Tag Archives: organization

Making Custom Sorted Playlists, aka “Being OCD About My Music Collection”

I suppose it was inevitable–categorizing my music as heavily as I do now, I mean. Being musical and being fairly OCD…well, my labeling and listing bug got hold of my music collection and had a field day. Now, with iTunes’ playlist feature, I can make all the nitpicky little playlists I want. LOL

The Beginning: Playlists that Move from Energy to Relaxation

This “labeling and sorting” music craze of mine began with self-made mix CDs back in high school (~2002), throwing together a haphazard list of my 15-19 newest favorite songs and arranging them into a mix that somehow kinda-sorta made sense.

For instance, this is one of my self-made mixes from around 2006-2007 (I think), titled “A.D.D.” for its relative craziness. Nevertheless, I did try to group songs together, not by subject matter or alphabetization, but by song sound–the most energetic songs appeared first on the mix, whereas the more downtempo songs appeared last.

I did pretty much all my CD mixes this way for a long time, simply because I like listening to faster music more often and I wanted the faster songs more readily available (i.e., not having to skip a bunch of tracks to get to them). It worked well for me; as the CD played through, I worked through all the faster songs and then, if I wished, I could move on to slower, more chill stuff.

Next Steps: Chromatic Playlists (Warning: Music Nerd Alert)

But I also began experimenting with different ways to arrange playlists–take my current “New Favorites” playlist, which is arranged by musical key on an ascending chromatic scale:

Before arranging this mix, I used the “Comments” column of my iTunes music library to tag each song with its proper musical key. Then, I grouped all the songs in C major or minor together, followed by C# major and minor, then D major and minor, and so on, up to B major and minor at the end of the playlist.

The natural upward progression of keys makes my inner music major happy (and provides less of a shock to my perfect pitch when switching between songs). While the songs’ subject matters often have nothing in common, it’s also interesting to see how different composers use the same key to express such different ideas.

Fun With Labels: Playlists by Subject Matter/Use

You’ll notice, however, that not only are the above songs tagged with musical key information, but with other strange keywords. That’s one of my newer labeling strategies: making playlists by subject matter.

For instance, here’s a few selections from my “Rarrrr” (angry) playlist, which is good for getting out frustrations:

…and a few from my “Love” playlist (which includes songs about the pain of love as well as the joy of it):

I even have an extended playlist called “Butt Whoopin'” for those times when you’re stampeding through a video game level and need appropriately inspiring music. (It works–try it out :P)

And finally, a playlist of several of the songs my Zumba class uses to work out by:

Each of these playlists helps me to establish a certain mood (or, in the case of the “Rarrrr” mix, dispel it). It’s great to ride down the road toward Zumba class on Thursday nights, for instance, with my Zumba mix going, previewing so many of the cool songs I’ll be dancing to that night. I like gathering songs of the same subject matter together so that the playlist makes good lyrical sense from song to song.

For the Really Bored Hardcore Labelers: Playlists By Time Period

Lately, however, I’ve been into making playlists that focus on one particular time period of music, especially if the time period is instantly recognizable and singular in style.

Take these selections from the two most notable “time period” playlists I’ve made thus far: Oldies and Headbangers (50s/60s pop and 80s rock, respectively):


When I’m in a particularly “oldies” mood, or in a particularly 80s-rock mood, I know just which playlist to select. But it’s not just about the music, but the memories attached to each song; for the Oldies playlist, it brings up memories of riding in the car with my dad as a kid, listening to the local oldies station on the radio, for instance.

Time period playlists are great for nostalgia purposes as well as musical purposes–and after all, isn’t most music created to remember events and feelings better?

How Do You Make Your Own Playlists?

Leave me your thoughts in the comments. Have any different ideas for playlists besides the ones listed here? I’d love to hear ’em! (No pun intended 😛 )

Slaying the Clutter Dragon, part 10: A Look Back

In 10 weeks, I’ve come so far in my war on clutter. From barely being able to swing my bedroom door fully open, now I can walk freely through nearly half the room, and I’ve cleaned out over half the closet. Who would have thought?

I certainly didn’t think my war with the Clutter Dragon would go this well, since it never has before. But then again, in my past battles, I tried to de-clutter and clean all in one day, and I ended up tired, defeated, and nothing really changed. And in the past, I didn’t really try to get rid of anything that wasn’t just trash.

This time, I made up my mind to sell or donate anything I didn’t need, and that was the big change. Plus, I tackled one small area a week, and documented it with this very series of blog posts, so I held myself accountable.

What Have We Learned from Battling the Clutter Dragon?

Part 1 (The First Sword Charge): Start with a small area to clean out. Don’t try to tackle a whole cluttered room (or a whole cluttered house!) in one day all by yourself, especially not one as cluttered as mine was to start!

Part 2 (The Valiant Sword Sweep): Clearing the floor of clutter is often the most important part–you have to have clear places to put your feet when you’re cleaning, otherwise you’ll get hurt.

Part 3 (Horrors in the Hidden Abyss): If you don’t clean out your storage spaces from time to time, you will end up with clutter so bad you can’t live in your space anymore. Clean out the storage places, and you create places for your new favorite/important items to live.

Part 4 (Blundering in the Dark): When you tackle a cluttered storage space, you have to divide it up into small areas just like a cluttered room. Try to tackle too much and you’ll just get discouraged.

