Friday, February 2, 2018

Buried ... and digging myself out

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

When I'm doing non-thinking work on my computer (uh, goofing off. But still work--like graphics, or spreadsheets), I often have Youtube on in the background. I went through all seasons of The Unsellables on New Year's Day. Lots of times the show you're watching segues into something entirely different. I watched (or rather listened) a bunch of RV remodels, farm house renovations, and a bunch of decluttering videos.  Decluttering and organizational videos are VERY BIG on Youtube. All of a sudden, I was subscribing to all kinds of stuff. But it was the organizational and decluttering that kept me riveted.

Nobody wants to be seen as a hoarder, but my office was beginning to look like its owner had become one. The worst offender? Boxes of stuff (like bookmarks, postcards, etc.) and piles and piles of paper.

Well, last week I'd had enough. I knew there was some valuable stuff in those piles of paper, and I decided to go through a four-inch stack. It took me about an hour, and the discard pile had only three pieces in it. That meant something was going to have to change. Little did I know I'd be in for three intense days of decluttering.

It started with my file cabinet. I had stuff in there that was fifteen years out of date. And the stuff piled on top of it was inches thick, too.  I ended up shredding years and years worth of bank statements and checks, and tossing two and a half recycling bins full of paper (just to I could file the stuff I wanted to keep--and I found more papers in my closet that were must saves).

It was The Messy Minimalist that said something that really got through to me in her Death Cleaning video.  Death Cleaning is a Swedish tradition where an older person goes through their things so their survivors won't have to do it. Rachel was in a similar situation to me. Her mother had died without going through her things, and she had no idea what it was her mother valued most. I still have a room full of my mother's stuff and haven't been able to part with it. Watching that video, and several others where she talked about her mother's stuff, gave me permission to part with things I know couldn't have had any real value for my mother. Who do you think taught me to love yard sales? I don't get as attached as she did to that stuff (I have the catch-and-release program, after all), but I was able to come up with three boxes of stuff to take to Goodwill. And I cleared out a huge bag's worth of clothes from my bedroom closet, too.

I had planned on having a garage sale this summer, but Rachel also addressed why she doesn't do that.  Time. She just doesn't have time ... and as Mr. L has been trying to tell me for the past year, neither do I.

It's hard to break old habits, but I'm trying not to let papers sit. I've got a little sign by my computer that says, "Don't put it down--put it away" and I've been trying to do that. (I'm also amazed how much tidier my kitchen is this last week.)

Do you have any decluttering or organizations tips to share?


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