It’s never too late to clear our clutter

Dear clutter-challenged reader, take heart. If you found this page, very likely you are struggling with the messy monster as I am.

If you’ve been here before, you may remember this photograph of my desk.

My desk after clearing the clutter, January 2009

My desk after clearing the clutter, January 2009

I regret to report, this is how my desk looks today.

Sadly, I've let piles of paper, holiday greeting cards, receipts and various bits of junk clutter my desk worse than ever

Sadly, I’ve let piles of paper, holiday greeting cards, receipts and various bits of junk clutter my desk worse than ever

If you’re reading this, very likely you know exactly how this feels. You may imagine that this isn’t the only, or even perhaps the worst mess in my house. You imagine truth.

Starts, stops and setbacks

Back on January 1, 2009, when I sat down to chronicle my clutter-clearing journey, I fully expected to tackle the job systematically, however long it might take. For several months I did just that, even when I didn’t come back and report here on my progress.

For the next few years, each winter I renewed my commitment to post on my progress here. Then in May or June of 2013, I gave up almost everything else to plan a wedding–mine!

While planning our wedding on the short string of less than six weeks, we did our best to keep up with our other responsibilities, cutting ourselves slack wherever we could. That slack for me came with clutter.

Somewhere in my closet lurks a pair of shoes I thought I would wear at the wedding and didn’t. Pristine, they are. I’ll never wear them now, but there they lie in their dusty shoe box, expensive, paid for, unreturned, crammed between boxes of unopened mail and unfiled papers I never quite seem to get to.

Somewhere in those unfiled papers lies our beautiful, hand-scribed wedding certificate, with the names of our daughters as witnesses and one of their dear husbands as officiant. Somewhere there, also lies our official wedding certificate, from the county registrar.

So proud of those documents were we! Still proud, actually.

I meant to file them. I did. Really.

I let happy fatigue and catching up on the rest of my life get in the way.

All kinds of life. The living, the dying, the taking care of almost anything that seemed more important. Creativity. Learning new skills. Honing old ones. Did I mention fatigue?

But you know all this. If you’re here, you’ve decided, as I have to give that clutter monster one more kick in the kiester.

It’s never too late to set a new goal–or to reset an old one

Today, January 4, 2015, I set my clutter-clearing goal anew: To zap my clutter fifteen minutes a day, five days a week.

In fact, I’ve got a head start. For a couple of weeks now, I’ve managed to drop everything for fifteen minutes nearly every day and focus on clearing my clutter. These tiny successes encourage. Even better, they give me little zings of energy, little zaps that help me look forward to the next day’s progress.

Things are looking up.

Here’s an example. I’m short. I cannot reach the top shelf of my kitchen cupboards easily. I can see whatever sits near the edge and nothing more. But I need that space!

So the other day I climbed on my nice, sturdy kitchen stool and took a look. It wasn’t as bad up there as I feared.

Once I took out all the jars I don’t need and recycled them, I had plenty of space for the jars I do need, several of which were taking up space on shelves meant for other goods, or worse, sitting out on the counter.

We buy as many of our staples as we can in bulk. I also make some of my own beauty potions and lotions. Jars and containers of all sizes and shapes come in handy, but I don’t need to hoard them.

It’s okay to start again–Start where you are

Now that we’re in a new year, I know lots of folks may be dealing with clutter messes of their own. I’m sharing my failures and my successes here because it’s so important that we never, ever give up.

Never Give Up lesson scroll from His Holiness the Dalai

Never Give Up lesson scroll from His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Setbacks come. Maybe it’s taken me six years to get back almost to where I started, but I refuse to succumb to despair or self-hatred.

This is where I am today. This is where I start.

I can have a tidy home. Maybe not a Zen home, maybe more of a Norman Rockwell home, but I can have a home that is comfortable for me and my family.

Am I embarrassed to have reached this point once more? You bet I am.

How could I let this happen? Life is so much easier when I keep things tidy.

Take heart, you’re not alone

So take heart, ye who suffer from cluttermania. You are not alone. If you’ve tried and failed to clear your messes, or worse, cleared some only to allow them to return, I’m right there with you.

In the meantime, I don’t promise to post every day. I may not post before-and-after photographs on all the days that I do post, but I will keep coming back and letting you know how I’m doing.

One, two, three, Go!

Are you ready to tackle your clutter? Stop what you’re doing, set a timer for 15 minutes, and clear some bit of clutter you’ve meant to do for a while.

Anything at all. Put it away where it belongs. Drop it into a giveaway box. Recycle it. Throw it away.

Then come back here and crow about it in the comments. You deserve a pat on the back. I’ll give you one.


2 thoughts on “It’s never too late to clear our clutter

  1. I’m just going to say that you don’t want to see the top of my desk…or under it…or surrounding it…or the top of my printer.
    I have cleared these spaces over and over and over again over the years.
    I am truly hoping that 2015 really is the year for me to declutter and keep it that way. Room by room and hot spots are on my to-do list for this year.

    I did unclutter 2 kitchen cabinets the other day-that was a good start in the kitchen.


    • Marsha, congratulations on de-cluttering two kitchen cabinets! Good start indeed, and thank you for visiting.

      I know how difficult it is to keep some of our spaces free of clutter. For me, clutter builds up because I don’t know where to put an item, or the place it belongs is not handy.

      That’s especially true of my desk. We have long-term, unsolved filing space issues. Until we can make filing necessary papers easy, I know we will continue to build clutter piles around the desk. Is that true for you as well? What ideas do you have to solve your repeat offenders?


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