Part 5 (Nitty, Gritty, and Dirty): Arm yourself with cleaning products (dusters, disinfectant, paper towels, wipes, broom, dustpan, vacuum cleaner/sweeper, etc.), especially if you’re cleaning out a storage space that has lain untouched for many a year. You’ll thank yourself for having cleaning stuff at the ready!

Part 6 (A Swipe at the Dragon’s Leg): If you find yourself daunted, take another look at the clutter situation. What’s keeping you from working? Once you’ve found the reason you’re suddenly too tired/discouraged to de-clutter, then set about getting rid of it. Believe me, this helps so much!

Part 7 (A Desperate Sally Forth): Even if you don’t feel like tackling a usual-sized small area of your clutter, do SOMETHING to battle the Clutter Dragon in your life. Even if it’s just half a tiny closet shelf, or one box of books, or one corner of your room, keep fighting the war on clutter!

Part 8 (Where the Beast Hides): Don’t just move clutter around your house thinking you’re “dealing with it.” You haven’t dealt with it until you’ve sorted it out, thrown away everything that’s too broken to repair and sell, and sold/donated the rest of the items you’re not using and don’t want to keep.

Part 9 (Hacking Away at the Cache): Be ruthless about what you’re going to throw away and what you’re going to sell. If the item doesn’t make you happy, isn’t useful anymore, and/or is too broken to use/display anyway, what good is it doing you? When you’ve spent your life trapped by clutter, you can’t afford to be overly sentimental. Keep what is truly meaningful, but make room for yourself to live in your house with your precious items, too.

Closing Thoughts

In closing this series of blog posts, I hope you’ve found courage and motivation to fight your own Clutter Dragons. It’s an ongoing siege, a state of constant vigilance against the problem of “too much stuff and not enough space,” and I’m not nearly done with my own war on clutter. (I’m just done blogging about it for now, since I think 10 weeks on the same subject is quite enough. LOL!)

This series stands as proof that you CAN reclaim a room, a closet, even a small shelf, even if you are a hardcore hoarder like I’ve been in the past. And what’s more, you can maintain the change, just by being a bit more aware of how much stuff you own. (And don’t worry–when I finally reclaim my entire room from the Clutter Dragon’s terrible reign, you’ll hear the shout of joy all the way over at your house, no matter where you live in the world. xD)

Slaying the Clutter Dragon, part 9: Hacking Away at the Cache

The siege on the Clutter Dragon’s hidden hoard continues, with another week and another installment of sorting clutter. ONWARD! 😀

This week, I began with this mountainous pile you see below:

This pile, affectionately nicknamed “Clutter Mountain,” was yet another obstacle to the process of cleaning. I had to scale Clutter Mountain and conquer it, like Sir Edmund Hillary conquered Everest.

Unexpected Philosophy Amid the Climb

The actual process of de-cluttering progressed much as the last post did–removing items one at a time from the top of Clutter Mountain, making a decision about each item on the spot, and putting it in one of three areas: keep, donate/sell, and toss. Another big black trash bag served as the Toss zone, so it could be easily removed from the house when it was full.

But I found myself waxing philosophical about the journey as I worked. Contrary to my expectations, I was beginning to enjoy myself, even if I had put off the work as long as I could. And once I was finished conquering Clutter Mountain (which actually only took about 15 minutes once I got down to it), I was even energized enough to think about tackling the more grown-up clutter that lay on the table where the mountain of childhood had once stood.

It led me to an interesting realization: the more you de-clutter, the easier it is to do, mentally. Even though I had dragged around part of the day trying to avoid the task, once I got around to doing it rather than mentally whining about it, it was much easier, especially since I had set the hard and fast rule of “make a decision about each item RIGHT NOW.” (You wouldn’t believe how freeing that is, not until you’ve experienced the kind of quick de-cluttering it engenders.)

The Results

At last, Clutter Mountain has been conquered! WOOT! Only the slight layer of grown-up junk that was there before remains, and that might even be gone later, if my cleaning bug gets me again. 🙂

The chair I appropriated for my “Keep” zone gained only one new item–a little Paddington Bear, much-beloved from my childhood. He ain’t goin’ anywhere. 😀

As for the “Donate/Sell” zone…well…it got more piled up. LOL! But that’s a GREAT thing–there are plenty of toys here in good to almost-new condition, just in time for Christmas. Just think, some of these toys in this pile could make a little girl’s (or even a little boy’s) Christmas that much brighter!

I even had to start a new “Donate/Sell” box on another surface in the basement, because I had so many toys I sorted into this zone! This represents another step forward for me–not only am I sorting these things to be taken out of the house, but I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of getting them out of the house, instead of hoarding them.

As for the Toss zone, I didn’t photograph it, but the big black trash bag, empty at the beginning of the task, is already 3/4 full. WOW. :O

Next Week: The Philosophy I Thought Of Today

In next Tuesday’s post, I’ll share some of the clutter and cleaning philosophy I came up with while busy doing the work for this week. What I came up with might surprise you!

Slaying the Clutter Dragon, part 8: Where the Beast Hides

Throughout this series, I’ve been cleaning and de-cluttering, reclaiming my bedroom inch by inch.

Wait, let me rephrase that. Throughout this series, I’ve been moving junk around and not really dealing with it, getting one space clean at the expense of another space. LOL!

