52 Weeks: #13 Purge magazine backlogs

If you are new to 52 Weeks of Organizing, catch up here!

A couple of weeks ago when I posted about watching a movie to get things done, I was surprised to see how many of you hadn’t thought to do that before.  Then I realized that not everyone is addicted to television like I am..hahaha!  However (and here’s where I justify it) I rarely ever just sit and watch without also doing something else.  It’s how I get most things done in fact.  I sometimes see these beautiful laundry rooms with folding tables or shelves and I always think, oh my word, who in their right mind stands to fold laundry staring at nothing in their laundry rooms?  I seriously could never do it.  I would put off that chore until the cows come home.  Instead, I dump my big ol laundry basket out on my bed and pop in an episode of something on the TV (we don’t have any kind of cable or satellite anymore but oh how I love watching old TV shows on DVD) and get to work.  It turns a drudgery job into one I actually look forward to.  This works for so many things including many areas of organizing as well.  Drawers are a great example.  Most of them can come right out of their slots making them portable.  Turn on a show and start sorting.  Challenge yourself to continue for as long as your show is running.  You will be amazed at what you can get done!

Last week I loved the great job Mom Starting From Scratch did organizing her electronics/cords drawer.  Something like this is an excellent project to do while watching TV 🙂



Love it!  She did an awesome job sorting all those cords and dividing them up using boxes she had on hand and just cutting off the tops.  Way to go!

Now let’s talk magazines for a minute shall we?  Put your hands up if you love them as much as I do?  I really do but now I try to get them from the library to read because that way there is an imposed deadline to have them read by.  If they don’t get read before they are due than oh well, back to the library they go and I avoid the piles scattered around my home.  Do you have these piles?  Take a look?  In my book, Clutter Rehab, I suggest as a good rule of thumb not keeping more than 3 months worth of a backlog.  If you haven’t read a magazine that’s been sitting there for three months, chances are pretty good you aren’t going to.  Cut your losses, take a deep breath of relief and consider donating them to a local hospital or other charity.  It will feel great, I promise!  Having them piled up, staring you down is just another visual reminder of something left undone.  Why torture yourself like that?

stack of magazines

image credit: colemama

Another reason people hang onto their magazines is because there is an article or recipe they want to reference.  If this is the case, go through the magazines and rip out those pages or if there isn’t many scan them into your computer.  Create a file folder or binder to collect this information but really be brutally honest with yourself here.  Don’t continue to burden yourself with projects to build, recipes to make or crafts to try if in this season of life you can honestly say you just don’t have the time.  It’s okay.  And remember, next month there will be many more articles striving to get your time and attention.  Be strong!

Okay my friends, now I have to ask how you all did maintaining your homes last week?  Were you able to stay on top of it?  I read this blurp on the funny Bearded Iris site last week in reference to daily maintenance and loved the analogy.

Maintaining is much much easier and less painful than the initial work it takes to get a space looking that good. It’s just like going to the dentist. If you floss everyday (which I do!), those bi-annual dentist visits are much easier, right? Same thing with your house. It’s just that sometimes we need a big ol’ painful scraping session to get to the point where we can easily maintain it on our own. That’s what led me to Org Junkie… I had gone too long without “flossing” my house. But now I’m back on track and things are definitely starting to look bright and shiny around here.

Awesome advice! 🙂

Your questions of the week:

  1. How far back does your magazine backlog go?
  2. Will you be able to part with some of them?  What is the hardest part of doing this for you?
  3. What area(s) are on your list for next week?
  4. For fun…do you do your laundry folding standing up at a table or sitting down?

Please feel free to share your organizing journey and encourage one another in the comments. You are also invited to link up to the linky below with any posts related to your 52 weeks of organizing participation or to a post of an organizing nature that you feel will help and encourage others in their quest to get organized. Please remember to link back to here though so we can reach out to as many people as possible in need of some inspiration.

One other thing to consider: by including your link below you, you are giving me permission to use parts of your post including pictures as a spotlight in future 52 Weeks of Organizing posts. Proper credit and links will of course be provided. If you are not okay with this please do not link up. Thanks!

