Sunday, March 12, 2006

paper clutter, new space

Before I get to my intended topic, I'd like to tell you something about my Secret Pal. This is the 7th SP project, where knitters with blogs get matched with others and spend almost 3 months spoiling each other. I recently discovered the identity of my SP - and also discovered that this blog has inspired her to start decluttering and blog about it! Peacock's blog has the clever title of Beyond the Frame - because she was careful to make sure the pictures she used on her fiber arts blog didn't show the clutter in the background! She is truly a sister in the struggle...

In next few weeks I'm going to concentrate on paper clutter. Gotta get the taxes done and this year I can't do the extension thing which I usually do since my daughter needs our tax information for financial aid applications.

So I might as well use this time to also do some heavy-duty decluttering in the realm of all the saved paper craziness, and some organizing that hopefully will make my paperwork life easier. I am working on a better system for bill-paying and recordkeeping for the family, which for the last few years has also included my mother. For monthly bill-paying, I'm trying out a variation of the system I found described here.

Meanwhile my son, who moved out last summer, has finally gotten almost all his stuff out of his old room, and my daughter is planning to move out soon to have a few months sharing an apartment with a roommate before transferring to a university in another city. Boo-hoo. Yahoo! Free, empty space; more room.... a wonderful and yet dangerous turn of events. If a clutterbug is not cautious, empty nest-freed rooms can become big junk drawers.

This brings me to the sliding block puzzle analogy.

You know those sliding puzzles where you try to make a picture or particular numerical pattern or shape out of a mixed up set of squares? These squares are fitted together in a larger square frame and you may move only one at a time. There is always an empty spot, so that you can move a square to move another square to move another...and so on.

There's some online, like this one: Get My Goat, a puzzle from 1914, in which you try to move a goat inside a fence - you should be able to solve it in 28 moves. (If you like these kinds of puzzles, I found it in the Classic Puzzle section on the Sliding Block Puzzle Page.)

If you're still reading and haven't gotten hung up on those puzzles, here's the analogy:
completed puzzle = my decluttered, organized household
empty square = Patrick's old room

Without that free space to use as things need to be shifted around to create some order, the task of decluttering is a zillion times more difficult. In fact, for me, it was nearly impossible. I have so much Stuff, there's no place that's clutterfree enough to use as the holding space while I get to Stuff that I can get rid of so I move back the Keeper Stuff....and so on. (This analogy is sister to The Old Woman and the Pig analogy.)

This lack of a free space has been a huge obstacle for me, producing that cycle of overwhelmedness/inertia. For awhile, I tried figure out how I could utilize my storage unit that I use for my book business, but I was reluctant to put it to a personal use since it's a business expense.

I also saw big red flags in using a storage unit, both from the standpoint of it being inconvenient and from the possibility of suffering the Out-of-Sight-Out-of-Mind Syndrome. (And I've seen those Hoarder Horror Tales, those who really have it bad fill up their homes then rent storage units and fill them....shudder...)

So, here's what I plan to work on: Patrick's Old Room (which we eventually see as a computer/library/guest room). Since he originally moved out, I've started to use the room to store some yarn and bins of my finished fiber work, as well as a place to keep the printer my daughter and I use for our laptops. My husband would really, really like to have some bookshelves in there - his own (incredibly neat) home office bookshelves are overcrowded and he'd like to have a place to display all the running trophies he's been winning - one of which he just acquired on Saturday---way to go, dear!!!

Friday Patrick and a friend came in and took out the last of his furniture.
For now my goal is to make the room functional, both for our intended use of it and as my free space in the grand decluttering puzzle I'm working.

Here are pictures of the room as Patrick left it on Friday, all my stuff piled helter-skelter:

I did begin work on this yesterday and am about halfway through. Took me awhile, as the dust was so bad it aggravated my asthma. I need to remember to wear a mask when I get into places that haven't been cleaned in awhile!

I'm very excited about having this space and using it wisely!



Blogger Peacock said...

I so completely relate to the sliding puzzle problem!! (boy was I good with those when I was a kid... but give me three dimensions and puzzle pieces I care about and everything seems a lot more tricky!)
(ooops.. I just lost fifteen minutes to the goat. drat.)

The sliding puzzle is one I think of often when I'm doing housework! .. I think I'm making progress, but then I have to move something out of the spot it seems to belong in to make something else work... argh!

You've definitely set off a theme for the day, though. Must look at all the little puzzle pieces that just aren't fitting together because something else is in their spot!


1:09 PM, March 13, 2006  
Blogger jackie said...

I can SO relate to the sliding puzzle syndrome. In fact that has been the anolagy that I have been using to describe my house for years. 8 in fact. Since I lost my craft room to my twin sons.

The back shed has always been like that. And now when we get a few square feet cleared, hubby brings home more stuff/junk (depending on who you are talking to).

Good luck with your reacquired space! I know that you will do just fine with it.

9:48 AM, March 15, 2006  

Post a Comment

<< Home