This is how a lot of us deal with clutter, actually–we move stuff around instead of getting rid of it, or we shove it into corners and under furniture so that we don’t have to look at it. Neither approach treats the disease of “too much stuff;” it only makes the symptoms a little easier to live with.

In my case, my bedroom’s dumping ground has been part of the finished basement, seen below:

Yeah, all of that mound of toy clutter came from my closet upstairs. I stacked it all down in the basement instead of dealing with it weeks ago, mainly because of low energy levels and wanting to get closet shelves clear first. But as I decluttered the closet, I ran into a problem:

The closet clutter did not just confine itself to one section of the room, but began to crawl into other areas…

…hiding in plain sight…

…spilling forth onto the floor…

…commandeering other tabletops and various surfaces…

…and generally taking over the basement room, as it had taken over my bedroom closet so many years before.

I surveyed this with a weary eye in my last installment; I thought I had been routing the Clutter Dragon, defeating it where it lay, but instead, I only moved its habitat. Now the Clutter Dragon reigned over its hoard in the basement, rather than my closet. 🙁

I simply could not put off the job of sorting and donating/throwing away any longer. If I kept delaying, I would end up with nowhere to put the rest of the clutter from the unfinished closet, nor would I be able to use the basement space for anything. So, with a tired sigh, I began to attack the clutter problem directly, finally dealing with the cache of childhood that had been stored so long.

Invading Clutter Valley

Since I knew I would not have the energy to deal with all the items today (especially not the mound of items in the first picture), I decided to tackle what I could–the valley of clutter between the coffee table and the love seat (both of which are hidden by clutter in these pictures).

This floorspace absolutely had to be cleared first before I could even begin to scale “Clutter Mountain.” Thus, I began to sort and deal with items as I could.

Zoning the Room: Keep, Sell/Donate, and Toss

First, I established part of a nearby tabletop as the “sell/donate” zone, with several small boxes to hold items that still had good life in them. For instance, the box above holds small toys, dolls, and game pieces…

…while this box holds various children’s literature, and so on.

I even did establish a “keep” zone as well (the seat of a broken computer chair), though I made sure it was a lot smaller than the “donate” zone. (Since this basement room has been pretty cluttered anyway, I had to work with the zones and the space I had–thus, why a chair seat functioned as the “keep” zone.)

As for the “toss” zone, that was the big black trash bag I carried around the large room with me, which you’ll see later in this post. This was possibly the most important zone of all, the one I had to make big decisions for, and the zone that, as a hoarder, I hate and fear the most. There’s just something so wrong about throwing away items one has paid good money for, even when they’re irreparably broken or otherwise ruined.

And yet, I couldn’t just leave them scattered about. Not if I wanted to be able to live in my house rather than just tiptoe around teetering piles of junk. If I was truly going to reclaim my room from the Clutter Dragon, I had to start actually chasing it out rather than just chasing it around the house.

Sorting, Tossing…and Surprising

So, with the makeshift zones established, I began to slowly fall into a rhythm of picking up items and deciding where they went. I did not move on from one item until it had been solidly put in one of the three zones, and I forced myself to move quickly through the items, making decisions that should have been made years ago.

Nor did I allow myself to fall too far into sentimentality as I categorized. Some objects that did have fond memories attached were put in the keep pile, but anything that didn’t have a memory with it, or didn’t absolutely have to stay because of the memory, got put into the sell/donate pile. Not only that, but I kept the trash bag with me so that if I found an item that was too broken or ruined, I could quickly put it in the trash and be done with it.

I really hated this part at first. My ankle was hurting, I was tired already, and I detested having to make quick decisions. But I also knew that if I didn’t do it right then, and do it quickly, I would never get it done at all. My record of cleaning and organizing (or rather, procrastinating about such tasks) showed that plainly.

So I kept moving…and as I did, I began to enjoy myself. It felt–GOOD to purge some of this old stuff. (Yes, I just admitted that; I just admitted that it felt good to throw stuff away. You may check my identity later. XD) The rapid decision-making, the firm, decisive action being taken after years or decades of hem-hawing, was in some way electrifying. The process became easier and easier, until…

Clutter Valley Cleared!

While it may not look a lot different from the “before” picture of Clutter Valley, now you can at least tell that there are furniture pieces and floor under there! And now I can walk through without stepping on Legos or tons of other tiny little toy pieces! YAY!

This is the “Donate” pile, rife with toys–the other items seen in this picture are not part of the “Donate” pile officially, but there was nowhere else to put them in the room. This pile will grow larger in the weeks ahead!

And this is the itty-bitty “Keep” pile–it’s mainly made up of empty boxes and small crates that I can use for categorizing later, as well as some very special memory items. Can you believe it? I have committed to keep less than 10% of what I categorized today! :O

And this is the “Toss” pile, stuffed inside this giant black bag. It’s pretty much stuffed to the brim…

…and this picture proves it! WOW!

The Real Victory Today: My Mindset

Though it may not look like much of the war on clutter was won today, there was an important mental victory scored–me actually learning to like the de-cluttering process. I’ve put it off for weeks and weeks, hating and fearing it because of its time-consuming, hair-tearing decision-making…but I learned that it can actually be a rapid, freeing process, if you let it. That just might be the most important lesson you can take away from this whole series!

