Clutter project lesson- one big idea

Time for confessions and to start a new journey.  This is the very real washing of dirty laundry in public!  I have been unable to finish writing my books on time.  I have also been coughing with my nose being blocked, despite having medications.  Reflecting on why that might be, I started to think about where I do my work, more specifically the state  of my home office.  Looking around, I realised the place is absolutely cluttered. I am a visual person and clutter just detracts my attention.  So I started cleaning and decluttering last week, thinking that it would take a couple of days.  But I am still not finished.  So I decided to go public and shame myself further by posting a photo of the clutter from my office.

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It is not funny- clutter is costing me a lot of money.  I found so much stationery I had bought that it will take me years to use up those.  Of course I can throw or give them away but I realise that these were bought with my hard earned money.  I am not rich at all (perhaps because of this?)  I wouldn’t throw away a £10 note, why would I throw these away?  And then there are tons of books I had bought. I went to Amazon listing and found that I had at least £100 worth of books, lying around, unread. Paper and Printer inks that have dried up and so on.  Further, as I stumbled about, I fell down on the clutter and now have a 14 cm long and 4 cm wide bruise on my leg from that apart and cuts (shameful photo also posted for posterity).  There are also a lot of newspaper cuttings which I use for my work but these were also everywhere.  The clutter is harming my life, physically and mentally.

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I have read many books on clutter prevention and these books were now cluttering my bookshelves!  I had books about organising and yet, my life was disorganised.  In reality, I knew the theory but failed in practice.  As I have started decluttering, here is the one big idea I have used, which could be useful for creative people, who create mess! And for visual people, who get distracted.  And for those in small spaces.  This big idea is about using just a few big boxes. I found some cheap boxes from Amazon in a colour I like- yellow and bought four of these. I have decided to give away or sell many books. I looked for organisations looking for the stuff I didn’t want- I gave away a chair and fabric swatches to a local school, books and extra stationery to the charity shop and local library, etc.

1. Simplify and save time by keeping ‘like with like’ together and in one place- So for instance, I have put all my stationery in one box, everything; instead of having separate boxes for notebooks, pencils, tapes, etc. I just now have to look in one box, instead of many. Many decluttering books recommend putting ‘like for like’ but in separate boxes (just look at any Youtube videos)- but these only increase time looking for things and also need space.

2. Have just two or three boxes– for instance, current projects, archival and storage for stationery.  The current project box should be to hand, while others can be accessed when needed.

3. Reduce visual clutter and increase productivity– Some organising books for decluttering recommend clear storage boxes but these only increase visual and mental clutter.  So just have big boxes with simple labels- newspaper cuttings, computer supplies, stationery, etc.

4. Digitise– Once a week go through paper work, think, ‘What would be the worst that would happen if I threw this away?  Could I find it online?  Can I scan it instead for posterity?’

5. Don’t buy straightaway– always see first if you have something that you can use before buying (even if you think you know!).  See if you can borrow it?  Even buying from charity shops costs money.

I will post photos as I progress and learn more!

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