Suddenly a strange, panicky feeling has invaded my being. Like the birds gathering to fly south or the squirrels frantically running around storing nuts for the winter, a great force of nature seems to be overtaking every fiber, readying the nest for winter. Part of this could be the weeding out and lightening up that happens as people age (aren’t we supposed to?) or maybe it’s just seasonal. I feel a tremendous urge to get rid of Stuff. Or flee. Since fleeing is not an option, addressing the pack rat behavior that has contributed to every available surface being covered with crap seems to be the only solution.
So as not to be overwhelmed and thwarted by the massive job ahead of me (from attic to basement and everywhere in between) I decided to begin with drawers, and only one set of drawers a day. Working beyond that is optional, but at least one drawer or closet a day is The Rule I have set out for myself. Since some of this has to be done in the evening after work, it makes even more sense that it should be done slowly, so as not to discourage.
On Day One I began with the night stand next to the bed, which is an old oak office end table which contains four drawers. On top of the this sat a stack of mostly unread magazines that I was “going to get to”, twelve magazines to be exact. I thought the subscription ran out, but they keep coming and I can’t just throw them out without reading them, can I? Would you? I can keep a couple in the car for when I get stuck waiting somewhere, right? On top of those magazines sat three books, one started and put aside, one in progress, and one up next in the queue. In between all of that was my iPad, which has since become a major distraction to getting anything done, but that is another story. Removed all but two most recent magazines, left the books and iPad. Inside drawer number one was easy, just miscellaneous garbage, including three bottles of melatonin (was I not sleeping, or just planning to re-adjust my circadian rhythms?)
Drawer two and three contained socks. Packed to the top with socks. Socks for all seasons, in all weights and colors. This became a little more daunting and I had to pare it down to “when is the last time I wore these?” and “what might these match with?” Hole-y socks into garbage, cute but not needed socks put away for sister and/or daughter to see if interested. Even with that, there are still too many socks in the drawer. I could wear a different pair every day for a month at least and not have to do laundry. Really. I might have to return to this for a second run later on, because the photo of the sock drawer is the “after” photo. So you can only imagine. But for now, at least the drawer shuts.
Drawer four no big deal, some nightshirts. Felt like I had a handle on it.
On Day Two, after work, I only tackled the very tiny drawer in the computer table, which barely shut for all the crap in it. The drawer is 10″x 13″ and only 4″ deep, and I am sharing this detail only because I want you to be really impressed when I tell you what I found inside. I was able to measure this drawer right now because there happens to be not one, but two tape measures in it. In addition, there are five solar-powered pocket calculators and one solar desk calculator lying in the bottom of this tiny drawer. Think someone has trouble with math here? Eleven note pads (to jot things down). Twenty-seven pens (to write on those eleven note pads). Assorted wires to electronics unidentified. Two automatic light timers (for all those times we are supposed to go away but never do). A rather cool sheet of 39 cent stamps depicting the biggest, oldest, longest, things in the United States . Facts like the oldest mountains (the Appalachians), the largest rodent (the American Beaver….if you were wondering). But mostly, what this drawer was stuffed with was those return labels you get in the mail with your name on them. You know, the ones with iridescent snowmen, metallic American flags, pink breast cancer awareness ribbons, endangered trees and flowers. The ones you are planning to send donations to because you are guilty about keeping the address labels. And you can’t throw them out because, well, your name is on them. These presumably are to affix to the envelopes of all the bills I need to pay, the holiday cards I will send out, and the correspondence I plan to send by snail mail. I threw out half of them and saved the nicest (for some cards and bills….). So, OK, seriously on a roll now. This drawer now shuts. Maybe nobody can see it, but I know I am getting lighter by the minute.
The plan is to run through every drawer and closet in the house, in addition to clearing off the tops of furniture at the same time. Anyone up for joining me on the Pack Rat Project? I know you’re out there, mired in your own stuff. How about it? Will keep you posted on my progress.
You are inspiring me to take on this task! I am a total pack rat and would love to reduce the clutter in my house; maybe you can push me along with you……
Definitely hop on! Maybe we can keep our momentum going if we get enough pack rats to join us…….
Good for you I say. Wish I had my newest client’s e-mail so i could send her this. she would get a kick out of it. I have been sitting with her (literally) while she does this very thing, the difference being, in every closet she had bags (3-6) of paperwork to go through. I do this type of cleaning and organizing for a living and it is frustrating to have to basically just sit and watch her anxiousness every time i put anything in the garbage. there is a fine line in how one can encourage a person to throw out, say 4 out of five magnifying glasses…the outdated pink eye medicine etc.
I feel what you are doing, and again…kudos!
Well, thank you for the encouragement. I haven’t gotten to the closets full of bags of paperwork yet……..
About a month ago I decided to get working on my sewing room – it is really the only room in the house whereI feel the clutter closing in. I made a huge dent – I worked for about 8 hours. Somehow it looks less cluttered, but I can see another 20 hours worth of work waiting for me in here. The 8 hour marathon was an attack on all floor areas, my worktable, my desk, and my “waiting area” – which has all of the projects that are waiting for their turns. While all of these areas are now somewhat sorted out, they are definitely not finished. I do have room to work now, so that at least the “waiting area” can be seen to. There is still the top shelf of my desk, the floor next to the closet, and worse – THE CLOSET. I keep telling myself that it will get cleaner as soon as I finish the waiting projects.
My real desire is to win the lottery so that I can hire somebody to organize the room for me. I think if I could get a Professional Organizer I could maybe keep it clean.