Wednesday, June 27

Success Stories for 6-27

Enjoy these two messages from group members. Look for the riddle in the first message and enjoy the before/after photos from Fiona's post. Karen

I am having so much fun cleaning up! I tell you everyone should have to downsize , clean up a place to sell it and clear out their house every few years. Even though I wasn't home most of last week yesterday I cleaned out a kitchen drawer that was totally stuffed with a little of everything under the sun. I can't tell you how many pens there were, pencils that never get used, rubber bands, used get the picture. And, true confessions, I even bought some organizing containers on Friday but they didn't fit and I didn't let that stop me. After throwing a lot of it away, I was determined that I could find containers in my house to put the items in and in a surprisingly little amount of searching I did. Now it has a container for pens; one for scotch tape, masking tape and correction tape; one for my egg timer, note paper, small calculator and a couple misc. items; and one for chip clips and clothes pins. The open space has scissors and in the back behind the containers are marking pens that I hardly ever need.

Then I cleared out something that had 949 items in it but it made no visible difference after I cleared it out. This is kind of like a riddle, huh? Can you guess what it was?? ...................... My email in-box. I am sooo bad about letting that accumulate. I have decided to get it down under 50 and not let it get over that.

Well, my last entry was quite awhile ago when I cleared off the "big" stuff on my desk. Only trouble was I never got around to clearing the accumulating "little" stuff. A quick analysis of "how did it get this way" yielded an easy answer--When anyone in the house "tidies up" it goes on my desk. The mail that was on the kitchen table. The invitation that needs an RSVP. The dry cleaner receipt for picking up the comforter. You get the picture.

To add to this difficulty, we are considering re-vamping our home office into a children's room. Additionally, we have a small home in general, so there are many things that simply don't have "homes". This will be quite a big task. I needed reinforcements. A friend came over to provide "an intervention". She spent 3 hours with me and if you would have asked me if we would have gotten the amount of work done in that time period, I would have said there was no way. In fact, we did so much work, it would have taken me days to do it. Probably more considering I didn't do it by myself.

Like Karen said, it is difficult to make some decisions. For example, my bridal bouquet, which I love, has not aged well. I followed all of the directions my florist told me to, and it just didn't work. It was falling apart and started to mold! Instead of looking at the bouquet and reminiscing, I would look at it and think, "what did I do wrong?" having been so disappointed. Having my friend, Pat here, helped me to decide, it REALLY was not looking well. I have many treasured photos of me holding that bouquet, and those photos elicit a much more positive (and healthy) response! This started me thinking about other things that I was holding on to that didn't have mold that was visible, but that it was almost a symbolic mold. Something that didn't truly represent what it did some time ago. I threw the bouquet away and I have had no regrets, and I am not sure I would have been able to do that without my friend spurring me on!

I think the small bites philosophy is good and works in most cases. I needed a bigger push though to jump start the process. If you feel like you might need some help from a friend, here are some things to consider:

Establish clear goals up front discuss any philosophy differences. For example, do you want to work horizontally or vertically? Do you want to start with an area that is out of sight or within sight? Active listening is important. My friend started out by listening. I went through the whole house, explaining where I felt I needed more space and she simply listened. No suggestions - those would come later. Confidentiality. Especially in a home office, you are bound to come across things that are, well, considered personal. Neither of us would have been comfortable purging my tax file together! So things that were either too personal or too time consuming were set aside as a homework activity for me to accomplish later.
My friend went through things in the office that could be easily sorted and didn't require much decision making. Paperclips went with paper clips, post-its with notepads, etc. When she came across things that she felt might be potential tossables, she would ask me about them. For instance, the dried-out rubber bands I hadn't used in so long. This also enabled me to do my own separate sorting while she was doing this, so we got twice as much done. Karen asked me what was the most helpful way that my friend helped me. After considering this for a moment, it was just the fact that she was there. It made the time go quicker and she is a master of the raised eyebrow method! For instance, since I work in the schools, I end up receiving a lot of freebie tote bags. She pulled out 9 bags from the closet --all empty and taking up lots of space in a pile in the closet. She said, "Wow, these are a lot of bags!" I said, "Well, I don't think I could get rid of ALL of them." and she said, "No, you might not want to get rid of ALL of them." And then we got started. First we started with discarding the ones without zippers. Then closer inspection revealed that a few of the bags were not "pocket worthy". We got rid of ALL the freebie bags and only kept 2 bags which were high quality totes. These went inside one another and took up much less space.

The most important consideration--document short term and long term goals while your friend is still there to support you! I still have lots more work to do, but I have a clear action plan, which makes me feel like I can actually take action!

Happy Decluttering! Fiona