count the magazines that you will continue to receive during that time. How will using 900 hours in that way impact your ability to do the other goals you have?”

She was silent. I could tell she felt very conflicted about the magazines.

So I asked, “What’s the worst thing that can happen if you don’t have these magazines?”

Her response was, “I won’t have that knowledge available.”

I followed it with, “And what’s the worst thing about not having that knowledge available?”

She said, “I won’t know the best way to fix a problem.”

My response: “Have you ever been able to solve a problem to your satisfaction without using information found in a magazine?”

“Yes,” she said hesitantly.

“What made it possible for you to solve it without that information?”

“Well,” she said, “I knew what to do because I had other experiences like it.”

“So you solved it without needing these?” and I pointed to the magazine bins.

“Yes, but what if I have a problem that is something I’m not good at, like technology? I have to have these to help me with that.”

I responded, “OK, let’s say you have a technology issue. The first thing you would do is come down here and look through your magazines?”

“Ah, no.”

“What would you do?”

“I would probably call my son,” she said.

“And then you would come down to look at the magazines?”

She was quiet. And I knew that she knew there was very little chance that she would ever get around to reading or referencing these.

“Can we try an experiment?”


“Can I place these magazines in cardboard boxes in the garage, and if you haven’t wanted to get into the boxes for a month, then I have your permission to take them?”

“OK.” But she still didn’t sound convinced.

I said, “I can tell that you are a bit uncomfortable about this, so let’s see if your strong emotion stays the same or changes about the idea of recycling these magazines. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being highest, how uncomfortable do you feel about recycling the magazines?”


“Next week when I come I will ask you about it again, and we will compare your number. Okay? Then we will decide how to proceed.”

“OK.” And she sounded more at ease.

It took several weeks, but Varness’s client finally reached her goal of parting with all 900 magazines.

If you have something you are holding on to and want to part with, but just can’t, try the box it up approach. At Absolutely Organized we often use this technique with our clients. Chances are if you have something boxed that you have never needed to use like old newspapers, National Geographics, books, clothes or old college notes-you really don’t need it.

Stop bringing items you find it hard to part with into your home. Make the choice to say no.

If you have organizational goals you are not able to reach on your own, a professional organizer can help make the process easier and more obtainable. We offer the know-how and support to get you there.

Jenny Power, Absolutely Organized, LLC