One of the major challenges in my life is the chaos in my home. For years, I managed to keep it at bay (albeit, admittedly, barely), but in the debacle that was last year it laid siege to everything and won a convincing victory.
A few weeks ago, I admitted defeat and called a professional organiser.
She was amazing. She came this morning and spent 3 hours with me.
The goal, she says, is to get rid of 60% of our stuff. Except the games. I’m not convinced by 60% but suspect it may be an ambit claim.
We talked about why I want to get rid of this stuff (teach the kids better habits than I have, feel comfortable inviting friends over, feel more comfortable in my own space) and agreed a plan of attack. The study’s the first room we need to get right, because
(a) it is actually, technically, my office;
(b) it had the most complete mess in it;
(c) it will be a really usable room when it is done; and
(d) it has lots of storage space, if only we could get to it.
So we started in there.
Now, she was here for 3 hours in total, including about an hour of chit-chat (OK, project planning) at the start and another 15 minutes at the end.
We completely filled 4 120-litre rubbish bins. 2 of recycling, 2 of rubbish. Fraser may kill me slightly as there may not be room for the kitchen rubbish bin to go out on Thursday night. oops.
We also sent an enormous box of stuff to the Op Shop, gave away a huge vacuum cleaner (my mother will kill me if she ever finds out, but no-one else will), rang a friend and arranged for her to collect the high chair for her baby, and arranged for my brother to collect a bag of his old University notes (why do I have these? No idea!).
We did not throw out anything I was sorry to lose. Well, anything that I was logically sorry to lose. Lots of my grade 4 textbooks went, as well as all the drafts of my Honours thesis (I still have the final version). I even threw out the drafts of the Masters that I stopped after I got back from Austria, and an apparently unread newspaper that I bought in Frankfurt on my way home from that year. I won’t miss them.
The room is not finished. We’ll be in there again in two weeks’ time – but we’ll be rearranging the furniture to make sure I can get to the bookshelves. After that, I suspect there will be a third session looking at the bookshelves themselves and identifying what can go – half of them are floor-to-ceiling paperwork at the moment.
And then it will be off to another room – I’m keen to do the spare room, because once that is done it is reasonably easy to KEEP done. And I’d like to put in shelving like we have in the study, or do the gamer thing and buy BILLY – with the extensions, they are higher than our current shelves and would let us do much much more with the space. I think the spare room should only take a session or so.
There are many boxes of Fraser’s stuff, which I am not really game to touch. Most of it, though, could be moved up into the roof (it’s currently stored in boxes in the cupboards) – and then we would regain use of those cupboards for the stuff that we DO use. It’s a real juggling act, because we have to make room before we can actually start to put things away.
At the end of the session, I was completely knackered. Still am – I feel as though I have been awake for 20 hours at this point. I feel great, though.
My homework is to sort through Otto’s clothes, identifying clothes to KEEP and GET RID OF (op shop, give away, ebay, whatever – just do it). Then reduce them so they actually all fit in her chest of drawers (which is in the study for historical reasons – just roll with it here).
The best moment was when we both decided, at much the same time, to get rid of my old hat stand. We put it out on the footpath in the hope that someone might want it – and within an hour, I was asked by a passing stranger whether it was OK to take it. Yes please, I replied, holding back a gleeful chuckle.
This is such a good thing for me right now. Instead of telling me off for being messy, she saw straight away that our problem is that we have Too Much Stuff. (well, and that we are messy too). And we’re working on that.