What if we give it away?

Yesterday The Genealogist and I spent a lot of time organizing shit.  I can’t remember if I mentioned the spreadsheet he started for all the jobs we want to do around the house?  No?  Well let me enlighten y’all. 

Since we’ve moved into our house – in 1999 – we haven’t done a whole lot of organization.  This might seem mindblowing to some of you – as in how can we possibly have lived in our house for over ten year and NOT organized it?  Others among you might be in the same kind of boat as we are.  The boat of “we are moving to a new house with an 22-month old child and we are about to have another and so why don’t we just pile these boxes here in the attic/basement/storage areas and we’ll get to them eventually”.  The problem with THIS style of organizing is that it doesn’t actually ever happen.  And so, over the years, as we’ve accumulated more stuff the stuff has started to take over.  And because we spent several years with babies, toddlers, preschoolers, schoolers…you get the picture…we never managed to carve out a good chunk of time to really get at this stuff.  Until now.

So on New Year’s Day (approximately) we sat down and went through all the jobs and projects we want to do.  Ever.  Like as in ever.  Not “we want to do this particular thing this week or this month”.  No, these are jobs we have been wanting to tackle since 1999 (approximately) and so obviously there are no timelines attached, because that would be too much pressure.  So we have a spreadsheet with tasks now.  Everything from “clean out the cabinet under the TV that houses the DVDs” to “find someone to repair or demolish our garage, whichever is cheaper and more realistic”.  So big jobs and little jobs and everything in between.

Yesterday we started on a few of the littler jobs.  We purged and organized the DVDs, sorting them into ours and theirs (the kids’); I cleaned out the cabinet under the stereo which has a metric tonne of assorted crap wedged in there, plus all our booze.  Most of which was expired or at least really, really nasty.  The kitchen smelled like a university party – you know where everyone is drinking something different – caesars, blue curacao, vodka, beer, etc.?  And it all mingles together?  Yeah, just like that.  Awful.  But!  Purging, right?! 

I also rearranged and purged our main floor linen cabinet, where we store placemats, tablecloths, etc. and managed to clear out a few shelves and now the door closes properly too.  Progress!

So to recap, three cabinets in the living room.  Cleaned, organized and purged.

It might not seem like a lot but sweet jesus on a cracker was I excited to have it all done.  And the amazing thing is that when I finally got to sit down with a glass of wine after dinner and watch the end of the football game, I felt…lighter, somehow.

I have read many, many articles about organization and purging and decluttering, and one of the common themes is how eliminating clutter can be good for your soul.  Which, ok, might seem a little “out there” but it does make sense.  Clutter – particularly on the floor, or low down to the ground can drag down your spirit.  Think of anyplace where you have a lot of crap on the floor – hallways full of shoes maybe?  Or a storage room without proper shelves so there are boxes everywhere?  It really can be a little demoralizing.  So the neat thing about cleaning and organizing the three cabinets is that even though the doors are closed, I can still visualize the insides – where everything is stacked neatly.  It used to be that I would visualize the insides and get depressed because I knew that if I had to open a door for some reason, shit would fall out everywhere and I wouldn’t have time to do anything more than shove it all back in to deal with another day. 

I suppose this is just a longwinded way of saying “FUCK YEAH ORGANIZATION ROCKS!”

And you know, it’s easy to say why didn’t you just do it all right in the first place, except that life doesn’t always allow you to do what you want, or even to do what you know you should do.  Sometimes you have to wait until the time is right.  And for us, the right time is really now – now that our kids are a bit more self-sufficient so we can spend time digging through shit and not have to worry that someone is going to need a nap or a bottle or a diaper change or a snack or….you know what I’m saying?

So rather than kick ourselves for letting it get this out of control, we are in the process of taking control and we’re loving doing it too.  And we’re getting the boys involved as well, sort of training the next generation of purgers maybe?  Hell, I would be happy if they just learned how to put their clothes in dresser drawers…

It really is a good feeling to have been able to check a bunch of jobs off our list – or, as is the case with our spreadsheet, change to strikethrough font!  And I think the best feeling is that we were able to salvage a lot of stuff to give away – either to Goodwill, or to our friendly neighbourhood day-before-garbage-and-recycling-day peeps.  Your neighbourhood probably has them too – people who check out what other people are giving away?  We put an old printer, VCR and computer on our front lawn and this morning only the VCR and the computer monitor were still there.  And, as I was leaving for work, someone was taking the VCR.  With all of the purging we did, we still managed to only half-fill one garbage bag.  Everything else was recycled or, as I mentioned, boxed to take to Goodwill (or put on the lawn for any and all takers).  So that feels pretty good too.  We have less clutter, a few people will benefit from the things we no longer need/want, and we didn’t even really contribute much more to landfill.  All in all a successful day.

We managed to strike off 6 of the 60+ jobs that our spreadsheet now holds.  It might not seem like an awful lot, but to us it’s huge.  And we can’t wait to get more done next weekend.

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