Next Week: Scaling Clutter Mountain

You remember that big mound of clutter on the hidden coffee table? Well, it’s getting conquered in next week’s post–just wait and see!

Slaying the Clutter Dragon, part 7: A Desperate Sally Forth

Despite pain from old injuries in my right wrist and right ankle, this clutter warrior managed to battle the closet enough to clear one more shelf. This post, while being just a little shorter than usual, does represent one more victory.

The Constant Thorn in My Side: An Incomplete Shelf

About a year ago, I partially cleaned off the most accessible shelf in the closet (a little below waist level), just enough to store my HeroClix and other gaming supplies.

The problem?

I didn’t clean off the left side of the shelf…

…or the right side of it, for that matter.

Plus, there was a little stuff piled up in front of the shelf (sitting on top of massive stacks of junk, lol), which made it hard to get to the parts of the shelf I actually am using these days.

So, with braces wrapped around both my wrist and my ankle, I studied the closet, and determined that today was a good day to finally clean off those three un-cleaned areas. I figured it would be an easier task that wouldn’t strain my injured joints too badly.

I Crammed HOW MUCH Stuff On That Shelf?!

After a little work to clear the left side of the shelf…

…and a little more work to clear the right side…

…and even getting that middle stack a little lower…

I ended up with all of this spread across the bed. My powers of junk hoarding and compacting are unsurpassed. XD

Most of it is remnants of schoolwork, old projects, a few books, and the like–a childhood time capsule, if you will. I threw out all the obvious trash (such as a box of super-old Halloween candy corn…God only knows what year it was from, ugh), and carried the rest of the items down to the basement, where the Clutter Dragon’s infamous closet hoard is currently stashed.

A few avalanches of junk happened as I shifted the closet’s junk topography (LOL). This is one of the many little crashes I heard and saw as I moved junk and set it on the bed. Ah, the hidden dangers of cleaning! The closet never fails to try to attack me with the only weapons it has–clutter! 😛

The Shelf Finished at Last!

Finally, after moving all the junk off the bed, wiping down the shelves to get rid of any dust (or worse), and readjusting the remaining items, I had a finished third shelf in the closet. YAHOO! At last! I have yet to use the space I reclaimed, but I’m sure I’ll find something. You know me, there’s always a need for more storage in my room!

Next Week: The Part I Hate The Most

As I carried my burdens down to the basement, I realized something…the basement room is beginning to overflow with all this closet clutter. The LAST thing I need is for the Clutter Dragon to find a new home in my house! >:C

So, next week, you will see the true carnage begin, as I start to sort these remnants of childhood into “toss,” “keep,” and “sell/donate.” This is the part of de-cluttering that I have been avoiding for too long, and it can’t continue. If I don’t remove these items from the house in some way, then all this effort has just moved stuff around, like a kid avoiding eating vegetables by moving them around on the plate.

This is the takeaway lesson for this week, and for the weeks to come: if you want to de-clutter, then you have to actually GET RID of items. Hoarding them won’t make you happy, especially if you move them to another part of the house only to keep tripping over them. Stay tuned as I begin to toss, sell and donate items from the Clutter Dragon’s horrible cache!

Clutter Interlude: Finding the Stuff You Put Away

(Don’t worry, I’m still progressing on the Clutter Dragon Saga! I’m just taking a little time off to regroup before I continue my onslaught on the evil Closet of Hoarding. 😛 )

Today’s post is about a very important part of de-cluttering, one that most people don’t take into account. Once you’ve cleaned up and de-cluttered your space, what do you do with the stuff you chose to keep? And more importantly, how do you FIND it all again?

If you’re like me, you probably stuffed the “keepable” items into any convenient box and put them away willy-nilly, all in the name of “keeping them from getting stomped on/destroyed” in the savage process of cleaning. However, that approach doesn’t help you actually FIND those items you stored when you need them next.

How Do I Know This? I Lived It

A couple of days ago, I was sorting through my HeroClix collection, admiring the way I could now access them all because of the cleaner state of the closet. All was going well, until I realized something: where were my HeroClix character cards? These cards, printed alongside the newer HeroClix figures, are essential to gameplay…and they were ALL missing.

You can probably imagine what happened next. I began to tear through the closet shelves, searching through all those boxes I had haphazardly stuffed items into, praying fervently that I hadn’t thrown them away. “Surely I would have known better,” I kept thinking. “Surely I wouldn’t have gotten so carried away as to throw something like THAT away!”

What I was experiencing is every hoarder’s nightmare, and probably one reason I stayed away from de-cluttering for so long. It seems that every time I get the cleaning bug, I end up losing track of everything I want to keep–even to the point of “keepable” items getting accidentally thrown away.

In this case, however, the crisis was over within an hour, as I found the box of character cards in the closet–they were crammed behind a box of items utterly unrelated to HeroClix, and thus they were invisible to my panicked eye. But the panic soon resolved itself into indignation: why is it that I can always find things in a messy room, but never find things in a clean room?

The “Logical Place” Trap–It IS a Trap!

It never fails: when I’m cleaning and reorganizing, I handle each item, then put it away in a place that’s “more logical” than the place I had put it before. “Surely I’ll remember to find it here,” I always think. “This location just makes more sense.”

The problem? The “more logical” place is definitely NOT the place I’ve been keeping the item for years on end. Thus, I never remember to LOOK in the “more logical” place!

