Monday, February 27, 2017

Diagnosis of a Clutter Relapse

I’ve relapsed.

The symptoms are obvious: stuff is sitting in the middle of my floor. Stuff has taken over my lovely, uncluttered and well-organized space. How’d it get there? Where’d it all come from? What is it?

    Some are in process, so their junk has legitimate ownership of the floor. One has been completed and can get put away. One is income taxes and will soon get put away. A few others are between start and … decision-making. Somehow they ran aground, lost momentum, needed further processing. They’re in a holding pattern.

They need triage: Abandon and toss? Do the next identifiable step? Wait for illumination?

You see the problem, of course. It’s that “wait for illumination” phase. Projects are like that.

But if I apply the Marie Kondo rule – “keep only what sparks joy” – then I must admit, some projects just don’t do it. I’m not joyful about their state of incompletion, and I’m not sure I’ll be joyful about their completion either. It’s time to be relentless. My computer has a Force Quit option; I have to Force Finish or Force Quit.

    This is easier. I have acquired – yet again – potentially useful things in great quantity. The plastic containers that hold Costco mushrooms are PERFECT for mixing paste and assorted solutions for projects. I can’t bring myself to throw them away. I have a dozen of them. Okay, they’re all going to be donated or recycled tomorrow. I won’t even tell you what else fits in this category.
The pile of stuff I couldn’t figure out what to do with a year ago
  • The cacao bean roaster I bought in Ecuador because it was incredibly cheap, lovely terra cotta, and was from our chocolate-making class. I do not roast cacao beans.
  • The brass samovar from my mother’s house that is terribly tarnished and needs to be shined before I decide what to do with it. This would count as an incomplete project except that I know ahead of time that I won’t know what to do with it once it’s done because it is sentiment vs. I-will-never-want-to-keep-something-that-requires-polishing.
  • The audio cassettes that I decided to keep because I still have a cassette player, but when the stereo got its new receiver, the cassette player developed a bad buzz but I didn’t test it until the Geek Squad guy had left and now I’m not sure what to do with it. This is a perfect example of a project running aground. It becomes so convoluted you give up … but the debris still remains.
This category may ultimately resolve itself because its persistence over time is making all of them Weights. They steadily leak Joy. I will probably rejoice when they get off my desk. If I don’t have to look at them, I may forget that I ever owned them. I have to grit my teeth and deal with them.

    There are three kinds of paper on my desk:
  • Things to look at but not yet looked at

  • Things to do with but not yet done with

  • Things I don’t know what to do with

I rip bits out of magazines: links to look at, podcasts to check, interesting tidbits I want to remember or pass on. They hang out for a while; mostly until I can’t remember why I clipped them.

Right now, most of the papers on my desk have to do with finances. Post-election, I know I have to do something, so I’ve been looking at statements, reading reports, collecting articles. But, like the audio cassette player, I have reached the limits of my personal knowledge and expertise. I simply don’t know what to do.

What I do know: how much I loved my clean, empty-ish space

What I need to do: reclaim it

looking at it! Grit teeth, Force Finish or Force Quit, give away, remove, recycle.

Relentlessly. Ferociously! Joyously, maybe?

(I’ll let you know how it goes.)

1 comment:

  1. You express so well the problems I face. In another dimension, we must be twins.


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