Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Having a Good Clear-Out, Part 1

    I don't like admitting that I'm not the best housekeeper, but it's true.  When it comes to basic tasks - like cleaning up the kitchen after a snack, or going after the bunny-fuzzes in a dark corner - I'm easily distracted. In the extreme.  It isn't exaggerating to say that, if at the beginning of the day I start to put away a small collection of hair pins that has accumulated on my bed-side shelf, I could end up half-cleaning out the fridge before I remember that I forgot the garbage can in the pantry when I went to get toilet paper before I collected my stash of earrings and hair ties from mum's bathroom.  And at bedtime the hairpins are still sitting on my desk, where they landed before I emptied the trash.  I know I'm not the only one this happens to, but that doesn't really excuse my penchant for messiness, does it.

      There have been a lot of books written for people like me about how to keep a house clean and how to get things organized once the bunny-fuzzes are out of the way.  I've read a few of them, but so far my favorite bits of organizing/de-junking wisdom has come from Mindy Starns Clark's book The House that Cleans Itself.  I read the first chapter of her book here quite a while ago and decided her initial idea of drawing out a floor plan and labeling problem areas might take some of the frustration out of keeping my space clean.  Just being able to pinpoint where my messes were originating helped.  (In my room, its my bed: if my bed is unmade for as little as three days in a row the area begins to look like a cyclone blew through.  In the studio its my desk; if I don't make a point to shove my laptop under its shelf and keep my unpacking area cleared, 24 hours is enough to send all flat spaces in the room into a cluttered tail spin.)

   Twice a year - once after I finish my last lessons in the spring and again during the post Christmas holiday - I try to have a good clear-out.  Which is nothing more than a fancy way of saying, "I clean, de-clutter/de-junk and re-organize my space."  Turns out my mum was right when she told me (repeatedly) that, "if you put stuff away as soon as you're done, things won't get so messy - nor will things be as likely to be lost."  Go figure!
  Having gone back to my "normal schedule" today, I just finished one of these clear-out projects and thought I'd share a few photos with you.  If for no other reason than to prove that I'm so not perfect!  :)

      For a little perspective: this is what my studio usually looks like (when its tidy).  The view of the "front" door and my rocking chair when you first step inside . . .

       . . . and then my desk to the right.  The very cool, converted-from-an-old-piano-desk that my dad did so much work on for me over the past two years.  (Thanks daddy!)  I bought it from our church thinking we could get it done during that year's Christmas break from teaching.  Riiigggghhhht.  Had I known just how much work it was to disassemble a piano, I probably wouldn't have started in the first place.
(By the way mum, that piano to desk thing was a brilliant idea!)

      With everything that happened during the holiday break - and everything that obviously didn't - this is what it looked like when I started.  See, I told you I'm not perfect . . . .

      Unfortunately it gets messier the closer one gets to my desk.  (Hey!!  Did someone give me a Canon camera for Christmas that I didn't know about??!  How did that happen?)

    DAAAHHHHH!!!  What happened??!!  No, never mind.  It's better not to ask.  

    My method of taking back control of this chaos is fairly straightforward: get a big box (or two or three) and completely clean off the flat spaces.  In this case I had to borrow one of the crates my dad uses to lug milk home, since I couldn't find enough boxes.
    Usually I empty off all the small shelves, too, but this time I relaxed the rules a little: I knew there weren't going to be a lot of changes as far as my tea shelf went, so I didn't bother adding that to the confusion of the Pack Box.

            Don't worry if things look pretty empty when you're done.  Its supposed to.  I don't usually pull the walls bare as well, but mum gave me an adorable set of box shelves which I wanted up so I knew it was time the wall was re-designed as well.  (Pulling down the curtain and doing a sand/paint job on the wall would have been a good idea while I had things pulled apart - but that wasn't a during-holiday-project.  That's more like a full-week-during-summer project.)

      Once I have some work-space cleared I pull out the diagram of the last Zone chart I did - don't look too close because, really, I'm not the artist in the family.  And I sort-of figured asking Sharpi for story illustrations was more important than studio zone charts.  :)

      I'm always surprised at how much the floor lay-out changes in the studio, even though (with the exception of the desk) furniture doesn't get moved around a lot.  I take a few minutes to go over what I wrote down last time I de-cluttered as well as check the list of Upgrades that has been in process.  Then I get out two new pieces of paper and a note card.  On one I re-draw a basic, rudimentary floor map and assign numbers to my flat surfaces and storage areas; on the second I create two columns so I can list what I need in each area to make the best use of my space, and what I am allowed in each area to make it pretty.    The note-card gets set aside for later.

To Be Continued . . . . . . . .

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