That was the problem with my HeroClix character cards. For four years, I’d kept the box of character cards on my blue plastic dresser (the one I cleaned off in this blog post). I honestly did not remember having moved them to the closet, though I figured I’d probably put them somewhere close to the HeroClix figures which were already stored in the closet. Nevertheless, when I began my panicky search, where did I look first? The top of the dresser.

Solution: List and Label Everything AS You Organize

Don’t save this step for last, and don’t be daunted by how big this task sounds. I will tell you now, if I had stopped and done this while I was cleaning, I could have saved an hour of hair-tearing panic.

#1: List Everything You’re Keeping and Note Its Location

As you clean and sort items into “keep,” “toss,” or “sell” piles, keep paper and a writing instrument handy. Note all the items that you’re keeping, and out to the side of each notation, write a short description of the place you’ve put it in, or where in the room you’ve placed it.

An example:

  • Scissors (top drawer of desk)
  • Gift cards (bright red shoebox, middle shelf of closet)
  • Program install discs for computer (green box, top shelf of closet)
  • Hair accessories (small white box, top of dresser)

…and my list could go on and on…but you get the idea.

#2: Label The Locations

Listing your items, however, is only half the process. Once you’ve listed where everything is housed, at least temporarily, then you’ll need to label the locations accordingly. (Post-It notes or some other kind of sticky notes are absolutely GENIUS for this.)

Why do you need to label every box and container? Because in the wake of your massive cleaning effort, you have made the room a very different place, so you need to ease the disorientation factor as much as possible. (Think you can’t be disoriented in a clean room? I beg to differ. I still wake up surprised that I can walk to my window without having to wade through junk. XD)

So, using the first example of gift cards in a bright red shoebox, I would stick a label reading “GIFT CARDS” on the box, somewhere where I can easily read it. Label every location (especially closed storage!) so that you can quickly scan through your newly-organized stuff and know where everything is.

Why Does This Solution Work?

Writing labels on Post-It notes or other easily-removable labels means that you won’t have to scratch through or tear off more permanent styles of labels (like Sharpie labels or typed labels). It allows you to have a more flexible system as you determine what locations truly are “logical” for certain items, and which items you actually do need access to more or less frequently. After you’ve gotten your organization system in place, you can add more permanent labels to your storage areas. But let the organization be a little more free-form, at least for a little while, so you can make a few changes even as you get re-familiarized with all your new, tidy storage places.

For instance, if you decide to take the gift cards out of the red box to put them in with the program install discs in the green box, all you have to do is remove the corresponding Post-It note from the red box and add it to the green box. Done! What could be easier than that?

Those of us who are not tidy/organized by nature (like me) have to have some time to get used to being organized, and the list of items plus the temporary labels do just that. It also helps you be aware of just how much stuff you have, and possibly points out unnecessary duplicates along the way.


De-cluttering does not have to lead to the new stress of losing track of your possessions! Keep your will to de-clutter alive by keeping track of your kept items, and labeling their new homes within your newly-tidy space. Believe me, it will make the whole process a lot smoother!

Slaying the Clutter Dragon, part 6: A Swipe at the Dragon’s Leg

As late as 4:00 yesterday, I resisted working on the next part of the closet, which I’d ambitiously assigned myself last week. Procrastination plus a stomach bug and a series of headaches kept me away from the task, and by Monday afternoon I was seriously doubting whether I’d even have a blog post for you this morning.

I even parodied this song with a few appropriate lyrics:

“Looking at the closet,
Feeling down, down, down
Looking at the closet,
Whew! Don’t wanna work now
Looking at the closet
Feeling down, down, down
Looking at the closet,
Whew! Don’t wanna work now

5:00 in the evening
I gotta get this blog post done
Lord, I’m so tired
I don’t wanna start this now

Because I’m looking at the closet
Feeling down, down, down
Looking at the closet,
Whew! Don’t wanna work now…”

LOL! But after staring at the huge mess that awaited me within the closet for a few minutes, trying to psych myself up to tackle it, my thoughts took a different tack. “What’s keeping me from working on this, really?” I wondered. “What’s so daunting about this?”

Then, my eye lit on this area, directly in front of one of the closet doors:

This pile of junk has been sitting in front of the closet door for a good while now (at least 3 years), and it blocks the door from swinging completely open. Plus, it makes standing in front of the closet very awkward. In a way, I dreaded working on the bottom section of the closet because I knew I would not have room to work or to even stand comfortably, let alone get anything constructive done.

So I decided to fix that, with the little amount of energy I had left to my name after the week I’ve had. If I couldn’t do the bottom of the closet this week, I reasoned, then at least I could remove the last obstacle to getting it clean so I could do better next time.

Picking Up, Cleaning Up, Et Cetera, Et Cetera

I began by picking up all the items from the floor, throwing away all the obvious trash and paper clutter as I did so, until my bed was covered again with keepable items:

Yeah, that all came from that area behind and kind of on top of the TV. Amazing how much JUNK I can cram into such few square feet of space! XD

LOOK AT THAT! I FOUND MY CARPET!!! [/inordinate amount of excitement]

But seriously, folks, this is the first time I’ve seen that corner’s carpet in several years. Once all the keepable stuff was up out of the way, and all the big garbage was dealt with, I could actually see the floor. Small victory, but a victory nonetheless!

