This is pretty much where we left the Clear-Out on Monday: neatly boxed up and stacked on the couch. Sometimes if I get interrupted (or distracted!) the process can stall here for a day or two. This is why I do clear-outs during holidays instead of during a week when I'm meant to be teaching. :)
In my case it is usually best to start with the things that I need, and get them put away before I start looking at the space that is left. Just because I'm trying to be tidier and more organized does not negate the indisputable fact that I am still and forever will be a girl who likes pretty things. Just because I like pretty doesn't mean I always have room for pretty. Quiet often I end up asking myself why I'm keeping a thing - if it was a special gift from someone; has sentimental value; or can't be easily replaced I keep it. If it was something cute I picked up somewhere or other its a little easier to let go of.
If you look carefully, in the photo above you can see a small pile of something starting to crowd my work-sheets. This is the in-progress pile that happens when I know an item belongs in a specific zone but I'm not quite sure where to put it. My tea strainer and its green dish are a classic example: it should go on the Tea Shelf with the wee, three cup pot I usually use for morning tea . . . but there isn't room for it there. Do I clear a space on my desk so it is in close proximity to its pot, or do I make an effort to make a place for it? And the bowl that keeps my various chords from creating a tangle of technological umbilical is supposed to go on my desk - but all the shelves haven't been installed yet, so where should it temporarily belong?
Or this stack of notebooks. Logically it makes sense to have my kitchen notebook, the canning guide, recipe cards and my household notebook with the cook books I use (most often). Unfortunately, due to the physical layout of the studio, simply propping them up on the appropriate shelf isn't going to work without a sturdy pair of book ends. (Things have fallen off that shelf before, which resulted in a scarred instrument. I'd really like to avoid a repeat of that incident.)
Which brings us back to that blank note card we set aside last time. While the blank paper is for mapping and organized lists, the note card is for jotting down necessary Upgrades. For me, taking the time to de-clutter and re-organize isn't just an effort to battle the chaos I create: it is also an opportunity to recognize just how much I have and be consciously grateful for it. One of my goals in these clear-outs has always been a creative study in using what I have rather than buying something new. For example: I don't need a cute, new piggy bank for the change that routinely gets fished out of the bottom of my purse - an empty tea cup works just as well; I don't need a fancy desk organizer with pre-designated slots for more bits than I use on a daily basis - stuff a handful of pens and pencils in an empty jar that used to contain a candle and I'm good to go. (Not to mention, to keep the pens upright I got to fill the bottom of the jar with really cool glow-in-the-dark rocks that make me as happy as a five year old with a flashlight under a rigged couch-cushion and blankets tent. My mum has the coolest stuff floating around in her desk!) However, there are moments when, to make best use of my space, I need to buy something I can't re-purpose out of something I already have. Several years ago I realized purchasing a real letter-holder was the only way I was going to maintain control of the loose papers that were threatening to take over my desk. (The envelope box I was using turned out to be a container of the mess instead of an organizer.) When I realize I need to shop for something, the item goes on the Upgrade card so I know what I need to look for when I go shopping. So book ends it is. :)
Once I get all the important things, and the very special things :), put away, it all looks so nice. Okay, okay - so that view doesn't look all that different. As long as I keep the hope chest cleared off for students to put their cases on, it doesn't look much different
But this . . . ahhh. This desk is much nicer than the one I started with. A place for everything and everything in its place. Or, almost. :) There are a few things that ended up with temporary homes because of the desk shelf shortage - but I've made notes and will be able to adjust when the time comes.
A good dusting, and a whiz round with a vacuum, and, voila!! A very cheerful space is re-discovered.
Once I'm finished putting things away, there is always stuff left over.
This clear-out is no exception. One box isn't too bad and I should be able to be clear it out in short order. I have a feeling I'll keep about half of it and the other half will go. And once I'm finished - completely done, last box sorted and no accumulated clutter between now and then - the re-discovered tidiness will make me so happy. Actually, it already does. :)
Obviously, I haven't learned everything about keeping a tidy house. So I want to know . . . . what are your favorite tips, tricks and techniques to keeping your home clean and organized? What works for you? I'd like to learn something new. :)