Archive for September 11, 2018

Seeking Order

Longtime blog readers may have noticed that I have a bit of an obsession with organization. I’ve come to realize that I’m actually kind of a neat freak, but I’m also lazy and have bad habits, so I’m also a bit of a slob. Plus, I’ve lived in my house for more than 20 years, and before that I had moved every 1-4 years throughout my whole life, so I have no clue how to purge and deep clean a house without moving. I never lived anywhere long enough that this became an issue. I would love to live in a house that’s basically like a hotel room, with no clutter and perfectly clean. I think that’s part of why I love hotels so much. I unpack and put everything away, and I tidy my stuff before I leave for the day, then when I return it’s been cleaned.

I’ve been working on getting my house in order, and it’s been a long-term work in progress. The one bit of organization that’s really stuck was when I got my dresser and my t-shirt collection dealt with last summer, and I did that based on an article about the “KonMari” method. When I found Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Things Up, in the library, I thought I’d take a look.

She definitely goes against some of the conventional wisdom, like saying it’s better to do it all in one day than to try to do it gradually, a little at a time. Then again, doing it gradually hasn’t really stuck for me and the thing I did all at once has. I think the trick is to cut the overall project into chunks that can be done in one day. Otherwise, you may be doomed. There was a time when I’d been watching too much home improvement TV and decided to “Clean Sweep” my office, putting everything in boxes and getting it out of the room, then starting over from there. I was digging through boxes to find stuff for years and the office was soon a mess again. But there is some sense to doing a category of things all at once because it will never stay tidy and organized if you don’t have a place to put everything, but you won’t have a place to put everything without doing a good purge.

I don’t have time right now to stop everything and devote a whole day to cleaning out my closet or book collection, so I’m tentatively planning to tackle the closet when I do the seasonal changeover, probably in November. By then, I should have some urgent projects off my plate. But I can also do some preliminary purging along the way — if there’s something I know I don’t want or need, I can get rid of it now.

She has a few things that are way too hardcore, even for me, like putting your bookcase in your closet. Even if I purged clothes and books to a minimum, I wouldn’t be able to fit my bookcase in my closet. And there are some things that seem like overkill, but make some sense when you think about it. Like, she says she unpacks her purse when she comes home each day. She has a designated spot for each item in her purse, and she puts things like receipts and business cards in her office to deal with, then wipes down and puts away her purse. The next day, she chooses the purse she wants and packs it. I think if you leave the house every day and go to the same place where you need the same things, that would be excessive, especially if you stage everything at night so you can grab and go in the morning — you’d be unpacking your purse just for a few hours. Maybe a Friday-night unpacking would work. But for someone like me, where I leave the house just a few times a week and go different places, it makes some sense. Then the things I carry with me would be intentionally chosen for that outing, and it would eliminate the purse full of old tissues, old receipts, and stale cough drops. Or, she says not to store shampoo or other product bottles in the bath or shower, not even in those shower caddies. Instead, store them in the cabinet, take out the ones you need for each bath or shower, then wipe them down and put them away after the bath/shower. That seems a bit much, but I guess it wouldn’t take much time, and it makes the shower easier to clean without working around those bottles, where mildew and mold tend to build up.

We’ll see if I can actually get and keep things in order this time. I’ve told myself that when I get the house organized and decluttered, I can start getting a monthly cleaning service. That’s enough to get the regular deep cleaning taken care of and since I’m the person who’ll clean for the maid, it would force me to tidy at least once a month. And then, theoretically, I would be more productive. But first, I have some things I need to finish writing.