The beauty of shoveling out a little at a time

Nine days ago, my desk looked like this.

My desk on January 26, before its first 15-minute clutter-clearing session

My desk on January 26, before its first 15-minute clutter-clearing session

Yesterday, after its fifth 15-minute clutter-clearing session, my desk looked like this.

My desk, almost clear after five fifteen-minute clutter-clearing sessions

My desk, almost clear after five fifteen-minute clutter-clearing sessions

In the beginning, I dreaded tackling that mess. Buried in the debris, I knew, were dozens of pieces of paper requiring action. Just one of them would take nearly two full fifteen-minute sessions to resolve.

That’s the beauty of shoveling out our clutter in teeny, tiny increments. Breaking it into short work periods makes it nearly painless–and rewarding.

That document that took nearly two 15-minute sessions all by itself? That was the one I hoped would turn up so I could take care of it.

One worry off my mind. Check!

Rewarding myself

Last night, glad to have come this close to getting the job done, and while I waited for a process to finish on my computer, I took the opportunity to clear everything left in the pile that wasn’t paper–coins, a small vial of super glue, some pens and other junk. It took about five minutes to put those items in their homes, including dusting the desk afterward.

Getting to do that bit extra felt like a reward. I fairly danced afterward. Who’d have thought that clearing a tad more space could be the reward du jour for clearing clutter? But sure enough, it is.

Last round on this mess

Holey sieve, Batman, I just may drain the last of the desk doo-doo today. Here’s my desk as I set the timer.

The last of the desk mess!

The last of the desk mess!

Fifteen minutes later, I’m down to just one piece of paper, which requires a 10-15 minute telephone call. The toddler is napping, so I dare not make that call, or I’d do it just for the joy of finishing this task and filing the last piece of paper away.

One lone piece of paper remains, requiring a 10-15 minute telephone call

One lone piece of paper remains, requiring a 10-15 minute telephone call

Yup, my desk is not pristine. I still have the limping laptop to repair. There’s a sticky note reminding me of something important I can’t let go of for another week or so.

Then there’s that small ring of beads. They stay. Another granddaughter threaded them and tied them into a ring for me. I smile every time I see it, so I’ll keep it on the desk for a while.

Keeping the desk clear

Can I keep the desktop looking like this from now on? I need a strategy. Here’s what I’m going to do.

  1. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll watch how I handle papers and all the little bits that end up on my desk.
  2. As each piece hits the desk, I’ll make note of obstacles that keep me from taking care of the paper/junk properly.
  3. Then, I’ll brainstorm ways to overcome those obstacles.
  4. Finally, I’ll develop a plan and set it in motion.

I’m giving myself a red-letter deadline for developing the plan: Saturday, February 21.

This is a good time to run this strategy because next week, instead of putting on my granny-nanny apron just three days a week, I wear it all five weekdays. That’s going to make keeping up with my clutter-clearing project a challenge. I’ll get plenty of opportunities to see how desk clutter accumulates.

In case you’re wondering, during the last nine days, I managed to do a bit of clutter removal in other areas of my home, some of it in other rooms while the child napped, and some on the weekend, when another long-term project came to fruition.

More about that later. For now, how are you doing with your clutter? Nibbling away at it? Taking it by storm? All done? Or tied up in knots because it seems hopeless?

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2 thoughts on “The beauty of shoveling out a little at a time

  1. I enjoy reading this each time I see it. You are giving us all some good lessons in decluttering. 15 minutes a day is pretty easy to fit in to the busiest of schedules, and the freeing feeling when you finish is so worth it! Keep it up. Looking forward to seeing what’s next.

    Liked by 1 person

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