Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Video: I Can See My Desk! On Clearing Clutter

I have a problem. With clutter. And paper. And magazines. And books. They pile up. I start to hate them. But I can’t throw them out. Because I never know. When I might need them. Eric told me that I was a slave to my piles of paper and books, and that in throwing some out and organizing them, I would liberate my soul. So last weekend I got serious about cleaning my desk. NOW I can show it to you.

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  • Lisa K

    Congratulations! It looks Maaavelous! Well, I am a neat freak and although I do have some things stacked, I have such a small space for my home office that I haven’t quite got it where I want it. I’m always reading those darn articles for ways tomake things fit and work together, Read my journal note on being anal lol. I’m lucky inthat I do have a home office and a work office. Sometimes the two cross, but not often enough to make a difference. Feel great about yourself, Therese you are liberated! Now if I could just make that one last book fit……

  • Mystic Butterfly

    Will you please come to my house and organize me??? lol

  • Valentine

    Then there is me…
    *My spices are alphabetized.
    * All the labels on products in my kitchen cabinets and refrigerator have to be facing front and arranged by height.
    * All my drawers look like the gap store.
    * When I wear a pair of tennis socks I push the others to the front and place the newly washed ones in the back (so they’ll get even wear.)
    * All my closets (two walk-ins and 3 regular size)have to have the same type hanger and ,of course, arranged into sub-sections : 1st.seasonal; blouses,sweaters,skirts,dresses are then arranged by length of sleeve/ hem etc. and as close as I can get them to Red, orange,yellow etc.
    The list could go on and on and on. My former therapist said it was a “Control” (ya’ think!) issue stemming from not having control in my personal life (E.G. childhood, cancer, widowed twice.)
    My friends LOVE it. Guess who always gets invited for lunch or a swim, or just come on over to hang-out? And truth be told…I love doing it. We’ve all had many laughs through the years on sharing whose “clutter” made my teeth itch the most that season.
    And, yes Mystic Butterfly, if you needed me to de-clutter you, I would be at your house in a heartbeat! But you make lunch. :-)

  • Margaret Balyeat

    Another shaed trait!(They cease to amaze me anymore.) I’m SO thankful that my computer’s speakers/volume are no working so I could both watch AND listen to this video! Oddly enough, some of MY clutter had fallen down behind my computer and knocked out the wiring; all it took was discovering that and plugging them back in! Great in terms of expense (none) but a real indictmet of my workspace which is currently in my bedroom. I had a great home office in my last apartment, but my space here is much more limited, so double duty is a requirement rather than an option. :-( My classroom was always well organized at the bginning of each semester, but it too suffered clutter as the weeks rolled by. Fortunately, my last few building administrators understood that I knew where everything was even if they didn’t and as long as I included detailed notes in my sub folder so that a substitute could locate necessary materials, they pretty much left me alone about it. I’ve read before that creative minds are rarely tidy, so that was my adopted excuse. Nothing irritted/irrittes mr=e more than someone else “organizing my stuff; it always takes me extended periods of frustration because I can;t find anything! (something I’ve had to learn to livewith of late since my caregiver/friend does the tidying up around here as I can;t lift and carry with only one working arm. I DO understand the correlation between a cluttered environment and a cluttered mind, but I also believe that some of us actually function BETTER if left to our own unique “filing systems”. Call it rationalization if you like, but I truly DO believe there’s some validity to that point of view.
    After necessarily going through my parents’ home following my father’s death (My mother had already been gone eight years when he died) DID inspire me to try and organize myself a BIT better; it took us WEEKS to sift through, sort and declutter the accumulations from thirty-eight years of marrage. Both were packrats, just of different things. My mother had a lifelong habit of stashing small amounts of money in various places so that she wouldn’t ever be TOTALLY without cash, so we had to carefully examine EVERYTHING before makind the throw/keep decisions. When all was said and done, we found over $150.00 stashed away, much of it in the old pure-silver coins. She also had many tw-dollar bills hidden in–of all places–her Bible! Her boxes of recipe clippings were multitudinous as well and family photograps were just thrown together in shoe boxes and drawers; no rhyme or reason that we could discern. She HAD semi-organized the momentos she had saved from our childhood; we found an accordian file on each of us including all of our report cards from first grade upward, samples of schoolwork/drawings, newspaper clippings which highlighted important events in our lives ( programs from andeviews of school productions in which we’d had a major role) and cards/notes we’d each made or written for/to her as children. It was fun going through those and glimpsing the children/teenagers we’d been, especially reading the handwritten comments made on report cards by our elementary school teachers. I learned I tended to be bossy and disorganized,LOL even in first grade! She also had the first”book” I’d ever written(second grade), which was a real hoot: ‘Bumpy the Elf Helps the Fairy Princess’ complete with illustrations and a volume of poemsfrom my Emily Dickinson-inspired period! Even found a telegram she’d received when I was born from which I learned that I’d originally been (unofficially) named Rebecca susan rather than Margaret Louise, something I’d never known. (And probably could hae lived another fifty years without knowing) She also had a folder of letters and newspaper clippings from my father’s WWII service (small town newspapers reported such things as visits home on leave or the awarding of honors. (Daddy was the fastest pole climber in his batallion and was awarded the bronze star for valor, another unknown tidbiot since he HATED talking about that time in his life as mny veterans did/do. One of my sisters took all of his medals/battle ribbons and has used them to help ornament her Christmas tree along with Mama’s costume jewelry. We unearthed the forty-eight star flag that my grandparents had flown during the watrin honor of my father and his brother who were both serving overseas, the “gold stars” families displayed in windows to announce their sons’ service to all who passed by and several letters Daddy had received from my mother, my grandparents and his sisters. HIS junk tended to be old machine parts, loose nuts bolts, nails and screws,old electrical cords and the like. They had both an attached and an unattached garage; BOTH were brimming with “man junk” Fishing flies, empty shotgun shells etc. ABOUNDED. My sisters and I all pledged to each other and ourselves that we wouldn’t leave that kind of mess behind for OUR kids to deal with, but I fear that I’ve not done a very good job of living up to that resolution. As you said, Therese, you never know when you’re going to want or need something. Rest assured, though it will happen shortly after you’ve tossed i; I’ve been there both professionally and personally. This post has reminded me that I need to deal with my “stuff” before my appointed time arrives. Then again, why deny my Ryan the same fun I had finding old “treasures”? LOL, kmow what HE’D say!!! Thanks forpointing out to me ONCE AGAIN that I have a job to do; mybe this time I’ll actually DO it!

