Recently on the Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin asked,
That didn’t take much thought – getting the house decluttered and these piles gone would make me soooooo happy.
Now, I want to enjoy my accomplishments also. I’ve decluttered quite a bit since the beginning of the year when I set this as a 2012 goal. Our little extra room in the attic got cleaned early on. I didn’t think to take a before picture, but here’s how it still looks now. Before I decluttered it, you could barely walk to the bike and that was all you could do. The floor was deep in wall to wall stuff and junk. It looks pretty good, eh?
I’ve kept up on the piles of paper coming into the house. I cleaned out our master bedroom closet. I also cleaned out the pantry, getting rid of old and unused items. Unfortunately, I had to do a second time after it got all messed up. I’ve been more diligent in keeping it straightened up since the second cleaning, but I think it could use another clean again.
Let’s see – what else have I done since January? I made inroads in organizing my home computer photos and documents. I cleaned out files and the fileroom at work. That felt good and it was nice to not have the files so crammed in.
But I haven’t made much progress on the old piles and it’s frustrating me. I WANT THEM GONE GONE GONE. It helps to do this with some company to keep me amused and provide short breaks for lovin’.
So a few weekends ago when it was lethally hot out, I spent the weekend working off and on trying to tame more piles. I realized that huge stack of magazines in my office had no place to go if I wanted to keep them. I know this is not going to sound very profound, but I really had to start small if I was going to accomplish this.
I decided that one of the shelves in my office had stuff that could be mostly tossed out. I had literature from our move to Virginia that was no longer applicable. There were old Photoshop magazines to toss, outdated because of the changes in the software in the last few years. I also got rid of tourism information from other states we lived in. If we ever go back, I’ll replace it then.
With a free shelf, I went through the magazine piles on my table and floor. Many went into a pile to go to a friend. A few more got tossed. Ultimately, I cleared a big area on my table and floor between the magazines and reshelving books that I was done reading. I could spend hours sorting through my books, so I resisted that and only evaluated the books I was putting away.
I also cleaned a bookshelf outside my office. I’d never transitioned the books to it as planned and it eventually became another pile of stuff. I put away old receipts, office supplies, stuffed animals, some pantry items (I keep an overflow pantry upstairs), and a bunch of other things.
It’s easy to get derailed with this kind of project, at least for me. I hate doing it and I dislike trying to figure out what to do with all of it. What should I keep, what should I toss, what will or will not be important later. One of the things on this other bookshelf was 5 years of my Dayrunner daily calendars. Five years! I think they got pushed around since we moved in here and eventually accumulated in a corner.
I’d put rubberbands around them, which were already sagged or broken. I’ve never been able to get rid of these and have them going back 15+ years in the unfinished part of the attic. I still can’t stand to get rid of them. They have no value. The phone calls, questions, and projects are long done and stale, even the ones from just a year ago. If my notes were important enough, they were copied or scanned and put into a permanent project file.
But each time I open up my daily sheets, I’m transported back to work, what I did, who I worked with, my joys and frustrations in the workplace.
So I got my cooking twine and tied them up into a sturdy bundle, got a storage box out and put them in the unfinished half of the attic with the other ones. Someday I’ll toss them, but not today. I didn’t want to stop decluttering to argue with myself why I didn’t need to keep them any longer. That’s an argument for a different day when I’m not getting rid of so many other things.
Each time I left the room – to get a box, go up to the attic, whatever – the beagle followed me. He’s not too big on cuddling, but he’s great on staying in the room and being there with me.
He’s also a restless sleeper and changes positions every 10 minutes or so. At one point, he took over the easy chair. I don’t think he looks very comfortable, but he didn’t seem to notice.
I made a huge dent in the piles. There’s still a lot to go, but I’m happy to have some working room and to have cleaned off the table and floor at least. I haven’t done much since this weekend. Between going to Atlanta and doing regular chores the other weekends, it wasn’t a high enough priority.
But framing this question to myself – what resolution (successfully kept) would make me that happiest – plus some success with this goal, is helping keep me motivated to stay after it.
How about you? What resolution do you need to work on that would make YOU the happiest?
I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at www.livingtheseasons.com.