Friday, March 17, 2017

Clearing away the clutter

Wow, is it dusty in here or is it just me? I seriously can't remember the last time I was here. I think when I did come in, I'd turn on the light, take one look, feel overwhelmed and run out. And yes I'm speaking of the blog as well as my office.

Piles of paperwork that needed to be filed, bags of junk mail that need be shredded, clothes that needed to go to goodwill, unfinished projects, and basically just a lot of stuff. Stuff that had spilled from this room into every other room in my house. There's all kinds of studies that say clutter can lead to stress and I started to believe it, because I was experiencing it first hand. I couldn't get to my beautiful writing desk, because that's where bills and every other piece of paperwork would come to die. 

My closet was overflowing with too many clothes and shoes. I couldn't even see the floor of the closet because my shoes took over every inch of space. I kept telling myself I'd do something about all of it.... soon, but I never did. 

There was a constant shred pile on the corner of the dining room table, waiting for one of us to make a trek to the office. A plastic bag used to catch recyclables hung on the door to the basement, again, waiting for someone to take them to the bin in the garage.

One day I decided to work on my laptop at the dining room table, but, when I wasn't looking, the paperwork, had migrated to this room as well (probably because there was no more room on the desk). Along with it came magazines, catalogs, hats, gloves, bags, etc. And it wasn't just the dining room table. The breakfast bar and the kitchen island started to disappear too. 

I get the heebie jeebies when I see the show hoarders. Looking at my house - I started to get the heebie jeebies. Coming home every night, I would have to steel myself for the mess awaiting me. I'd take one look and any energy I had would immediately drain out of me. I couldn't believe how much the clutter and mess was affecting my life. I literally couldn't concentrate and things were beginning to suffer. Number one was my writing, which had become relegated to writing group one night a week and maybe a Saturday where I would run off to a coffee shop to force myself to sit and focus. Something had to give.

So I started searching for organization ideas obsessively on Pinterest. In the middle of all the posts one central them kept popping up - minimalism. Instead of just organizing your things, the idea is to learn to live with less. Downsizing, decluttering, capsule wardrobes - all catch phrases related to the minimalist lifestyle. I'm not ready to move into a tiny house, or get rid of all my books yet, but the whole concept sounded so very appealing.. I won't give a lesson on it here as I'm still far from the ideal minimalist. Search Pinterest if you're interested - seriously. 

Here's a quick list of some things I did accomplish/change in the past couple of months.
  • Donated 10 large trash bags of clothing
  • Donated 2 bags of shoes
  • Donated 1 huge trash bag of towels to the local SPCA 
  • Consolidated 2 trunks of bedding into 4 good sets that are stored inside of a pillow case for each one and kept in the linen closet (WHY was I keeping twin sheets when I haven't had a twin bed since college?)
  • Started a box in the basement where I randomly add books (some mind you), knickknacks, old picture frames, and kitchen paraphernalia (how many knives can one person use??) At the end of the summer it will go to our churches garage sale
  • Moved my remaining shoes off the floor and onto a closet shelf where they now sit in a beautiful row
  • Bought a super inexpensive cubbyhole  bookcase that is now stored on the bottom of my closet on it's side. I purchased $1 cloth bins that I put in them to store the remainder of my clothes. Everything fits perfectly and I have to tell you, I'm getting the itch to ditch some more of the clothes after winter is over.
  • Consolidated the contents of mine and hubby's old, beat up dressers so that we could downsize into a newer, much nicer dresser that we can share.
Once I started hubby was motivated to get in on the action. He cleaned out 2 junk drawers, a cabinet and 3 bags of clothes as well.

BUT some of the biggest changes were the simplest and most ridiculous. Ridiculous because it's hard to believe something so tiny could make such a big difference. 

  • We made a small spot in the closet by the back door. It holds a bucket and a bag for the recyclables. It's out of sight and when it's full we take it to the garage.
  • I installed a hook inside the closet of the backdoor to hang a bag for anything that needs to be shredded. Since this is where we open the mail it make perfect sense to have it right there. Junk mail immediately goes in the bag instead of on the kitchen table, island, my desk, kitchen get the point.
  • I employed hubby's carpentry talents to make a 3 tiered mail bin (yes I found the plans on Pinterest.) One slot is for coupons, ads and magazines, one is for letters, bills, anything that needs to be looked at, and the last one is for outgoing mail. He added some hooks to the bottom of it for keys, hat, umbrella, and garage door opener. 

Again, the simplest idea and yet it has made a world of difference in keeping the counters and most importantly, my desk, clutter free. The heebie jeebies started to take a hike and I started to write again. 

But after a few weeks I felt like I needed to do some mental decluttering as well....

I'll let you know how things are going in a few days :)

~ Adrienne

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