I worked in the garage yesterday.
I’ve been decluttering like a slow-and-steady madwoman since this blog began last August. And organizing things really isn’t my . . . well . . . thing. So the get-this-out-of-the-house-right-now-and-stick-it-in-the-garage technique has a few flaws. Because now, I have a mass of stuff to get ready for the sale. Oh, how I wish I could just open the garage and say, “Go for it!”
But decluttering can be fun, right? I ran across the video that I made for my husband (pre-husband) when I lived in Thailand and he was here. I wanted to show it to the kids for Valentine’s Day, but couldn’t find it.
As soon as that warm-fuzzy moment cooled off, I was back to being overwhelmed by the sheer hugeness of the task. But I kept chugging, and did make some real progress.
The thing that is most difficult for me is the “little piles.” Little piles happen when I’m going through the big piles, making progress, and run across something that I really should keep. Like hairbows, or scissors, or photographs. So I make a little pile. And when I finish going through the big pile, I feel this great sense of accomplishment until I glance down and see . . . the little pile.
Generally, the little piles take longer because they involve taking all of the little items to their homes, or to what should be their home. It is my goal to not add them to other piles, but sometimes I can’t help it.
The master bedroom has come so incredibly far. When the cousins were here this weekend, I even left the door open. The light was off, and in darkness it looked okay from the doorway. When I heard my son say, “Come in here!” I did let out a shrieking “No, not in there!” but hey, the door was open and that’s a big step.
But in one corner, over by my side of the bed, a pile is growing. It is the loose recipe and photo pile. It’s a monster. As I go through every other place in my house, I find photos and recipes stuck everywhere. EVERYWHERE, because they had no real home. And since it’s my goal for the year to find homes for everything, I have them in one big pile until I figure out what to do with them. The pile includes albums and notebooks, but this pile is truly big enough to be a 3 day project.
Then hubby got in on the sorting. Which is lovely. So very lovely. He truly does help, but then his “little piles” are more “little piles” for me to go through.
And I get overwhelmed.
Lenetta @ Nettacow says
I hear you. I worked on my laundry room yesterday (one of the "easiest" rooms in the whole house) and the stinkin' thing looked worse the harder I worked. Sigh. But you're a good reminder to get up and do some picking up, so off I go. :>)
I have this problem too. The reason is that we are remodeling our house. So everything is where it shouldn't be. The piles of papers are what gets to me. My first reaction is to just put it all in the wood stove………but there are important papers in there too. And that is where I get in trouble. Papers I need to send somewhere by a certain date are lost. I have had to pay two $50.00 fines so far to NY state tax office because I lost and forgot about the sales tax form. If it is not mailed back you get fined and the kicker was…..both times I had 0 amount of tax to pay!!!!!
Nony (A Slob Comes Clean) says
katlupe, I also despise papers! Totally relate to the urge to throw it ALL away.
Lenetta, to me that is the most difficult part in all of this decluttering, the moment when you look around and see that you've made it worse. But so many times, you have to do that in order to make it better.
I'm currently trying to declutter several areas and it's difficult because things from one area belong in one of the other areas that I'm decluttering! However, although it looks bad, it's better than it was before. I'll just keep plugging away at it and hope to be done by the time the school year ends in mid-June. We'll see…
Great that you've been making so much progress and even inspired your husband to join in. As to your problem….clutter builds up due to decision debt, and your 'little piles' are part of the same syndrome. As you've correctly surmised, the little piles are made up of unmade decisions and so are harder to deal with. Clearing clutter has to go along with organising what's left to some degree, otherwise things aren't any easier to find or use than before.
I'd suggest that you start creating 'zones' or 'workstations' in all your rooms, which reflect the way that you and your family each use the house… eg a reading corner with bookshelf, favourite chair and reading lamp, or part of the countertop where you always make sandwiches if that's a common task, where lunchboxes and sandwich bags and drink cartons are all to hand in one place. If you do that, then every time you come across something that's not in the correct 'zone' you can place it there immediately, and not be creating a new 'pile'. Your recipes need a folder to live in, in the kitchen where you can access them when you cook. Make a 'home' for things like this the second you see a certain category of things building up. The benefit of doing this is that your home will feel as thought it's enabling you to get all your common tasks done quickly and easily, and that will be an incentive to replace things in the correct zone when you've finished with them.
My other tip for you is to clear attics and closets first, so that you have somewhere clear to 'demote' stuff in each zone, and can do so easily and immediately. Hope some of that helps!
Paperwork is my Waterloo and I am older than you young moms (60 y.o). I have discovered wall files! They get things off a flat surface, can hold separate folders if desired.
I dare go so far as to say that wall files (I use the clear ones) are a blessing!
SLob with OCD says
Probably not much help to you since we're having this conversation in a time warp, and for all I know you've solved it, but one thing that has worked as I creep my way toward organization, is the idea of using containers as a temporary solution. You have to avoid the pitfall of thinking it's a permanent one, but I think that's more a patrack problem than a slob problem.
I used to throw things in bags when I was doing my heroic clean to get the house or a room ready for something. Then I wouldn't be able to find something for 6 months and it would turn up in the a bag, or I'd find a bag and discover 90% if what's in it should have been thrown away right away.
Once you do get to the point you got to, though ( a legitimate pile that represents a category you are collecting because it's worth keeping) grabbing a bin or bankers box, or cute paper box and sticking on a label that says "recipes" lets you keep the work you did, and not have it melt back into the other piles-believe I've straightened the same set of papers lots of times in my years of trying to reform. If the box is pretty you can even feel nice about it, until you get to it. That cures the all or nothing feeling.
Hi Nona 🙂 I found you about a week ago and have been reading you from the beginning. You’ve made such a difference to my attitude to our home I can’t quite believe the impact it’s made. I had to post even though I’m still way behind because my DH does the pile thing too! He said that the house has been so tidy he feels like he can/should tackle one of the hotspots. My inner perfectionist said Noooo! but then I figured that he could do some and I’ll do the rest ‘later’ when I’m ready to tackle it. It certainly couldn’t get any worse! Anyway, thank you for your blog, it’s been one lightbulb moment after another for me so far and I’m really looking forward to catching up 🙂
Argh! Nony. Sorry :s
To SLob with OCD: “Probably not much help to you since we’re having this conversation in a time warp…” I totally disagree with this! A couple weeks ago I started reading Nony’s blog from her first post. In the beginning I just read the post, not the comments. Then I began to read the comments as well. The comments are full of encouraging words and ideas no matter when they were posted! So, thank you for commenting when you did! I needed to hear what you said!