Filed under: 52 Weeks of Organizing


53 Responses to 52 Weeks: #13 Purge magazine backlogs

  1. 3
    Jenna says

    Great tip about organizing a drawer while doing something else…I’m working on drawers right now and never thought about taking it out and moving it to another place so I could watch a dvd or something while I work on it. I think I’m going to try that!

  2. 4
    Mary says

    As always, thank you so much for your post and for the 52 week challenge. I’m really enjoying the motivation each week to try to think of an area I might have otherwise left unorganized for a little while longer, or otherwise would have tried to cram too many organizational projects into a week – burning out myself and my family. One a week is just the perfect amount, thanks!

    I ended up having emergency gallbladder surgery this past Wednesday and what a huge difference it made that my house was already clean! Daily Maintenance is the best thing ever to get rid of unnecessary stress during times of chaos. It is so much easier to try to recover from my surgery in an already clean house, and easier for my husband to help out when he is only dealing with the things that accumulate daily instead of a whole bunch of past messes.

    Thanks again!

    • 4.1
      Laura says

      Oh no, hope you feel better soon!!

  3. 5
    Mary says

    Thank you so much for your 52 week challenge. I love the motivation to do one project each week. I otherwise I probably would have fluctuated between weeks when I do too many projects (and burnout me and my family) and weeks when I don’t do enough (making more of mess for the future). One extra project a week is perfect, thank you!

  4. 6
    Organized Living Solutions says

    Ouch, this week will be a challenge for me. I just love interior design magazines and i keep them for years, referring back time and again.
    So maybe I will skip this one and work on my bookshelf instead :-).
    Happy organizing everybody!

    • 6.1
      Laura says

      Yes for sure….if you have the space and are using them then it’s definitely okay to keep them. I was mostly referring to those who keep them scattered throughout the house but don’t ever read them.

  5. 7
    Rachel says

    I keep on ‘keeping’ magazines, then quite often we move house before I have time to purge them, so for the most part they all end up in the recycling. I have 4 magazine files and I’m trying to keep to what will fit in there and hope that I will be able to purge them at intervals to keep them under control.

    re: Laundry, we don’t have a dryer and our washer is in our very small kitchen, so we dry outside or on airers in the dining room or hallway – that means we need to empty the airers before more washing can go up to dry – so I fold as I take them off, simple and they already have one fold from the airer rail.

  6. 8
    Hedi says

    Folding laundry – when I´m busy standing up, but when I have time, often in the evening sitting and chatting or watching tv. So you´re not alone!

  7. 9
    shawn says

    A great way to use some of the old magazines…roll them up and slide them down into a pair of boots to keep them from bending over at the ankles when not being worn.

  8. 10
    Martha (MM) says

    Good morning Laura and 52 week challengers. I posted 2 of my kitchen cleaning and organizing projects this morning but after reading this post I think I’ll concentrate on both the electronic cords and do a post about magazines this weekend – thanks for the motivation! TGIF!!!

  9. 11
    Kelly says

    Folding laundry – You described me exactly! 🙂 I get everything washed and then am surrounded by mounds and mounds of it. I make every effort to get it all washed by Thursday night, then I fold for 2 1/2 hours while my favorite TV shows are on. And it often takes me the full 2 1/2 hours because I run to the kitchen and work on the dishes while the commercials are on. 🙂

    I’m not even going to go into how many months (or years) or backlog magazines I have! If I could just get my grandmother to stop passing on her collection to me…

    • 11.1
      Rachel says

      I love the dishes idea. doing dishes is my nemesis since we lost the dishwasher, I always wait till it gets really bad. do you refil the water and let things soak between commercial breaks?

      • Kelly says

        Dishes are my nemesis too! This is one of the only things that motivates me to actually do them (and the fact that my family is whining that there aren’t any clean spoons!) Well, I do have a dishwasher so I don’t have to fill the sink with water. But I do soak things that didn’t get rinsed immediately while I fold the laundry and watch my show. Then it’s all ready to go in the dishwasher by the next commercial break (or two).

    • 11.2
      Laura says

      I miss having commercials to motivate me because boy could you get a lot done during them!!

  10. 12
    Jenny says

    My mother use to hang on to magazines. In fact had boxes and boxes of them. Now I check them out from the library when I want to red one. I receive one monthly magazine, architectural digest. I don’t plan on keeping year after year. Just what I need for work. I love the idea of scanning in just the articles you need and keeping a file on computer.

