Thursday, January 12, 2017

Thursday thoughts: declutter, organise, create

in which our plucky heroine has a productive day...

After spending all of yesterday indoors, it was time to strap on the YakTrax and head up to Green Zebra for a bit of fresh produce, another apple would be quite welcome, and some rice crackers to go with the homemade hummus would combine for a sustaining brunch, and a chance for a short walk, even if it was ever-so-careful penguin walking, was really welcome...

Today it is just above freezing. There won't be much of this melting away in the next few days:

The streets are full of snow and ice, and the sky is a cloudless blue

Since the planned errands for today were off the table, due to bureaucracy being closed due to snow, it seemed like a good day to turn up the podcasts and dig in to the decluttering. There was just one more box of misc unsorted papers to go through, and then all the unknown boxes were dealt with (as I recall I started last year with over 60 piles or bags or boxes of unknown content) It took a few hours to look at each paper bit one at a time, but when I was done there were two full bags of recycle, a pile to go in the bag of "shred or burn" and a tiny handful of index cards with art ideas noted on them to save. Huzzah for the end of Phase 1 !! (which I have been toiling away at for almost three years of somewhat intermittent effort)

As best I can understand it, Phase 2 involves going through the house one area at a time, sorting, organising and condensing what is there, moving things as needed to the best place for them to be used or stored. I suspect that as time goes on, I will have a better sense of this, so for now, I chose one obvious spot.
The hallway is my library, and most of the books in Acorn Cottage are supposed to live on the bookshelves there. A great deal of other things have been tucked in there over the last ten years, and the whole zone has become quite disorganised. Tonight's project was to deal with the very top of bookshelf, above the paperback shelf.

What I had originally intended for this wall was: wall art at the very top, then paperbacks (and the shadowbox at the right end for small interesting things)... then the wall clear from the bottom of the paperbacks to the top of the bookcase. The top of the bookcase for a pleasant assortment of interesting objects of a medium size... then books solidly all the way down.  There are several issues that have made this difficult, besides the obvious need to sort and organise. But I also don't really know where to put the things that ended up there by default instead of by intention. And I also have a problem because some of the books are too small for the bookcases (too short, and too shallow) and a few are too big and stick out!
It took a bit of doing, I'm embarrassed that there was some pretty heavy dust and cobwebs up there, but eventually the entire surface was cleared away, and the objects were either dusted off and put aside as memorabilia, or sent to Goodwill or recycle-land. Of course, now that is cleared off, the bookshelves look much more jammed. The taped tags mark the spacing for my personal SCA charters... Last year I found Ikea frames that include a shadowbox insert, which makes framing the charters a lot simpler, as multiple mats to deal with the thickness of the wax seals are not needed.
After a fair amount of additional measuring, the framed charters, which have been leaning against the bedroom wall for the last month, are finally on the wall where they were meant to go all along... You can see the gap in the middle where my missing Jambe charter should be. I am tempted to put my Laurel scroll, currently on the lower left corner of the wall, there temporarily. It would make sense move it up there at least for now, until I can get the missing Jambe sorted out, plus that is my one "real" scroll and it will likely be safer up and out of the way, but still be visible.

leaning against the wall, soon to be properly attached!

I don't really want to put all the assorted memorabilia back up on that shelf, the family photos need a different wall for their home, and some of these trinkets and treasures are actually useful elsewhere. I'm liking how much more peaceful the library wall is beginning to look, and the upper shelf is so high that it is really hard to dust things that are living up in the sky like that. So, for now, these pretty and fascinating objects will get temporarily boxed up, until Phase 2 creates places for them to call home.

January SMART goals
1 black/cream pinafore brown pinafore hemexpired medicines
2 toile for knit pants reframed charterpaper recycle
3 - Wastekeep bid bag of papers
4 - charters on wall bag of papers
5 -topmost shelf cleared -
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  1. Very impressed with you dealing with the paperwork. I am struggling to get a big enough chunk of time to make any inroads in mine. I have collected it in piles in my study but that's not really helping me!
    The bookcase are looks so much better and loving your nice framed scrolls. They look fantastic there.

    1. Thank you! Getting the papers collected in one place is a good start! Maybe you can take just a small chunk at a time and sort it out, or I have had really good success with setting a kitchen timer and just working away for twenty minutes at a time... Plus, sorting papers is so wearying for some reason, that shorter bits at a time might be a good idea. I will be cheering you on from way over here in Portland!

      Today I spent about three hours at it.. I have lost count of how many hours I have spent dealing with old paperwork of various kinds... for some reason, for many years, I have saved things like old utility monthy bills, and any papers that were in any way related to money (this doesn't include my actual tax records, which are an entirely different and well organised situation) Finally I am at an end with the piles and boxes of old random papers, and probably at least 80% just went to recycle, with a goodly portion of the rest needing to be shredded or burnt. I still have to file the papers that I did want to keep, but that is a different and less difficult task, though still not my favorite, I will probably resort to my favorite 20/10's, using the timer for twenty minutes on, and then ten minutes doing something for pleasure, like knitting, or reading

  2. I am very impressed. I need to do this, but don't know quite how to start. I accumulate things, but find that having so much stuff makes it hard to use any of it, and is very stressful...

    Well done you!!

    1. I feel for you! That was my situation a few years ago. I attempted to deal with my clutter by reading various books, and trying some approaches like FlyLady, but nothing really helped much, and I felt really overwhelmed. The first year I set myself SMART goals, to reach a quantity of 60 in three categories by the time I turned 60, was what started my real change. All year long I wrote down each time I discarded the equivalent of a grocery sack full of stuff, whether donated or binned.

      Then two years ago I began working with an online coach, Jessica Denham, and my efforts at decluttering have really become more successful. I have found the encouragement and suggestions to be really helpful and worthwhile.

  3. Great job Allison!! :) You have rocked getting Phase 1 done and then starting on Phase 2. Love how your charters look on the wall with no items on the top book shelf to compete with them. It looks very calm and inviting.

    1. Thanks Ann! I will probably sort out a few more areas this weekend!

  4. Your bookshelf looks so much better now! In my home, I box up and store most of the decorative items, displaying only a few at a time. Every once in awhile I switch things around. I like a calm, serene atmosphere but seldom have it. However, the storage/display alterations help immensely. My daughter-in-law gave me a great compliment when she said she liked how my house looked -- Zen, she said.

    1. This is just the beginning...

      I am interested in your idea of storing decorative items and displaying only some of them at a time; it sounds rather Japanese in concept. I will think about that, as I have quite a few things either pretty or sentimental that I do not want to discard

  5. The declutter of your top bookshelf was very effective! Already it looks more peaceful, and more purposeful if that makes sense. I am following your progress with great interest as I also live in a smaller space (an apartment in my case) but have so many things. It is very inspiring to see another's progress. :) I am especially in awe of your progress with papers; I have a recurring battle with mine and I definitely have issues there. Also, I am another who rotates their display of sentimental/decorative or knicknacks. With me it is a necessity as I have so many. Best wishes for continued progress, I am sure your home will be wonderfully peaceful and functional when you have finished. (side note: I learned I could comment here so long as I use Chrome)

    1. Welcome here Mary! I think that Acorn Cottage is quite small for a house, as even including the workroom (former garage space) the whole house is under 1000sq/ft. Papers are a real challenge, although I am finding my "trinkets and treasures" to be much more difficult. My current efforts are now being focused on the "textile room" aka sewing room, aka guest space. This room holds all my fabric and most things related to my sewing. It is currently pretty scary!