While waiting for an appointment yesterday, I came upon an interesting book called One-Minute Organizer Plain & Simple by Danna Smallin. Leafing through it, I found some excellent quick tips for cleaning out clutter and getting my home (and life) in order. I attempted to capture its wisdom with my tablet, first by taking pictures of the pertinent pages. When that proved horrendously cumbersome, I tried to jot down notes on my tablet, only slightly less horrendously cumbersome. I would have used the old tried-and-true pen-to-paper method, but had no paper.
After mentioning the book to my therapist (the appointment), she told me to take it with me. So I did—with the intention of returning it after I’ve reaped its beneits.
The book is much like Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and other inspirational books, with little tidbits of help on every page.
The first chapter is titled “Getting Started.” It discusses the importance of goals, consistency, accountability, and rewards. For me, one tip stands out from all the others: take care of today’s mess. Tackle those chores that need to be done regularly, such as the daily mail, dishes, and laundry. To those, I would add email and paying bills.
That tip was a light-bulb moment. My to-do lists have always been about “keeping up” and never about “moving forward.” Just that one sentence has changed my thinking. Now I can separate those things I need to do every day from those things that will help me reach my goals.
I’ve addressed today’s mess, having cleaned and put away the dishes, folded and put away the laundry, and dealt with the mail. Tomorrow, the goals!
I survived the home appraisal! To celebrate, I took a break from the decluttering schedule for most of the week. But I did make a date for a couple to help me remove some of the larger, heavy items from my living room.
Yesterday I jumped back into my schedule of cleaning two rooms for 15 minutes each twice a week. You know what that means? More found surprises!
Seven More Items Found While Decluttering
A pasta bowl set from Crate and Barrel, the kind that consists of a serving bowl and four pasta dishes. I don’t remember buying it and I’m not sure why I would. I already have a pasta set I love which I bought in Italy. Maybe I bought it for a wedding gift?
More old Mary Kay cosmetics. I think I’ve now thrown out all of them. It only took five or six large trash bags!
A package of scrapbooking paper. Since I’ve decided to create some memory books of my parents, I’m going to see if anything might be useable. If not, out it goes.
A nearly full box of high-quality paper for resumes and cover letters. I’ve had the paper, and the matching envelopes, for over 20 years at least, possibly as long as 33 years—that’s ⅓ of a century! They’re going out for recycling pickup.
The board game Clue. I think I tried giving it to Goodwill once, but they wouldn’t take open board games. Since Clue is my favorite game, I’ve decided to keep it. (For now.)
A bag of yarn with a partially knit sweater on a broken needle, along with a book of sweater patterns. Sorry, organization gurus, it’s staying. I’ll reuse the yarn. And I love knitting patterns—something I have in common with Albus Dumbledore. 😉
A picture of me watching the sunset on a beach in Carmel, CA. My best friend took another picture with me facing the camera. It was a lovely photo, especially since I’m not particularly photogenic. I gave it to my parents who kept it by their telephone for many years. After their deaths, I retrieved it and eventually gave it to a guy I thought might be “The One.” Turns out he wasn’t, and the creep didn’t return the photo.
And the list doesn’t include the several large cardboard boxes I broke down for recycling. I thought about keeping them to us for hauling things to Goodwill. But I’d prefer to just get them out of the house.
I love that song by The Fixx. I have the CD… somewhere. You see, sometimes I can’t find what I’m looking for because I have too much stuff. Among other problems, this creates…
CHAOS. That’s FlyLady‘s “Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome.” I’m not a hoarder, per se. In general I don’t have trouble letting go of things. The problem is it’s physically demanding to get rid of the junk. I live on the top floor of a walk-up condo; we have trash pick up only 2 days a week; we’re not allowed dumpsters in front of the buildings. All this makes trash day very taxing, what with numerous trips carrying heavy trash up and down three plus flights of stairs. Plus, where do I store the trash while waiting for trash day?
It’s reached critical mass because…
I’m refinancing my mortgage. And unfortunately, I need to have an appraisal. At last fear of the inevitable has spurred me to…
Tackle my two worst rooms. The guest room has been used as general storage for far too many years. It’s become impassable with Christmas decorations, old Mary Kay cosmetics (I was a “personal use consultant” with with thoughts of selling that never panned out), unused area rugs (rolled up), old clothes, a very old bicycle, and plenty of other unknown stuff. The room I use as my office is chock-a-block (but passable) with papers, photos and photo albums, sewing material, extra furniture, more. old clothes, games, and… Do you really need me to go on?
I’d like to say I’m devoting 15 minutes a day to each room. But the truth is, those 15 minutes generate enough trash to fill up my staging area and create at least 5 trash-day trips. So for now it’s 15 minutes twice a week. But it’s progress.
[P.S. The photo is not of my home. It’s from GoDDess GrOOve, with modifications, of course. 😉 ]
It’s been four weeks since the shopping embargo went into effect. Interestingly, I’ve had fewer total temptations in the last three weeks than I had in the first week, It may have been because I wasn’t watching as much shopping television, but I also believe I began to break a vicious cycle. That’s not to say I wasn’t tempted. But what tempted me wasn’t jewelry or clothes; it was skin care—products I like and use that were specially priced (i.e., on sale). But I have a backlog of skin care products, and I’ve learned that special pricing occurs all the time.
So, I’ve been successful! Now comes the part I have to word carefully to avoid negativity. (Many women tend to qualify their successes, i.e., “I completed my goal, but…” It defeats the positive self-talk we try so hard to achieve and lessens the value of our successes.) I’ve not brought anything new into the house, with the exception of a new cat litter box. (It was necessary because one of the cats began protesting the non-clumping litter I’d accidentally bought.) Now I need to start getting rid of the useless items.
So I’m going to extend the shopping embargo for at least two weeks. And I’m adding the goal of removing items destined for the trash, Goodwill, Freecycle, etc. Since I need a quantifier, how about 3 times per week? Two trash days, and one day for Goodwill items. And how about one Freecycle item as well? Is that too much? I don’t want to set myself up for failure by doing too much. But really, that’s not very much, is it?
One of the blogs I’m incorporating here is Ms. Pack Brat. I started it to chronicle my attempts to clean up and declutter my home. I’m not a hoarder, per se. It’s more that I’m too lazy to get rid of what I don’t need or use. (There’s an element of physical labor involved, as I live on the top floor of a walk-up condo and some things are too big or heavy for me to lift and carry.)
Multiply that with being a shopping channel junkie. I watch them for entertainment, but then I’ll see something that will (supposedly) make my life easier and more organized. I end up with too much stuff, and a load of cardboard boxes.
When the cleaners come, they have to work around a lot of junk I haven’t removed. This week was a little worse than usual as I’ve been on a buying jag lately: new printer, new phones (cell and land line), new Nook, new wine glasses, clothes, yadda yadda. So, when the cleaners left, I vowed not to buy anything (except grocery and drug related items) for four weeks.
It took less than 2 hours for temptation to strike, in the form of blue, bejeweled, adorable sandals. Here’s the thing(s): I have a narrow foot, which these do not come in. And, I don’t even like thongs. Yet, I seriously wanted to buy them. Just because they’re so darned cute. And on sale.