(Hi, guys: This is the second in an occasional series on tackling clutter in small, easy bites. For the first in this series, go here.)
This is the bookshelf just to the left of my desk, in my family room. Until recently the shelving was an overly crowded, hodge-podgy mess of too much stuff, too little style. A few months ago I "fluffed" it, eliminating some of the clutter and concentrating on showing off vintage treasures and favorite books.
I really like the way it came out:
With less stuff crowding in, I can better admire my vintage things:
And my cute stuff, not necessarily vintage:
And some of my favorite decorating and gardening books:
BUT beneath the bookshelf lurks a cabinet...
...hiding this hideous mess. Ugh!
Even Won Ton seems distressed by the sight.
In this split-level mayhem and foolishness I find, on the top shelf, cut-out magazine articles, vacation memorabilia, boxes from phones I don't own any more...
...half-done crafting projects...
..and my will. My will? (Because it SO makes sense to store your Last Will and Testament next to your construction-paper crafts....)
The bottom shelf is a mish-mosh of family photographs, which must stay there for now. Some of them are matted but not framed. They're so large they can't go anywhere else. (Another day, I'll tackle them and get them framed and up on the walls. At least for now they're safe from dust and sunlight.)
So I'm giving myself a pass on the bottom shelf, which is another project for another week.
So, back to the junk on the top shelf. First step to any clutter-busting project:
1. Drag everything out. And I do mean everything. Because if you don't, you can't very well do the next step:
2. Dust or clean it as needed. Now, clear an area nearby (a tabletop or even a section of the floor will do, if you don't have pets or kids). Proceed to the next step:
3. Sort like things into piles. Sometimes you don't know what piles you're going to have until you get going. Don't worry; your ability to sense patterns, drilled into you in grade school, will kick in. Soon you'll be sorting like a professional six-year-old!
I found I had the following piles:
Magazine articles (fashion, self-help, and just pretty pictures),
Family wills and inventories (mine and my parents'),
Antiquated CDs (computer games the kids played when they were little), and
Two old cell phones (instructions and packing materials included).
4. Put back only what makes sense to go there. And that means, by extension...
5. Put everything else someplace that makes more sense. And the job is not finished until you do this critical, fifth step. Otherwise, you've just moved clutter around from one spot to the next. So, in my case, that meant:
o Crafts materials: File one cabinet over to the left, where all crafting stuff is supposed to stay.
o Magazine articles: Tuck into my "To Be Filed" file. (Seriously one of the more genius things I ever came up with.) A "To Be Filed" file means you KNOW it's supposed to go somewhere else, but you can't do it right now, and you don't want to derail yourself from the project you're on, and someday a month or two from now you'll brew yourself a big pot of something caffeinated and file away for hours like you did during that first, lousy job you ever had, when you were a File Clerk and you ruined your cuticles jamming sh** into manila folders 8 hours a day, all summer long.
These also got moved:
o Wills and inventories: Onto my desktop, where I can see them and remember to work on them (my holiday present to The Hubby is to inventory every single blinking thing in the house, for insurance).
o Vacation stuff: Back into the "Vacation" cabinet, from whence it slithered out, I don't know how.
o CDs and cell phones: Into the "Donate" box.
All that was left--and made sense to store in the cabinet--was the box and instructions to my current phone and a 3-hole punch.
So here's what the shelf looked like after:
(The white brackets are from years ago, when the top shelf could be pulled up and out of the cabinet to hold a typewriter.)
Remember, I'm taking a pass--for now--on the lower shelf, filled with photos waiting to be framed.
I also unearthed three storage things that I wasn't really using. The magazine holder, I realized, gives me the creeps because it is made of unfinished, raw wood. Every time I touch it, I shudder. I hate the feel of it. So it will go into the "Donate" box, too:
And there you have it. An almost completely empty space, with several nice storage bins, waiting for whatever else it makes sense to put there.
But only if it makes sense.