  • Lynne

    Must be in the air…I HAD to clean my house yesterday. It was one of those look around one evening when I finally had some time to actually absorb it. What the hell hit this!? I myself am a sporadic cleaner. I just don’t have the wherewithall to get it done after work. It’ll build up a bit (mind you not by most people’s standards but remember I am the product of two quasi-OCD’rs) and then I have to go through like the proverbial “white tornado”. The only bummer is given two days and two dogs later it’s back to the land of Chaotica! Oh well if activity is the enemy of depression…I’ve got plenty to keep me busy!!!

  • Paula

    Margaret (aka Rebecca Susan) :)
    Loved your story. My father’s a packrat too (must be where I get it from) and my brother’s and I have spent several weekend days cleaning and de-cluttering his house (he still lives there) because we don’t want to deal with it ‘someday’ when he passes on.
    Mostly non-sentimental items….how one man can have over 100 pairs of socks is beyond me….but also bittersweet because there were many things left in the house from when my mother left him in 1987.
    Disgustingly enough there were packaged foods and canned foods from that very same year that my father just never took care of. He either ate out at restaurants or with his “lady-friend” whom he has lived with off and on over the last 17 years. He moved back into his house recently after they split up and also due to some mobility issues (she had a condo with 2 flights of stairs) and that’s when we stepped in to try to de-clutter his life. It’s made me re-examine my cluttered ways….the issues I have with letting go of “things”. Like Therese I am an information hoarder…I have a hard time getting rid of magazines. I also love pretty pictures of how I wish my house and garden looked, so I can’t get rid of those shelter magazines either….”someday” I always think….for some of us, getting rid of things we identify with is akin to throwing away part of ourselves. I think that is why it is so hard.

  • Larry Parker

    I just want your home office, cluttered or uncluttered …

  • Karen

    The organization is great, but bad fung shei in putting those shelves over your sofa! You still have the “weight” of the books “over your head” if you are sitting on the sofa. Also, fear of the shelves falling…move the sofa and put a table under the shelves!