  11. 13
    Sarah says

    I only get three magazines, and one is current events, so it goes in the recycling bin as soon as the next issue arrives. Another is crossword puzzles, and it goes in the recycling bin as soon as it’s done. Which leaves Real Simple (of course).

    My ladder-style magazine rack holds 10 magazines. The top rung has the current events magazine, and the Real Simples start at the bottom and work up. Once it’s filled, ALL the Real Simples go.

    It’s not traumatic because I do a lot of “processing” of the issues when they come in. First I flip through fairly quickly and tear out any page that has ads on both sides (often, I expand “ad” to include fashion and beauty tips, which I’m not all that into). Then I actually read it, turning down the corners on pages that actually interest me (typically recipes). When it comes time to clean out the rack, I only look at the turned-down pages: if I’m still interested in them nine months later, the recipes go into the “recipes to try” envelope, and anything else goes in the “to read” folder.

    Reading what I just wrote, it looks like I spend hours upon hours dedicated to Real Simple, but it’s not that way in real life–most if not all of this is done while watching TV, waiting for food to cook, etc.

    And as for folding laundry…neither! I fold on top of the dryer, but try to spend as much time as possible in a wide-stance squat, sometimes lunging slowly from side to side. Hey, any time you can sneak exercise in, might as well!

    • 13.1
      Laura says

      Love the squat idea…that’s a great way to sneak exercise in!!

  12. 14
    Joyce says

    I have a very different take on folding laundry. It gets folded right from the dryer into baskets, one for each family member. It was a struggle to make that a habit but now it means I never have baskets of unfolded laundry hanging around. All laundry gets done in one day and the I close the door of the laundry room (really not much more than a large closet) and don’t look at it again till next week.

  13. 15
    Stacey says

    Hello all,
    I fold laundry seated on my couch while watching TV. I only have 2 magazine subscriptions so you would think I’d be able to keep up but no….If you’re donating magazines please drop some off at your favorite auto repair shop. I know the ladies that have their cars serviced there are tired of flipping through “Field and Stream” and “Car and Driver”.

  14. 16
    Shonda says

    I totally watch DVD’s that I get from the library while folding laundry. I put down my son for nap and pop in Grey’s Anatomy, Lost or The Office. It’s my time to veg and get something done!

  15. 17
    Corrie says

    This week’s post is certainly going to be shared with my husband…

    1.How far back does your magazine backlog go?
    His magazine collection goes back to the early 90’s. I kid you not – he has nearly every issue of his favourite 4-wheeling magazine dating back to when he got his first Jeep in 1991. He has talked many times about purging them (He kept them for the very reason Laura mentions – plans/projects he hoped to undertake). I honestly didn’t know of this collection until recently (we’ve been together since ’98) – although I did think I was likely losing my mind because we kept going through hundreds of magazine boxes (I figured I misplaced and/or lost them).

    2.Will you be able to part with some of them? What is the hardest part of doing this for you?
    He is trying… But about as hard as I am to purge my button collection. 😉

    3.What area(s) are on your list for next week?
    For me, the front hall closet… Seasons are changing and we need to find spring coats and put away the parkas!

    4.For fun…do you do your laundry folding standing up at a table or sitting down?
    Laundry? What’s that? Doesn’t everyone’s husband do that tedious task? 😉

    Thanks for the inspiration and great ideas!

  16. 18
    Candice says

    The only magazines I hang onto are scrapbooking magazines. They provide me with an endless source of inspiration for the days I am stuck with scrap-block. They are currently organized in my scrapping wardrobe, each title has it’s own holder. Once the holder gets full, I force myself to purge a few issues. Of course, I thumb through them one last time & pull out any articles I really really want to keep in my inspiration notebook. Any other magazines that find their way into my home have 2 months to live!
    The area of my home I’m working on lately is my kitchen! I have picked up 2 wire shelves (in different styles) to make more cupboard space. However, I have noticed that the rest of my kitchen is a crazy hot mess! This weekend I’m rolling up my sleeves, jumping in the trenches & taking on the chaos in my kitchen! Wish me luck!
    I am totally with you on folding laundry Laura!!! My laundry is in my basement which is cold & lonely! I always bring it upstairs & fold it in the living room, this way I can be with my family & check out what’s on tv. I would rather do projects & organizing when I have a little entertainment. When I’m cleaning, my iPod is my BFF!

