They say success leads to more success. Often the most difficult part is getting started but once we find ourselves building some momentum on something, we find it gets easier and easier to achieve our goals. With some projects though, we fly out of the starting blocks at a full sprint only to find out that we’re actually running a marathon. Then we lose momentum. We can get stuck, or worse, abandon the race altogether.
The marathon example is how it feels when we’re decluttering. Lately, I’ve felt like we weren’t making progress. Not that there wasn’t more stuff to get rid of, but it was getting more difficult. There are some things I’m having a tough time removing from my life and the kids still refuse to let more toys go, even though it seems all they do is play video games. We also have some things identified that we are going to sell on the local Facebook group, but just have trouble making the time. I don’t want to post them for sale on a Friday if we’re not going to be available all weekend.
I finally found some renewed motivation.
About a month ago, we were going through some of our old textbooks still in the basement. We have an app on our phones called BookScouter, that we checked each book on to see if it was worth any money. We identified about 6 books that we might actually be able to get some money for and put them for sale on Amazon. If you’ve never sold used books on Amazon, give it a try. They make it very easy, although as we found out, you pay for that convenience when Amazon takes their fees out of the sale. They took about $8 in commission for a $38 book.
The Amazon Seller Central dashboard makes it easy to see all of the products you are selling. It will show you if you are the lowest price and if not, you can easily see what is the lowest. Then, you can quickly adjust the price to match the lowest one or set your own. When selling books, I suggest you read up on how to rate their condition so that you don’t mislead anyone. Pictures are a great idea too so that potential buyers can see exactly what they are purchasing.
In the end, we’re getting about $30 for the book. It was a little bit of a pain to pack it and take it to the post office on a Saturday morning, but we probably would have just donated it otherwise. It was a book we both used over 20 years ago for undergrad. Now, it’s out of the house and the sale has rekindled (Amazon pun intended) my motivation. Incidentally, I re-purposed a Barnes and Noble box to ship the book in.
If you’re interested in selling on Amazon, here’s the link to the seller homepage. There, you can get started by placing your products for sale and setting up you bank account information so you can get paid. Note that you can sell almost anything and not just books.
Getting money for stuff you don’t want anymore is nice, but just remember the goal isn’t necessarily to make money, it’s to make more room in your house.
That’s why I keep checking the seller page and have lowered the listing price for my books several times. Good luck and thanks for reading.
I recently started a new hobby because i think everyone should have at least one and until I started blogging I didn't really have any.
I have tried golf but still can’t figure out how anyone can justify blocking off 3-4 hours on a Saturday without feeling guilty you aren’t hanging out with your family. I was terrible at it anyway. I was better at brewing beer but again, it’s difficult to set aside a few hours in one block. I gave up on hobbies for years but reading about the health benefits to having some kind of relaxing activity in our lives (like here, here, and here) motivated me to find something.
You may know that I like books even though I keep talking about getting rid of more. When I was on a trip a few months ago I found myself wandering around O’Hare airport in Chicago with some time to kill. Naturally, I wandered into a small bookstore squeezed between two hallways and there I discovered some nice journals by a brand called Moleskine. I’m still not sure what it was about them that I liked so much but they were good quality and came in several different sizes and colors. I was tempted to buy one but the anti-stuff side of me teamed up with the travel-light voice and prevented me from doing so.
Later, I started thinking there’s no reason I couldn’t make my own. Why not learn a new skill and bind my own journals? Shortly after returning home, I picked up two books from the local library and looked through them for ideas and a supply list. It didn’t look that hard to cut, sew, and glue paper. As it turns out, one of the main stores in the country that sells bookbinding supplies is close by and I had no idea. If you’re interested check out Hollander’s store or website. You can also find a lot of supplies on Amazon.
So now, aside from the never-ending hobby of getting extra junk out of my house, I’ve turned my basement bar into a bookbinding station. Don’t worry, there’s still room to mix up a drink or pour a beer.
I didn’t have to buy that many supplies. I bought some special needles, a roll of waxed linen thread, an awl to punch holes, a good paper cutter, and a cutting mat. We already had a sharp hobby knife and a metal ruler although I’m already replacing them with better ones. I bought a stack of thick 9”x12” paper on Amazon.
Here’s a couple pictures of the first thing I made.
It’s nothing fancy. It's small at 4 1/2 x 6 inches but it fits in the side pocket of my backpack nicely. I made the cover from an old folder I had laying around and attached a bookmark made of the same folder. Right now, I’m making a smaller journal but the cover will be thicker and hopefully I’ll do a better job sewing this time.
I enjoy bookbinding and it’s usually very relaxing for me. I like the precision of cutting the paper and yet, the freedom that you can make pretty much anything. The book can be large or small, thick or thin, open spine or covered, plain cover or wrapped in paper.
The biggest irony of this all is that I hated art class when I was a kid. I thought it was a big waste of time sitting there coloring, painting, cutting paper, or whatever. I was never interested in any sort of art. I liked Math and Science and that was pretty much it. I remember missing many recesses in the first grade just to finish coloring some stupid picture that I didn’t complete during class time.
I still hate to color, but I have gained an appreciation for many other forms of art. Maybe it started when I went to bartending school and saw the beauty in a perfectly poured drink like a bloody brain (OK, maybe not the best example) or one of the variations of a pousse-cafe. Now, I appreciate the artwork in good photography, quality writing, music, and in a well constructed book.
I’m not saying everyone should start binding their own books, but you should try to find some activity that’s relaxing and exercises your artistic side. There's always knitting, crocheting, painting, and lots of other "-ings" to try. Pick one and give it a shot. If it's not for you, try another one.
I think most of us could stand to slow down more often and stop trying to multi-task. Maybe you can start by getting out your kids’ crayons and colored pencils and go make something.
We’re all desperately trying to find more time in our day. We find it in different ways but usually something gets sacrificed in the process - whether its sleep, a healthy meal, time spent with family, time spent doing our jobs, or time for ourselves. Maybe all of the above? My family is far from perfect at managing our time and I never seem to get enough sleep, but we do have a few tricks that help us keep our sanity and still get to piano lessons more or less on time.
Like I said, we’re far from perfect but we almost never eat fast food and we manage to eat dinner together at the table most evenings while still having our kids involved in a couple activities each. I hope that something here will help you tame your schedule a little so that you can enjoy some family time together too.
Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2018
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