Side Quest: Sweeping Up Packing Peanuts and Other Floor Clutter

Unfortunately, not only had I found my carpet, but I had also found a huge mess of packing peanuts back behind the TV. The only thing I can figure: at some point in the (distant) past, I had a shipping box full of packing peanuts set on top of the TV, and the box had overturned at least partially. The box was likely carted off, but the packing peanuts hid in the corner, just waiting for me to find them.

Yep, packing peanuts plus a few other random trash items…this was what lay behind the TV.

So I set about sweeping all these little nuggets up and out of the way, recruiting a broom, dustpan, and a tall kitchen trash can for the job. (Pro tip: get small floor clutter out of the way ASAP, otherwise you’re going to end up tripping over it the whole time you’re trying to get the “big stuff” done. Learn from my fail.)

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate packing peanuts? Especially when they randomly jump away from the broom because of static electricity, and end up underneath other furniture, underneath your feet, and pretty much everywhere BUT the dustpan? *sigh* LOL

Getting Back to Business

But finally, after lots of sweeping (and grumbling), I had a clean corner behind the TV. Now, all I needed to do was to move the TV so that the closet door could finally swing open fully.

…Yeah, you can see what began to happen as I moved the TV. Small closet avalanche, ahoy! xD But at least the door could finally swing open, which is a small miracle in my room these days.

With both doors now free to swing open, I took the liberty of arranging hanging hooks so that I could use the hanging space temporarily.

Newly-freed Closet Door #2 is now an impromptu coat closet, at least till I can make room for these coats elsewhere in the house.

As you can see, the doors do not close fully because of the junk still left on the floor of the closet (which I was too exhausted to start tackling yesterday). But they DO open fully, allowing me lots of room to work when I do start working on it!

Random Stuff I Found While Cleaning

The corner of the room seemed to be a trove of hidden gems. For instance:

I found this little beauty (an old half-dollar coin) trapped partly underneath the TV. 😀

This candle holder screen, with electronic candles, was a gift several Christmases ago–a gift which I thought I’d misplaced permanently. YAY for finding stuff! (Double wow: it’s not broken! :O)

Also found: a hoard of super-old makeup. This dates back to at least early high school (1999-2000). Need to toss, much? LOL

The Fruits of My Labors

After a little repositioning and closet configuration…

The corner was finally finished, or at least finished enough for now. At last, there’s space for the closet doors to swing open, and I can finally begin work on the bottom of the closet, where childhood lies in wait for me. 😛

Stay Tuned!

Next time, the bottom of that closet WILL be tackled. Hopefully. “Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise,” as my Nannie used to say. LOL!

Repurposing: Creativity at Work

When you clean out cluttered spaces, as I’ve been doing for the last four weeks, inevitably you end up finding items that you haven’t used in a while, or don’t need for their original purpose anymore.

But, instead of spending a ton of money re-buying things you think you need, you might be able to keep more of your money in your pocket by repurposing all the surprising treasures you’ve uncovered. This is where creativity comes into play–it’s an unusual outlet for creativity, I grant you that, but if it saves you money in the long run, why not try a few of these tips?

Step 1: Quick-Evaluate Every Item

While you’re cleaning out, give every item you find a once-over, and mentally answer the following questions:

  • Is it warped/broken beyond repair?
  • Is it too dirty to ever think of using it again?
  • Is it unable to be cleaned/sanitized?

These are “deal-breaker” conditions for repurposing. If it’s too broken or dirty, it may be better to just throw it out instead of wasting time trying to save it. (Trust me, sometimes it’s just not worth the effort…LOL)

However, if you run across an item that doesn’t meet any of this criteria, set it aside (preferably in a different room so you don’t accidentally throw it away) and keep working. Once you’re finished sorting clutter, come back to your gathered items for Step 2.

Step 2: What Could This Item Be?

Now for a little bit more evaluation–this time, you’re studying each item a little more closely. If you no longer want to use it for its original purpose, what could it be instead?

To jump-start your own “thinking-outside-the-box” repurposing process, here’s a couple of repurposing examples from my own cleanout sessions:

Example #1: The Towel Rack Turned Scrunchie Holder

I found this brushed-metal standing fingertip towel rack on clearance at Walmart and bought it, but it sat unused for a while…that is, until I realized I needed a way to display my hair scrunchies without having them strung all over the place.

I needed something to thread them on, something that was sturdy enough to hold them all but didn’t require me to dig through a box to find them. (This pic shows only a small sample of how many scrunchies I have…yes, I’m a child of the ’90s, why do you ask? LOL)

I’m aware that the terrible quality of this pic makes this look like a clown wig gone mad (LOL)…but this is actually how the towel rack looks with all my scrunchies threaded onto it. It works great for organization, looks nifty in the bathroom, and keeps all my scrunchies from getting lost/dirty.

Example #2: The Spice Rack Turned Perfume/Lotion Display

When I redid my bathroom organization, I ended up with a lot of perfume and lotion bottles, and nowhere to store them–or, should I say, no attractive way to store and display them. On a hunch, I went and bought this painted-metal spice rack from Walmart, noting that it had three stacking levels which left a little room for items underneath.

