Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tidying Up by Leigh Riker

What? It's already the second week of the New Year?! How can that be? My Christmas decorations are still up. And I'm still enjoying them.

Clearly, I'm running behind. For the past month, other than the holidays, I've been focused on revisions, which are due shortly on my second Heartwarming book, and I've definitely lost track of time.

So far, after work hours, I've managed only baby steps with my lone New Year's resolution for 2015: To clear out all the junk in my house. I moved here almost thirteen years ago, and then I had extra closets, empty drawers and cupboards galore to fill. Since then my belongings seem to have bred and multiplied and grown until now those same closets, etc. are filled to overflowing. Sound at all familiar? I bet it does. This year, I decided, would be a good one to cut down on things, even prepare to downsize, that is, someday.

To help me get started, I'm reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Tidying is her term for sorting and organizing one's belongings by category and, in the process, one's life. This, her theory goes, leads to greater happiness and joy. This book showed up at just the right time with some good ideas and has given me a place to begin soon. With my clothes. In Kondo's view that's the easiest category to sort and, for many pieces of clothing, to discard.

In the meantime those revisions on the new book have to be finished. And they almost are. I've cut a couple of scenes that didn't really go anywhere and generally tightened the rest of the story. That's a kind of tidying up too. Isn't it?

How do you deal with all those belongings we tend to acquire? And have to store? Do you clean closets twice a year in spring and fall? Or wait (as I have) until there's no space left? Please leave a comment, even a tip or two of your own.

Happy tidying up! And Happy New Year.

26 comments:

  1. I admit to moving those boxes in the basement that contained things I never used from house to house to house. For example, I have no idea why I kept all my university text books for so long! It was simple to keep moving the boxes and store them in some unfinished storage area in the basement . . . until we moved into our current house

    Nearly every single inch of space is finished, thus there is very little true storage space within the house. Out of necessity, I finally had to open up all those boxes and donate or toss those things that I would never use and had no idea why I had kept (university text books included).

    Happy tidying, Leigh!

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    1. Funny, Kate. I still have boxes my grown son sent home when he planned to move back in--which he never did. And I too have some college textbooks still on my shelf.

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  2. Alas, I wait until the whole house is like the Goodwill commercial with the stuff falling out of the closet on the guy's head. The clothes, I agree, are the easiest to get rid of, and then I replace them with ones that fit... But I love the parallel you drew about the revisions--they are a form of tidying up, even when it's painful and you don't really want to toss parts that mean something to you. Great post, Leigh, and good luck with the tidying and the new book. :-)

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    1. Me too, Liz. I'm about to buy new clothes to replace the old, outdated, or don't-fit-anymore clothes. Thanks for the good wishes. I'm excited about this new book.

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  3. Boy, did your post hit a nerve. I cleaned out my office closet yesterday, as well as my desk, and what used to be my daughter's room. I boxed up things for Goodwill and still had overflow that I put...in what used to be my son's room.

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  4. Leigh, I'm horrible at keeping things tidy. I moved here in 2011 from a much larger place. My kids came down and helped sort and they had a huge garage sale. I felt good about having downsized. I swore my kitchen counters would remain uncluttered. I lied! I stack "stuff" all over them. Things I may want to read that come in the mail. Things I pick up at my writers meetings. My stacks have married and had quadruplets. If that book helps organize I need to get it. My sister is a neatnick. She says a cluttered house is the sign of a cluttered mind, and if you have a cluttered mind you don't rest as well. I'm sure I need therapy for that.

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    1. Roz, you should get that book! :) I'll warn you that the author is pretty compulsive and would advise people to throw out things I wouldn't (like ALL books), but she makes some good points that are helpful.

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  5. When you finish emptying your closets, I'll send you my address and you can come to Mississippi. I'll be glad to put you up for however long it takes to get me organized and my closets cleaned. Once when we moved from a house that I had hauled "stuff" from another house to, I left that "stuff" in the attic because the new owners planned to bulldoze the house down. Why in the world do we carry around "stuff" we never use? Great post.

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    1. Ha, Patricia. You know what? I actually love to organize. If I wasn't a writer, I'd probably start a business--not that I keep my own "stuff" organized that well. I probably threw away half of everything I owned when I moved here, but--sigh--that didn't last. Love your idea to leave things in the attic of that house.

