Thursday, March 13, 2008

Is There an AA for Magazines?

Hi, my name is Carla, and I'm a magazinaholic.

There. I've put it out there for the world to see. I have a problem with magazines. I practically stalk the mail carrier each day to see what magazines she has in store for me. I never get to wait in line long enough at the grocery store to look at all the pretty magazines in the aisle. And a hot night out must include a trip to Barnes and Noble so I can fondle the magazine rack.

To be fair, I've cut back. Way back. I used to get about 30 magazines monthly. Yes, you read that right. Thirty. Three-O. Practically one for every day of the month. Lately I've been letting many of my subscriptions expire without renewing. I guess the first step is admitting you have a problem.

Right now, my "problem" is that my house is still overflowing with unread magazines.

I've been reading It's All Too Much. Living A Richer Life with Less Stuff by Peter Walsh. I've read a lot of books on organization (yes, that's another vice of mine, but we'll have to deal with that some other time) but I can honestly say that this is one of the best that I've read. Not only does he get behind the psychology of why we have a hard time parting with certain things, but he gives very clear guidelines about how much to keep and how to determine what is right for you. It's not simply a book about how to organize, but digs much deeper and requires you to focus on the reality of your life and your living space.

Anyway - back to the magazines. His suggestion is to limit your subscriptions to three magazines and to keep no more than two current issues of each. It seems simple enough really, but seeing it in black and white and having the words "you'll never get around to reading those back issues; what are you hoping to find in them; it will be outdated before you ever get around to them" really seemed to drive home the fact that I really never DO get around to reading the old issues. I really don't know what I'm looking for in most of them and that information would be widely available elsewhere anyway. And I really don't want to read about selecting the perfect Christmas tree in May.

Armed with determination, I gathered up all the magazines I could find, and I have to be honest and say that it took me to every room in the house. And the garage. And the car.

Sorting them out was a pretty easy task. I simply sorted them into piles, discarded all but the most recent two issues of each one, and then put the rest in a basket for easy reading.

From now on, all magazines will be contained in this basket. Period. When a new one comes in, the old one goes out, even if it is unread. If I haven't read it in two months, I'm not going to. I won't be tempted to get a larger basket. And I won't be tempted to scatter them through the house so that it just looks like I have them under control.

But I also won't be cutting my subscriptions down to just three magazines either. Let's not get crazy about this. Baby steps, Peter. Baby steps.


Anonymous said...

Great read (I love Peter and my Google alert on his name took me to your blog)! I wanted to suggest that if you get a new issue and find you haven't read the last 2 in your might consider calling and canceling the subscription. They will send you a refund for any unmailed issues. I had to say it, as I know it's something Peter would suggest. :)


Carla said...

Melissa - that's a great idea. Now that I have them all in one place, it will be much easier to keep track of what I have and haven't read.

Peter would be proud!

Denise said...

I have a similar magazine 'problem" (although calling it a problem isn't my idea!). I also have the same magazine basket! Genius minds think alike! :)

Gamerbabe said...

I ended up canceling several subscriptions to magazines friends also read. We end up trading magazines back and forth now instead of having the same subscriptions to the same magazines. I get to read lots of different magazines now and as an added bonus, it's a built in way to ditch some of them