Starting over: Day 1

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I pulled this mess from behind the door to the room, where it was keeping me from opening the door completely.  It toppled over as I was photographing it, but truthfully it didn’t look much neater where it was.  I’m following the Flylady rule of not pulling out more than I can put back in the time that I have.

How this is hard: I had a week off work unexpectedly and resolved to use the time to clean out my study so I can use it to write and work.  Monday and Tuesday went by and I found myself doing other things that just seemed so important.  Some were, and some certainly were not.

Resistance is a funny thing: It’s less a refusal than a kind of numbness, all the more lethal because it’s insidious.  I didn’t wrestle with myself about decluttering – I just kinda sorta never got around to it.  No drama, but the result is the same as a slow morphine drip: bury myself in trivial tasks and sudden emergencies until the day ends.  And days can stretch into years. 

I took the bull by the horns at 10:30 last night and set a timer. 15 minutes seemed like too much:

“I’m tired,” Stuck Me whined. 

Accomplished Me knows how to handle this:  “OK, how about 10 then? 5? 1? Can you declutter for 1 minute?”

One minute was too shameful even for me, so I chose 5 and went to work, just to break the ice for today’s attempt.  I found an Apple Gift Card and cleared off a 1×1 section of desk.

“That’s one more 5-minute section than if you hadn’t done it,” Accomplished Me said.  Even Stuck Me has to admit that if I had done 5 minutes even 3x a week over the past year the room would probably be pretty clean by now. 

Another reward:  much less resistance today.  Feeling pretty good – let’s see how it goes with the pile in the photo.  But first I’m going to vacuum the floor where it was, to give myself something tangible.
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There’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip

Dropped the ball for a few months, but this is my week: I’m cleaning everything out of my 10 X 8 study that I don’t need.  I have an involuntary week off work and I’m using it to make a better space for me to do my work in.

So the schedule for the week:
5:30 a.m. Arise; centering prayer; make bed
6:00 Medicine, start coffee, take dog out, cats, chickens, birds
6:30 Breakfast
6:50 Write 500 OR to Mass; Dialogue
7: 40 Back from Mass, write 500, dialogue;
8:00 declutter
9:00 check email
9:30 declutter
10:15 rest
10:30 declutter
11:15 rest
11:30 declutter
12:15 rest and check emails
12:30 answer emails
1:00 lunch
1:20 declutter
2:15 Rest
2:30 declutter
3:15 rest
3:30 declutter
4:15 rest
4:30 begin dinner
6:00 answer emails
6:30 housework, blessings
6:40 rest, read, weed whateve

Ummm, ‘scuse me? I know it was my husband’s grandmother’s and all, but IT’S BROKEN!!!!

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Yes I am throwing it out. No, I do not have the missing piece. Not, I do not give two shits if I might later find it. Right, because no matter how campy tacky-adorable it is and no matter how cool it looks in my new blue back porch, I do not want someone’s glued or broken tchatchke in my life. If I need a hideous campy vase I’ll go to the so-called antique store and buy one from the other delusional hoarders – oops I mean dealers.

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You were cute. NO, IT CANNOT GO IN THE HENHOUSE! Goodbye.

PreTax Decluttering

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I actually filed for an extension on my taxes because the clutter was so bad. This tub holds a pile of stuff that had been on my kitchen counter for years. I swept it into the tub about a year ago. That was a good move: I was able to start baking again because I could get to my mixer and bread machine. But there was a spindle with receipts and a bunch of tax papers in here and I never got to them. Today, my goals are to 1)toss any trash in this box 2) Extract any tax papers that are in here and put them in the tax folder. I only have about an hour so let’s see how I do. The challenge will be to not get distracted by folders and a box of photos I know are in there.

Here’s how I did:

Desk, September 21, 2012: Lessons About Paper Handling.