  17. 19
    Amy says

    I finally decided to stop buying so many magazines and only have 2 subscriptions (plus a couple of gift ones). I will admit, though, that I don’t always read them in a timely manner and they stack up! Luckily I have a family member who reads them after me so there is a fast/easy way to purge — and we both win!!

    Re: laundry — standing up! Seems to go faster that way.

  18. 20
    Sarah says

    1. I tackled my magazines a little while before the 52 weeks project started…they went back to 2003!!! I had read them all but kept them because I thought I would refer to recipes, tips etc. Of course as the collection grew it became too overwhelming to think about using them or finding the info I wanted.

    2. I had a hard time parting with them when I felt like they represented an unfinished project. I ended up flipping through them all once more and taking snapshots of the pages I wanted to keep with my digital camera (I found it to be faster than a scanner and it left the magazines intact so I could give them away). Now I have ZERO magazines but a nicely organized collection of info on my computer. When I’m ready to try a recipe I can find the one I want, copy it into my recipe software and delete the photo. As I keep using the info I will delete the photos until they are all gone.

    I love the idea of getting the magazines from the library. I will definitely be doing that in the future.

    3. I don’t know! I need to make a new list (which is funny since I wrote about how I organize my lists for this week’s post on my blog).

    4. My favorite activity while folding laundry is people watching and chatting with neighbors who are also doing laundry since we don’t have laundry at home and have to go to the Laundromat!

  19. 21
    Sheridan says

    How far back does your magazine backlog go? I have a magazine from 9/11. I keep it in my magazine rack and remember each time I purge.

    For fun…do you do your laundry folding standing up at a table or sitting down? I do it as I empty the dryer. Standing.

  20. 22
    Living the Balanced Life says

    Love the idea for the cords. I despise cords. will have to consider something like this.
    Magazines? I have a love/hate relationship with magazines. I don’t have nearly as many as I used to as I try to read blogs instead of magazines, but… Luckily my oldest daughter has started a biz reusing and repurposing items into jewelry accessories and other items and one of the items she is using is magazines! SO I just took a BIG box to her!
    I only do one load of laundry a day and I fold it on my bed standing by the bed. It usually only takes 5-10 minutes so it is not a big deal to me! My kids do their own laundry!
    Discovering the Real You

    • 22.1
      Laura says

      Mine too!! Yay for that 🙂

  21. 23
    Shannon says

    Ooooh…this week is going to be easy for me – I HATE keeping magazines…sort of. We only get Macleans and Real Simple. Macleans goes as soon as we’re done with it. I’m trying to get rid of them weekly, but often we get rid of two or three at a time. I figure if we haven’t read them before the next issue comes, we’re not interested…As for Real Simple, I keep them for a year. So I have 12 issues hanging around. In theory when the new issue comes, I toss the old one…but I go through it first. The reason I tend to keep them for a year is that I actually do use them and after a year I just pull out anything useful. I go to their website if I need something I’ve accidentally tossed and so far I’ve found everything I was looking for. My exception is the Christmas issues – I don’t keep them all, but the one from 2008 had so many things I’ve used that I just kept it – it’s easier to have it all in one place. It’s put away with the Christmas stuff though and it only comes out at Christmas.

    I do have random other magazines floating around – ones that I’ve usually picked up at the check out at the grocery store. I came across a Canadian Living from the fall the other night and spent some time pulling out a few recipes, but it’s gone now.

    This week I’m trying to finish up the desk area in our bedroom…so far it’s taken much less time than I thought it would…and that’s a good thing!

    I fold laundry either sitting in the living room (on the couch or the floor depending on how much there is) or standing beside the bed. I like Sarah’s squat idea though!

  22. 24
    Living So Abundantly says

    My husband is the same way! However, I cannot watch t.v. and get much done. I get most of my to-do list items done while talking on the phone or listening to music, though. =D I wish I were productive while watching t.v. 😉

  23. 25
    Julia says

    I have been holding on to homeschooling magazines. I do reread them and use them for ideas, but I think I’m going to think of a workable way to organize lesson ideas.