…And here’s the way it functions in my bathroom, holding all the perfume and lotion bottles I own. The graduated levels mean that I’m no longer trying to reach around several bottles to get to one; the bit of storage space underneath serves to tuck away countertop necessities when I need to.

Step 3: Prepare the Item for Its New Life

After you’ve figured out what you want the item to become, clean it up (dust, sanitize, etc.) and make sure it won’t break or come apart when it’s being used for its new purpose. The cleaning/sanitizing part is very important–you don’t want your “new” item making you sick! Also, if it’s got any small pieces that could pop off unexpectedly, check those and make sure those are reinforced. No need for any unpleasant surprises when you’re using your newfound item!

Once you’ve cleaned it up and made sure it’s tough enough to withstand a second life, you’re ready to put your old-new item to work! 😀


Cleaning and decluttering doesn’t have to mean that you’re throwing away everything. In fact, if you repurpose a few things as you clean and declutter, you can save yourself the trouble of having to re-buy materials in the first place. Always a good thing when you can save money and trouble!

Slaying the Clutter Dragon, part 5: Nitty, Gritty, and Dirty

This post about didn’t happen–but determination (and frustration/anger) won the day. 😀

Despite feeling generally awful all week (again, I was not about to let this project down in the middle. I’m a little bit infamous for that around the house–I get all gung-ho about a project, only to quit in the middle of it because I begin to lack the energy, support, and time to keep moving on it.

So, having conquered one shelf in the closet last week, I resolved to strike at the next shelf down, which you’ll see pictured below from left to right.

…Yeah. THAT’S what I had to tackle yesterday. I thought, “Well, okay, this will probably be a little more involved than last week’s effort, because there’s more stuff on this shelf, but I can still manage it.”

The (Gross) Discovery Lurking in the Closet

Well, I thought I could manage it easily, until I took the first big bin off the shelf. Below the big bin, which I thought contained everything on that part of the shelf, was a layer of junk. And not just any junk. Mouse-poo-covered junk.

I wanted to laugh, and then I wanted to cry. I used to love mice…now I wish I’d let my indoor cat run wild in my room and kill all the little critters so they wouldn’t poop all over everything. I really wasn’t prepared for the sheer amount of mouse poo, either. (I know this is disgusting to read–it was even more disgusting to confront!)

I was disgusted with myself for having let the closet get this way, and disgusted that I had to deal with this RIGHT NOW…ugh. I stood there thinking, “Really? I have to get into THIS and make sense of it? I have to TOUCH all this?”

Anger Takes the Place of Determination

After a few moments of mental whining and cringing, I finally just started pulling stuff off the shelves in a mad scramble for cleanliness–the things I was mumbling under my breath aren’t fit to be written here (LOL). The disgust and shock of what I had found had resolved itself into anger.

In the process of going all RAWR at the closet, this small avalanche of junk happened. In that angry state, I was just tearing toys and junk off the shelves, shaking off the dust and debris as best I could, so inevitably some of the stuff began to free itself of its own accord. I kept working, picking up the fallen stuff off the floor as well, until finally…

…I was left with these random little items. I didn’t really have a good place to store them all, but there they were–obstacles to wiping down the shelf and really getting it clean again.

*heroic music* But never fear! A random shoebox is here!

During one of my earlier episodes of Slaying the Clutter Dragon, I had found and kept a lot of small boxes like this one, knowing that I’d probably need them for organization and storage purposes. I thanked myself for this, now that I’d found myself in need of a tidy way to store these little knick-knacks.

A Tip for Fellow De-Clutterers

As you de-clutter, keep any sturdy empty boxes just for situations like this; you’re probably going to run across tons of little itty-bitty stuff that needs to be moved and sorted later. This way, you can store the small things neatly until you have time to sort them all out. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later, just like I did!

And this is what the bed looked like, after only half of the shelf was cleared. SIGH…junky, dusty bed, yet again… :c

Half The Shelf Conquered–The Other Half Remains!

With the aid of a couple of paper towels (one damp with cleaner and one dry), I finally had half the shelf dusted and wiped down of all the mouse poo. Now for the next part of the shelf, which consisted of two old closet storage system units. (Forgive the blurriness of this pic–didn’t realize it was this bad till I uploaded it from my phone. :/)

After moving one of the units, look what I found–two random, tiny laundry detergent boxes stuck behind it. *shrugs* Who knows? This is just more evidence that the mess in my room randomly gobbles stuff up and spits it out in the most unexpected of places. LOL

Once I moved the other (surprisingly heavy) storage unit, I finally had a fully clean shelf to work with (once I had wiped it down, of course).

Using the Newfound Space

Now that I had yet another empty shelf in the closet to work with, I was temporarily at a loss as to what to put on it.

As you can see, that temporary uncertainty was quite temporary, indeed! LOL!

For this shelf, I chose to store some miscellaneous items that keep getting lost in the piles of junk in my room. This shelf’s contents, like the rest of the closet in general, will likely change as I work with the other shelves and areas in my room, but for now these items are up and out of harm’s way.

Last Step: Dealing with the Bed

As always, the bed held all the junk I’d removed from the closet. But I learned my lesson from last week–this pile of junk was going downstairs to the basement immediately, so that it would not stand in my way of doing the next shelf.

