Thursday, April 02, 2009

Cluttered House, Cluttered Mind

I loved my rooms in college, I loved that they were mine (I always had singles) and that I didn't have to pack to go anywhere mid-week (I went back and forth between my parents' houses growing up).  I loved setting everything up, giving everything a home, and then living any way I wanted.  And then at the end of every year, I cleaned it all out, packed it up, and got to do it all over again the next year.

I've learned over the years that I tend to not like to throw things away.  Some things with sentimental value I understand keeping (and I finally bought a box to stash them in).  But other things... like the bear I got for free when I signed up for an airline miles card.  I just can't throw away a stuffed animal, don't have it in me.  I guess I can toss it to the dog to take care of... And then there are the tins that special edition video games came in.  I guess I can store stuff in them.  There's the basket for a plant... I could get a plant for it.  And a spray bottle from when we were training our last dog.  And a random red triangle paperweight thingy that I think might be JP's (and thus I must ask him before tossing it).

But see how it then happens that the clutter remains?  If I can find any reason to use something or want to refer to something in the next few years I'll keep it.  And then of course if I need it, I'll either forget I have it or can't find it and have to buy a new one.  And it all piles up.  Baskets of cords and chargers, old magazines, a million short story magazines.

When I was in college, my favorite procrastination technique was to clean my room.  I was never more organized and put together then when I had a paper due.  Over the years, however, I've found other procrastination techniques... like the internet, chatting, television.

I've definitely one of those people who starts to feel it when the house is in disarray.  I may not realize how much it impacts me, but slowly over time I just realize that I feel a little antsy, a little out of sorts, a little off.  And then I realize that it's because there's clutter everywhere.

But not anymore!  Now that I have three deadlines May 1, I figure it's an excellent time for some hard core procrastination.  I thought about posting updated pics on Twitter ... and if y'all promise not to judge the state of my "pre-cleaned and pre-organized" house then I will.  Maybe that will give me more accountability :)

So are any of y'all of the pack-rat variety?  What do you find yourself keeping?  How do you get over it and throw it away?  Any tips??


Martha Flynn said...

I'm blessed with a heartless detachment to (non-book) material goods. My husband was so sad when I tried to throw away my wedding dress, but it was just a fluffy piece of material, right? I've been in my fair share of homeless-inducing natural disasters so I'm a pro at leaving things behind.

And cleaning was your FAVORITE? I'm so glad you've found normal ways to procrastinate!

Aun-Juli said...

I've been a pack rat for as long as I can remember. Somehow, I always found a value or a memory in certain things. Usually papers. I imagined, though, if I stuffed enough things into boxes and hid them in my closet, storage or a garage that it would get rid of the mental clutter. There are times when I realize how the clutter is affecting my mind, and just go through the entire house and clean it up. I think I only do it when there is an urgent feeling.

I've since come around when it comes to holding onto things. After a recent eviction where I had a teeny amount of time to get things out, I left almost 75% of everything I owned behind. It cured my need to hold onto everything.

I was able to get all of my books out, even if I left mostly everything else behind. :]

PS. I bought your book a week ago. I read it a few days ago, and I loved it! I can't wait for the next. :)

Anonymous said...

I've always thought about a messy house in regard to writing - more specifically rewriting. I have the hardest time rewriting/revising AND the hardest time organizing stuff. To me, they go hand-in-hand. "Oh but I love this sentence/teddy bear/card/letter..." Isn't rewriting a form or organizing as well??

--Linda in KS

P.S. I'm 100 pages into your book and LOVE it so far...

Unknown said...

I'm such a pack-rat. But I'm also pretty no-worries/Bob Marley. So I pack up everything, and if I look around and feel cluttered, then I look at a stack of stuff and think, "Hm, if I haven't needed it yet, I never will," and toss it all away without going through it.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I used to be a major packrat, but I've moved so many times over the past few years that I've had to declutter just to stay sane.

Anonymous said...

we've moved 5 times in the past 5 years, and that's always a good excuse to purge. Our rule has always been, if you haven't used it or looked at in the past year, it's freecycle time!

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