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  6. Leigh, I've just finished a book, and I'm cleaning closets! The back of my car is chock full, and after I leave the bags and boxes at Goodwill, I'm going back in for more! We've moved so many times in our lives, we've had to clean the house regularly as we packed up to move on, but now we haven't moved in eight years, and I don't know what to do with all this--stuff! I definitely think the cleaning of a book and the cleaning of a closet are similar. Sometimes, killing our darlings is cutting out a piece of ourselves. But sometimes those pieces need to go. Best of luck with decluttering the book and your home!

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    1. Anna, yes! I do think there's a connection. I'm ready now to tackle those closets as soon as the tidied up book leaves my desk. I have an old van that we use to transport mulch for the garden and things that go to Goodwill--and it's full right now! Need to make a trip before more bags start to fill up.

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  7. Hi Leigh! *Waves*. Um. We're supposed to get rid of stuff? That definitely sounds like a 2015 goal for me, LOL. Good luck on the edits and the deadline! Just met mine with another in 3 weeks , but this one's only for 50 pages so...insanity will hopefully pass me by this time. Happy writing!

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    1. Thanks, Anna J. Good luck with your next deadline. I'm ready for a day of rest before I do tackle the closets. But maybe I'll get a manicure first. Everything has gone to you know where during these revisions.

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  8. We must all be in the same space. I spent yesterday morning breaking down boxes I'd saved because they might be useful, or I might have to send something back, and they're now encroaching on my washer and dryer. I'm trying to tidy, but it's not in my nature. I'm like Pig Pen in Peanuts, moving around in a perpetual cloud of dust. We've been 39 years in the same house that has an attic and a basement, so you can just imagine. But I'm plugging away, little by little. There's comfort in knowing you're all doing the same thing.

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    1. Yes we are in the same predicament, Muriel. Guess what? That author of the tidying book advises getting rid of all boxes because they will never prove useful :) She also thinks the decluttering must take place rather quickly, all at once. Hmmm. Not sure I can manage that.

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  9. What a timely post! I am in the middle of tidying up and have a much bigger mess now than when I started! So much "stuff" to go through! I did start with clothes, though. :)

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    1. It's a daunting process, Britney. But also satisfying. I feel so free whenever I load a few bags up for Goodwill. Keep trying! The piles can't last forever.

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  10. I like to start with my file drawer because shredding is so empowering. My husband is better than me at doing closets. He cleans his side of the closet every year and dutifully puts together bags for Goodwill. I am the one who finds it hard to get rid of stuff because I think that when I finally get rid of it I'll need it. ) :

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    1. Wow, that's impressive that your husband cleans his closet every year. Maybe he could teach the rest of us how to de-clutter. But it is hard to get rid of things, I know. Can't tell you how many times I've put back some item "just in case."

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  11. You are my new role model! My favorite way to cull unnecessary stuff is to watch an episode of Hoarders...and it scares me into cleaning a closet, a drawer, a shelf. I'm getting a copy of that book, so I won't have to cringe at roaches, mice, and dead pets buried under the garbage! :-)

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    1. Me? A role model? Wow, I'm honored, Loree--and undeserving since I haven't really gotten a good start on my de-cluttering yet. Love your idea to watch Hoarders. That's inspiration for sure!

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  12. We purged our basement before Christmas. I have been holding on to some of the kids toys because I just couldn't let go. Now I wish I had let go earlier! It was a good feeling to say goodbye to all that clutter! My office is another matter ...

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    1. Amy, you are my role model . I have several plastic bins filled with toys, games, books, crayons, etc., most of which belonged to my boys. However. I still have them for my grandkids. Obviously, letting go is a problem for me.

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  13. Oh, Leigh, I loved the Tidying book and bought three more copies for friends. It made me look at using my space differently. I had been purging the house of "stuff" for several years but it hadn't helped. One fun solution: I turned a coat closet into a place to hang my collection of vintage tablecloths. We weren't wearing all of those coats anyway. :)

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  14. What a great solution to hang those tablecloths. My coat closet is stuffed full of coats we rarely wear.Time to purge that too. In that book she often talks about things piling up again after we "clean out" closets and drawers--when not using her system. I'm eager to see if, under her tutelage, once my clutter is gone it stays gone.

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