About 10 minutes of hauling boxloads and armloads of junk downstairs ensued, in which I sweated about as much as I do at Zumba classes (LOL). But at last, the bed was clear, and the floor was clear. The stage was now set for my next challenge in the Closet of Horrors:

…Um, yeah. There’s a reason I’ve waited to tackle this until now. xD But I have less fear of it now. After all, if I get this closet floor cleared, I can actually close the closet doors for the first time in 20 years! GASP! :O

And all this closet clearage IS having an effect–the piles of junk are slowly getting smaller. Soon, all that junk will either be donated, thrown away, or stored in the closet. Oh, what a day that will be when my carpet I shall see! 😀

Slaying the Clutter Dragon, part 4: Blundering in the Dark

(This installment of the Clutter Dragon Saga brought to you by: sheer stubbornness and willpower.)

Illness, exhaustion, and my old friend procrastination teamed up on me this week, to keep me from sallying forth to strike at a single closet shelf. But by yesterday afternoon, I knew I could not wait any longer without disappointing myself and losing the rhythm of my accomplishments thus far.

So, around 4:30 yesterday afternoon, though I still felt under the weather, I began my clutter counterstrike, stumbling forward into a darkness of storage, which has held onto my girlhood much longer than I have.

Due to some freak fit of gravity, this little avalanche out of the closet had occurred at some point during the week. I got this out of the floor first, but put it aside carefully, since it had some items that actually needed to be back in the closet when I had room.

The REAL Work Begins: Clearing the Shelf

This first bit of shelf was cleared pretty easily, since it was only a couple of small boxes and a book or two. But I uncovered some evidence of mice (to put it as non-grossly as I can) lying about on the shelf, so I had to stop and disinfect the surface as well as I could before moving on.

Note to Fellow De-Clutterers

If you encounter such evidence of mice, which is unfortunately quite common when you’re cleaning up stuff that’s been sitting in the same spot for a while, BE CAREFUL how you handle it–it can make you sick! Use rubber gloves if possible, and make sure to use disinfectants in a well-ventilated space so you don’t get sick from fumes.

The second bit of shelf was much more difficult; not only was there more evidence of mice, but several toys from the shelf above attacked me as I removed items from the working shelf. (Guess they were defending their fellow toys from being removed from the closet? LOL!) Not to mention that when I tried to shift the largest box of toys, it began to vomit Lego pieces everywhere. xD

Disinfecting the shelf, defending my head from falling items, and picking up about a thousand Lego pieces slowed me down, but eventually, I did get that bit of shelf clean, too, as seen in the picture above. Small victories in the name of cleanliness!

The third part of the shelf was almost too easy after the near-disaster I’d had a few minutes before. There was only one box of toys left, and it was mainly big, soft stuffed animals. Once that was out of the closet, I disinfected the remaining surface, and was rewarded with this sight–one completely clear shelf in my overstuffed closet!

A Little Reward: Using the Newfound Storage Space

I had already planned what I wanted to store on this newly-cleaned shelf, so I had everything already picked out, stacked, and ready to be sorted.

From left: my Hawk & Dove comics collection; an old makeup box I used for Clix storage, which will be repurposed soon; computer doodads, install discs, and other techie paraphernalia, all in various gift and shoeboxes.

I was also able to store many small travel bags I’ve picked up over the years on this shelf. It’s a bit messy at the moment, but eventually I’m going to repurpose one of the small totes I recovered from the closet to store these properly.

This is where all the travel bags used to live–piled up beside the dresser, in a stack almost 3 1/2 feet high. Now you can nearly see the floor beside the dresser. It’s a tiny victory, but a victory nonetheless!

The three bins seen here (which I’ve been using for organization in the last couple of “Slaying the Clutter Dragon” installments) will stay in the closet, though their contents will likely change a lot between now and when I finally finish the closet reorganization. They fit well on the shelves and are easy to take down when I need them, thanks to the handles. (In fact, I’ll probably be getting a few more of them for other shelves, too!)

Work, Interrupted

As always, the bed ended up holding all the detritus from the cleared shelf–it’s literally a bed full of my childhood in this picture. LOL

In the beginning, I had planned to start sorting out which toys I wanted to keep for my own children vs. which toys I wanted to donate. Sadly, at this point my body sharply reminded me that I had been sick all week, and that if I didn’t want to be horribly sick/dizzy again in a few minutes, I should lie down as quickly as possible.

Thus…this had to happen:

Sigh. I worked so hard to clear that space in front of the closet, and now it just looks like my childhood puked all over the floor. xD Ah well, it was for a good cause. And actually, I can more easily pick up the work of sorting any time between now and the next installment of “Slaying the Clutter Dragon.”

(I even had to use some of the other bits of floorspace I’ve so painstakingly cleaned earlier in the series. Grr and grumble.)

But this is an important lesson of cleaning/straightening: you have to work with the space (and the physical energy) you’ve got, and you can’t expect every clean section of a room to stay clean while you work with other sections, especially if other sections are as cluttered as my closet.

The room isn’t absolutely finished till all sections are clean and straight–till then, it’s allowed to look like a work in progress. I can’t be mad at myself for making two giant steps forward, even if it looks like I’ve taken a giant step back. You fellow de-clutterers out there keep that in mind for your own clutter projects!

Next Week: Another Shelf, Another Pile of Childhood

Now that I have braved the horrors of dust, mice, and attacking toys, what else can possibly await me in the closet of horrors? Tune in next week to find out! 😀