Sometime in the fall, I got the insatiable urge to start organizing and decluttering my house. Maybe it was the cleaning Tik Toks I’m so fond of (they are so relaxing and satisfying), or the fact that our only child is leaving to go far away to college in the fall, or being irritated constantly that I didn’t know where things were or what we even had. But one day I just decided to make a list on the notes app on my phone of all the spaces in my house I wanted to address. Nothing was too big or too small to make it on the list. Sock drawer? Yes. Pantry? Hell yes. Take everything out of the home office, every paperclip and cord and blank cassette tape (omg) and look through every piece of paper in my personal files? Yuuup.
As a person whose motivation comes when it comes, and if I don’t take advantage of it who knows when it will come back, I leapt on this sudden energy. At least several days a week since I started, I’ve woken up, looked at my list, and gotten a jolt of energy and anticipation over that day’s project. Likely it’ll disappear just as suddenly as it came, but I’m hoping to get as much mileage out of it before that happens. I just completed my 52nd project (!!!) yesterday. I’ve been flabbergasted by how much lighter I feel by doing this. I no longer have the same feelings of being weighed down by my possessions and clutter the way I did before this. There’s also a lot more space mentally, to ponder and think and contemplate. Even though our clutter was mostly contained in drawers and cabinets and closets, I still felt its presence. Hiding it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Here are some things I’ve learned from this project that might help you if you’re thinking of embarking on your own project:
- I’m much more organized than I thought I was.
- But, I have too much stuff (we all have too much stuff).
- You don’t need fancy canisters or bins. The companies selling you fancy canisters and bins want you to think the fancy canisters and bins are the key to lasting happiness, but they aren’t. Start with what you have. Use containers you already own. Shoeboxes work great. You can always fancy it up later. Don’t buy more stuff in order to get rid of more stuff (see how crazy that sounds?)
- Start with a small project or two first. It will give you immediate gratification and a jolt of energy, and it’ll hopefully help keep you inspired.
- Take photos as you go and send them to people who will cheer you on. My friend Catherine has been my biggest cheerleader. As a person whose love language is words of affirmation, this is a huge motivator for me. If having a cheerleader isn’t what you need, figure out what *will* keep you feeling proud of your progress, and ask for it.
- If you need help getting motivated, another trick that works for me is using the “pairing” technique. Save a podcast or an audio book or your favorite music for when you are doing your projects. It’s like a reward.
- Have a list of go-to places where you can get rid of the things that no longer serve you. I have made huge use of our local Buy Nothing community on Facebook. Literally you can get rid of opened cereal that you realized you didn’t like. Or a beautiful pair of shoes. Or some twine. It’s amazing what you can keep out of the garbage with this community. I also have donated to a local organization that operates a thrift store to raise money to provide vital funding for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I’ve taken two carfuls of stuff there. I took two large tote bags of books to Half Priced Books. Food goes to our local food shelf (please no expired food).
- Don’t let perfect become the enemy of good enough. Those Tik Tok and YouTube videos are compelling, but it’s easy to think that your house also has to be perfect and idyllic for it all to count at the end. It doesn’t.
- Get ready to discover some gems you haven’t seen in a while. By clearing out a bunch of jewelry I never wore, I uncovered several pieces that felt new all over again and that I’m excited to wear.
- Keep a running list of your projects and check them off as you go along. Periodically go back and admire how far you’ve come.
I plan on embarking on a spring clean of the house as soon as warmer weather arrives. I’ll keep you posted!
2 thoughts on “My (Obsessive?) Organizing Life”
Great post!!! All true and it feels so good when you even accomplish one closet. I love your posts. Have fun at paddle. Will miss you all, but all is fine in Cali.
xoxo Hugs Mimi
Love and miss you Mimi!