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Before

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After 2 hours

OK, it doesn’t look like a lot for 2 hours of work, but if you look carefully to the right of the chair you can see a whole big pile of papers is gone. That’s the problem with papers – it takes a while to go through them, and the results don’t look like much. This is where patience and dedication come into play.
If put important and unimportant papers into the same pile “for now” then the risk that I’ll toss something important is real, and I will be sentencing myself to the drudgery of having to go through them carefully in the future.
Lesson: DON’T mix unimportant and important papers together. Get rid of the unimportant papers daily. File the important ones. Make a list if I’m afraid I’ll forget but for God’s sake don’t pile them together as a way of “remembering.”
In hoarding, “someday” and “when I get a chance” never come!

Day 3: Clearing a Work Space, Sept. 19, 2012

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How can I plan a class in this mess?

OK, I didn’t get into this mess overnight and it’s not going to get cleaned up in a day. My strategy is to to clear a usable workspace first, so that I won’t have to work in the living room or bedroom anymore.
The office has two desks. The regular one is piled a couple of feet deep with crap, so I decided to tackle the computer desk. Last year I cleared it off (mostly) and sorted a bunch of files for my lectures, separating and tossing the old material. That’s pretty much where the current folders stayed after the class ended, but mostly everything on the desk is teaching-related. So that seemed like the most promising place to start. The picture above is the “before:” how it looked when I walked in there.

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After thirty minutes, not much improvement. What you can’t see is a bunch of stuff I recycled.

I set a timer and got to work. I told myself I would declutter for 20 minutes, then work on my lecture. Typically for me, I got sidetracked and started mixing the two jobs together. I started going through a tub on the floor where I had dumped class-related stuff during an earlier pass at the room in August.
So after 30 minutes, as you can see from the second picture, it didn’t look like much. It’s OK though, because I had located some important papers – like the texts of next week’s lectures! I continued to put them in piles that made sense, and I threw away a whole bunch of surplus papers. At this point it’s important to congratulate myself for going in there and working at all, even if I’m not doing it very well yet.

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I found my lecture, filed some stuff, put some papers in order, and left the desk ready for the next day’s work. Total time about 2 hours.

 

 

I had to stop decluttering and prepare for class, but at the same time I was able to put the papers in something like an order, ready to be worked on the next day. After a couple of hours it looked pretty decent. It’s inviting, and I know where I need to start the next day. That’s important too. Hooray for me! I’m eager to come back the next day – let’s see if I do it.

Day 2: Computer Box and the Downward Arrow

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Yeh, I did it. I got rid of the hoarder fetish item, the computer box.  How did I talk myself into it? I used a technique from Buried in Treasures called “the Downward Arrow.”  Basically you or someone else helps you to explore the logic of your thinking about your possessions so you can make a mindful decision about keeping or tossing.
Here’s how I did it, with the help of my husband:
Me:  My computer is four years old, but I’m afraid to get rid of the box. What if it breaks and I need to ship it for repairs, and I have no box?
Dearly Beloved: What would happen if you had to ship it and you had no box?
Me:  Well, I could take it to the Apple Store for repairs.  But what if they needed to send it out?
DB:  Well, what would happen?
Me:  I guess they have ways of wrapping them.  Im sure it wouldnt be the first time a customer brought in a machine without a box.  Maybe they would only need to send a part.  But what if I needed to sell it? What if we had to move?
DB: You know we’re not moving.
Me: Yeh, that’s unlikely.
DB: When have you ever sold a computer?
Me:  Umm, never.
DB: What would be so bad about that, if you had to sell it without a box?
Me:  Well, I guess I could find other materials to wrap it in. I’m pretty resourceful. But it would be more desirable if it had its original box. And what if I had to ship it?
DB: What if you did?
Me:  Well, I guess I’d just have to sell it locally.  We do live in a well-populated area, so I’m sure I could find a buyer nearby.
DB:  If you ever really did need a box there are shipping places that will even do it for you.
Me: OK, I made up my mind: I’m tossing it.

Guess what?  It feels really good to not have to walk around that giant box.

Update, Sept. 16:  It’s still outside and I’m SO not tempted to take it back in.  It still feels great!