Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Future Self: Home Office Excavation

It's time. My hoarding and disorganization are badly effecting my ability to get anything accomplished, both physically and mentally. In five years, my home office has become a dumping ground, a safety hazard and a dead zone wherein nothing can happen because I can't find anything I need. Psychologically, the mess is overwhelming and enervating. I bought two audiobooks to help me with my issues, Throw Out Fifty Things (written and narrated by Gail Blanke) and The Hoarder in You ( by Dr. Robin Zasio; narrated by Cassandra Campbell.) I listened to the former a couple of years ago, never got around to reviewing it, planned on re-listening to it in order to poss a review and, then said, "Screw it." I remember it wasn't that helpful to begin with only because it presumed a greater level of organization in your home that I had and, it was more of a motivational spiel about how to de-clutter your life. Also, it was full of well-intentioned and highly suspect examples that I took issue with. Plus, there's something weird about Gail Blanke's voice delivery (dentures? lockjaw? what?) I haven't gotten around to listening to The Hoarder in You because I'm that disorganized now. Blogging deadlines are slipping past me and, combined with unreasonable blogging goals that extend into my personal life, I've created a hole, jumped into it and now I can't figure out how to get out of it except to say "Stop." I need to take a deep breath, assess what I need to do, what I can do, and take the time I need to get myself together. One of the things I need to do is get my home office excavated. This project I'm estimating will take about three or four months. Yeah, that's right, not a week-end project by any means!

Today I've posted a picture of one corner of my home office, representing only a tiny fraction of the mess I'm in! And this is what I'm doing about that corner:

Throw out the trash: There's a small waste basket underneath my desk. Because I'm a hoarder, I don't actually throw a lot away at all. As a result, the trash that's in there can have been sitting there for weeks. Alright, the trash goes out and I put a reminder on my calender to throw it out every Monday and take out the garbage (pick-up is on Tuesdays) whether or not the trash basket or the garbage can is full.

The Classics that are stacked on top of the harmon/kardon woofer on my desk? See them? It's under the Girl Scout sash! The Classics get moved to a bookshelf in the living room. Ordinarily, I wouldn't put paperbacks out; but the covers and spines are nice enough looking this shouldn't pose an aesthetic issue. The Girl Scout sash goes back into storage in a bin under the bed. The bin isn't as airtight as I would like; but I'll deal with bedroom stuff later, hopefully this summer. Wow, there's actually more light coming in now that I've cleared away that stack away from the window!

The piece of cardboard on top of laundry is actually a very detailed drawing my daughter made as a birthday card for me one year. I'm fascinated by her highly stylized cats and dogs and am determined to keep this gift around. I've stacked it along with some lithos, posters and mirrors on the floor (to the left of the book case - you can catch a glimpse of a poster tube in the corner) for now. Once I have some floor space in here, I'll be able to bring in a stepping stool or ladder to put up some wall decor.

The dry cleaning: The first few items you see on the pile of clothes are actually clean. I've put them on plastic hangars and hung them up in my daughter's closet for now. Eventually, I will upgrade to wooden hangars and move them into the closet that is in this room (but that I can't get to because of stuff obstructing the way. The sweaters all go into a big plastic bag that will live in my car for the next few weeks. I can't afford to get them all dry-cleaned at one time, so I will pull out one sweater a week until all are done. As the sweaters are cleaned, they'll be stored in the master bedroom closet.

The brown envelope on the floor next to the laundry basket contains material from the Books on the Nightstand Readers' Retreat in 2011. One thin I forgot to tell y'all is that I'm also a sentimental girl! I like souvenirs and errata from my travels and experiences. I'm not much of a scrap booker though. I'm not an "arts-and-crafty" kind of person, go figure. Anyway, I decided to shelve the envelope with the books written by the authors from the retreat (yes, there is a special BOTNS Retreat Shelf!)

Books on the floor: Oh boy. This is only one of the floor piles of books that take up space in my office; but the only one I'm going to tackle today. These are all books that qualify for the various challenges I've signed up for this year. Since Thanksgiving, I've been pulling books from the shelves and sorting them into categories. Hmm, see that cube shelf with one book (Jane Austen's Seven Novels) on it? The hardback gets re-shelved with my copies of Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility and a DVD of Persuasion and the cube is now double shelved with the books from the floor. Three books couldn't fit vertically, so I've popped them on top horizontally. As these books are read , some will go back on the shlelf, others will goto the hardback shelves in the living room, others will go to the non-fiction shelves and, others will be donated. to the Friends of the Library.

Dirty glass: No brainer. Goes to the sink in the kitchen to be rinsed out before going into the dishwasher.

Hidden objects: So far I've turned up 11¢, an Ann Taylor barrette/hair clip, a giant office clip and, two Post-It notes with outdated scribbles on them. The loose change goes into my daughter's piggy bank, the hair clip goes to live with other hair accoutrements that I own, the giant office clip goes into my top desk drawer and the Post-Its get thrown away.

As I was working, there have been some seismic shifts in my office! That Other Press tote bag as well as the papers that you see in the bottom right right corner of the photo have been swallowed up into the paper mess/vortex in the center of my room! Alright, I'll deal with all that when the time comes. In the meantime, this is the "after' photo of the same corner.

Relatively speaking, it's not much; but it's start!

See also:
Mount TBR Challenge 2012 (Letter of Intent wherein I mention why I hoard books)
Epiphanies 2011 ("My Future Self")


  1. Not much? That's an exceptional bit of progress - good on you! Hmm, you might have inspired me to declutter my studio.

  2. Well done! It's a great feeling when you have "ullage". Cute that you have a BOTNS retreat shelf :-)

  3. Congrats on taking control and creating such a magnificent seismic shift in your office! I'm sure you'll find that you will draw energy from your new space and become more creative while you are in there.

    A few months ago, I wrote a blog post that outlines 5 tips for combatting clutter. I've learned these points from watching TV shows like "Hoarders", "Clean Sweep", and"Clean House", as well as from reading Peter Walsh's books. If you don't get around to listening to the audiobooks, you might find a useful tidbit here:

    Best wishes for the continuation of your already successful excavation!

    Karen Commins