    I fold laundry over my bed standing up. We dump the laundry on the bed throughout the day and then my husband and I fold it after we put the kids to bed.

  24. 26
    Sue says

    Hi Laura,

    I’ve been following ’52 Weeks’ and I’ve been perusing all of the blogs…. L-O-V-E it!!! All of these wonderful ladies and you have inspired me to try & do more. It’s been itty bitty baby steps, but slowly, surely it will get done. As I’ve been reading blogs & checking out pics, I’ve been getting ideas on what I can re-purpose in my own house & what I can ‘shop’ in my own house. This weekend hubby & I worked on the ‘hot spot’ on the end of the counter. Decluttering & moving to more appropriate spots. I HAD to have hubby help on this, since this was ‘his’ spot. I needed something that HE felt in control of. I just got the tools (baskets & Command hooks) to do it. I think allowing him to declutter that space will help him keep it that way. As for magazines, I do have a stack that I’ve been slowly whittling down. There have been 4 magazine sales from schools, Girl Scouts & family members recently & I didn’t re-up any of my subscriptions. The only magazines that I am saving are my scrapbook magazines that are in my yet-to-be-finished-organizing-and-put-together craft room – ummmmm…. piled…. BUT!!!!! they are in the right area… Thanks so much Laura!! And all you wonderful bloggers out there!!! Keep up the good work!!!

    • 26.1
      Laura says

      Love to hear this, so AWESOME! Love how you got hubbie on board as well. So happy for you!!

  25. 27
    Heather says

    1. How far back does your magazine backlog go?
    I only have subscriptions on my NookColor, I think 2, and I purchase extras if I want to read them.
    2. Will you be able to part with some of them? What is the hardest part of doing this for you?
    I easily part with magazines that come in physical form. I read them, give them to my son’s grandma, she reads them, and then we get rid of them.
    3. What area(s) are on your list for next week?
    I really want to get my dresser top finished and my printer working. Grr. I also want to figure out if Once a Month cooking is for me. I started reading and I would definitely need to get an organized system working if I plan to do that.
    4. For fun…do you do your laundry folding standing up at a table or sitting down?
    I have to stand while doing laundry. No question about it. I can sit to match socks, but that’s it.

    • 27.1
      granny annie says

      Bundle past issues of magazines with string. Put them in your garage sale items and offer them for a very low price. You get rid of them and people who actually want them, get them. You must put a price on them, even if its just 10 cents for the lot, because people fear anything that is free.

  26. 28
    se7en says

    Thanks for 52 weeks I am being refined by this process!!! For all my years of purposeful decluttering I am finally getting the whole “you are in it for the long haul-ness of it”… We fold the laundry at the end of the day – just before! I get the kids to bring it in off the line in piles: a pile of trousers, a pile of tops and so on… and then while I am cooking I quickly fold a pile… and another… and another… until dinner/laundry is done. There is a reason for this speedymadness: We can only eat if the table is clear so every one except my youngest (18 mo) has to put their laundry away – and fast!!! The little guy does the dish towels at his own level. So laundry is folded really fast and cleared away even faster!!! I would hate to waste a good tv picture with folding laundry!!!

    • 28.1
      Laura says

      That’s awesome, I love the way that works for your family! Way to go finding a system just right for you, whoot!

  27. 30
    Christina @ This Woman Cooks! says

    Getting rid of old magazines is one of my projects for Spring Break. I mostly keep all my cooking magazines so I’m going to go through all of them and tear out pages of recipes I actually want to try. I’m thinking of getting a binder or organizer to keep them in.

    I also fold laundry while watching TV. It’s so much easier that way!

    • 30.1
      Laura says

      Good luck with your project!!

  28. 31
    Sara P says

    1.It depends – the only ones I keep are Cooking light and family fun. Any catalogs go into one basket and when it gets full I purge.
    2.Yes. I use to have a harder time throwing things out like recipes but now that everything is on the internet it is alot easier!
    3. My jewelry/craft table.
    4. On the floor in front of the tv in my bedroom while my kids “wind down” (chase eachother til they are exhausted).

  29. 32
    Jessi says

    A lot of nonprofits need donations of magazines, depending on what they do. You could donate the ones that pile up and you’re ready to recycle. The organization I work for loves using them with our kids to make craft projects!


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