Slaying the Clutter Dragon: The First Sword Charge

Hello, my name is Robin, and I’m a pack rat.

I really didn’t intend to let it get this bad, but here it is. This is the first of my set of “catchall” bins, situated right at the door of my room to catch my purse, library books, Sunday school texts, and anything else that kept getting lost in the black hole of my room.

It started out as a place of organization, about a year ago. You can see what’s happened since then…it’s lived up completely to its “catchall” nickname.

I REALLY don’t like this habit of mine, but it happens every time. First, I get a clean, flat surface available in my house, and I enjoy its cleanliness for a few days. Then I start thinking “COOL, I have a place to put [insert random object here]; I’ll just set it here till I have a permanent place for it.” Repeat this process about 1,000 times, and soon my “clean flat surface” is a “junky flat surface” again, often overflowing its junk into the floor at random intervals.

And when I say that every clean flat surface in my room is covered with junk, I mean that…

every single…

flat surface…

in my room…

is covered…

with JUNK.

And yet, it’s seemingly all “necessary junk.” I can’t really get rid of it, even when I search through it, because when I do check through this junk, it’s all stuff I need access to, or need to categorize, otherwise I’ll forget about having it in the first place.

Wait, How Can You “Forget” About Your Stuff?

When I put things away, I tend to forget about them. Out of sight, out of mind, LITERALLY.

This is one reason I can’t put library books anywhere but RIGHT at the door, easily visible from my bed, because if I put them somewhere else, they’ll never be returned, or even read. Items have to be staring me right in the face if I’m going to think about them (and even then, sometimes I still walk out of the house without that library book I’ve been meaning to return for a week).

The Intent of the Catchall Bins

Because I apparently can’t put things away without forgetting that I even have them, I got this set of open catchall bins. I will say it’s done its job fairly well, keeping my Sunday school books and Bible from being stomped on or lost, keeping me from forgetting about library books, and keeping my purse out of trouble on the floor. It just…well, it just looks like the rest of my room now–overflowing with junk.

The Solution: Clean Out, Categorize, Replace

So, this past Friday, I finally tackled these messy bins, marking the first “sword charge” in my battle against the Clutter Dragon, who had claimed my room for its domain.

The first thing I had to do was to take everything out of the bins so I could sort it all. (I also had to dust out all the bins, especially the bottom one…for being so crammed full of junk, it sure got dusty!)

The following picture shows the result of cleaning out the bins:

My full-size bed is almost completely covered with the junk from these four small bins. :/ I hadn’t realized, until this moment, just HOW much stuff was hiding in open storage. Yes, yes, I know, my “Severe Pack Rat” certification is in the mail as we speak. xD

It’s a terrible jumble of old bank statements, church bulletins, Sunday school textbooks, random books, magazines, and DVDs, even past Christmas gifts (the two red boxes in particular). But most maddening out of all this junk was the paper clutter, the stuff I have to read through to see if I still need to keep it. Paper clutter is probably THE reason I live such a cluttered life–it just takes so much TIME to read and sort through all of it, and it just makes me tired to look at it.

Anyhoo, once the bins were emptied…

(proof that they WERE empty at one time, lol)

…then I had to begin the unenviable task of sorting and throwing away–i.e., the most difficult part of organization and cleaning.

I put back the necessary stuff onto the bins, all the stuff I knew I was keeping there; my purse, Kindle, Bible, current magazines, and gym gear, mainly. Then, I just had this remaining stuff left:

Most of this was old Sunday school texts, random old magazines, a DVD or CD here and there, Christmas gifts, and, of course, paper clutter. I sorted through all the paper trash next, mainly because I was getting mighty sick of looking at it. (Sad to say, some of the paper clutter got shifted to yet another flat surface because I need a shredder before I can throw it out. SIGH.)

But, once that was done, I was left with two piles: old Sunday school texts, and past Christmas gifts.

A Side Quest: Creating a Display Shelf

The old Sunday school stuff already had a future home: back at the church, where it belonged. But the Christmas gifts? I devised a whole new plan on the spot to deal with those.

See, the Christmas gifts were all little statues and figurines my boyfriend has bought me over the last couple of years, and because of the lack of clean flat surfaces in my room, I’ve never even unboxed them; there was no point in doing so. But as I glanced across the room, to the desk which has stood there since I was a little girl, I caught sight of the shelf just above the desk surface, and had an “A-HA!!!” moment.

Cleaning off the shelf of girlhood detritus (a couple of small dollhouses) was the work of about 10 minutes; I was left with this blank, clean canvas. Thus, I unboxed the three figurines at last, and added to that total another figurine I’d been wanting to display as well.

Here’s the result: my new display shelf!

From left: Belle looking at the Enchanted Rose under the glass; Belle and the Beast dancing (from the iconic scene in Beauty and the Beast); Dove II (Dawn Granger), still in the toy packaging. (I’m going to get a stand for the Dove figure at some point, but I didn’t have one handy for this shot.) Pardon this shot’s slight blurriness–it’s very hard to get pictures in a room as cluttered as mine!

Sadly, the biggest statue my boyfriend had gotten me was just a wee bit too tall for the shelf, so I had to put it on the desk below.

She’ll get her rightful place on a display shelf someday, I swear it! 😀

The Result of the First Epic Cleaning Quest

Here’s the result of my hard work:

This is the top bin, which stores my purse, Kindle, CDs, and anything else that usually leaves the house with me. (My ankle braces are hung on either side to remind me to wear them as much as possible.)

The books/magazines bin, second from the top, which contains all that I’m currently reading and working on. Great for keeping library books safe, too!

The third bin holds only my Bible at the moment, but will soon hold my current Sunday School textbook for the new quarter–again, to keep it safe from the floor and my clumsy self.

…And I don’t have a picture of the bottom bin because it kept showing up very dark and blurry. Lighting in my room is terrible for pictures. But all that’s in there are my gym shoes anyway. LOL! That is a triumph in itself–now I no longer have to hunt through the piles of crap in my room every week to find my shoes!

I am immensely proud of this first effort, even if it doesn’t look like much. It’s the first time I’ve been able to DO anything with this room in months, and admittedly it was very difficult to get started. But now that I AM started, now that I have charged in and stabbed at the clutter dragon…I find myself eager to continue, before it gets the better of me again.

Next Epic Cleaning Quest: The Dresser Beside the Bins

Next week, I’ll be tackling the top of the overflowing plastic dresser unit near the door. I’m not even worried about what’s IN the dresser; it’s what’s on TOP of the dresser that’s bugging me. Tune in next Tuesday for the next installment of “Slaying the Clutter Dragon!”

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