  • Lui

    I watched the video, I read the responses and about died laughing. I have a sister who has made a career out of understanding and humorizing OCD (God love her, she is a wonderful person) and a daughter and sister who cannot possibly understand what clean means if their lives depended upon it. I myself am a “sporadic” cleaner but often and more frequently as I age, get to the point when I have had enough and I want to get rid of not only the clutter but the dogs and the beasties and the grandchildren that made the mess…then I realize most of it was me. I am in too much of a hurry and when I open mail I “deal” with it by setting in on the bookcase or shelf to deal with later and then I forget until it is dust bunny central, I leave my student’s homework in a pile until I am ready to grade and then it goes into another pile until I redistribute, and I tend to tear little quips out of magazines to support my coursework (I am a college professor.) In spite of the many time management and organizational courses I have completed over the course of my lifetime, I have mastered nothing but pileology and have collected enough Certificates of Completion to successfully wallpaper the bathroom – which needs to be cleaned.
    To properly appreciate this stance however, you must understand that I married to a man who is meticulous – or rather was until I corrupted him into slobovian living – at least by his standards. His desk is neat, his pictures square, his 3,487 pieces of note paper, all with equally important tidbits about his customers carefully documented in his extremely neat left-handed script are all stacked, color coordinated and accounted for and by heaven he KNOWS if I have been sitting at his desk because there will invariably be something amiss. I have the habit of taking off my shoes and leaving them where I was sitting and not being able to find them in the morning because one of our friendly four-leggeds has roamed about at night with one or both locked securely in their jaws for safekeeping. My husband has a shelving unit with all three pairs of his carefully cleaned and groomed shoes stacked appropriately by order of importance to his daily work life. My clothes are categorized in drawers by What Not to Wear on the Outside, What to Wear to Work, What Not to Wear to Work and If You Wear that In Public I Will Be Humiliated (that one was channeled from my mother); my husband has a drawer for underwear, a drawer for socks all neatly lined in rows, a drawer for jeans and a drawer for T-shirts – and a drawer for backups. He invariably has at least 12 pair of socks and underwear in packages never opened just as a back-up in case of…well I’m assuming in case the dryer somehow manifests its other personality and becomes a cloth eating beast – I don’t know I’m afraid to ask for fear it will really be the result of my failing to de-lint the filter or something equally as damning.
    I love my husband completely and he loves me and it is a good thing otherwise we would probably kill each other. He is not nearly as bad as he sounds, I just like to point out the fact that I’m the one with the problem and to properly show that I use our contrasting natures. I don’t know that there is any right and wrong methodology to establishing and maintaining a clean home, although he insists that his way is the right way, and that’s fine because I have learned that the secret to comfortably living a peaceful life with someone like this is ask them – nay BEG them – to show you how to do what they want done. By the time they are done and they turn to you and say – “Now doesn’t that look nice?” you can honestly say yes, and forget about it for another…six months.

  • Margie W

    Hi. I am interested in organizing my rooms too; We have approximately 500+ books, most of them non-fiction, many of them similar to your interests. We are planning to sell many of them via Amazon soon. Anyway, you had an intelligent look and that is good. All those spiritual books are coming through. Thank you for your brainstorm suggestion; makes me want to write and tape a lot of brainstorm ideas. If you’d like to chat on religion (I’m a spiritual teacher), email me.

  • Margaret Lee Lyles

    To Margie W: You said to e-mail you, so here goes! I can identify with our love of books, esp spiritual ones. Have you read: Reiki and You: Awakening the Healer Within? I think you would love it.
    Margaret Lee L. March 20, 2008 4:08 PM

  • JDV

    I found your video very informative, realistic and ambitious. I happen to have a “pack rat” obsession/compulsion in addition to my manic depressive disorder. At this time both are in control with the appropriate maesures. I wanted to let you know how great your video came across to me. So very energetic and positive natured. I Hope all of your weekends are filled with formitable undertakings and fun. Thanks for the incentive. Johanna

  • ChatteringMind

    I’ve been spending a huge amount of time clearing and cleaning my basement as of late. Wow! I’m nearly born again. I got so much cleared out of my old office that I hired a guy to paint the walls in there a nice shade of red. Then we also painted the floor (greener than the teal I wanted it to be, but still pretty good)! If you can’t clear your clutter out on your own, get help! I found an organizational consultant who is pleasant to work with and really tough. “What is this?” she asked me as she held an old pencil tin i’d purchased at a flea market. “Oh, that’s a cute pencil holder,” I said. “Well,” she said, “it’s going to Salvation Army.” Gulp. She’s got my number. Everyone neeeds a decluttering buddy now and then! I recommend it. Thanks Therese for bringing up the link between clutter and mental health. Your place looks great!

  • Annie Turner

    I need to clean up my desk; as well as room. But things always come up that get in the way of me doing it. Watching the video has put a little flame under my tail. I’ll do a little each day this week & next weekend it should be all done. I’ll & you pray too that I can keep to it.

  • Cheryl

    Therese: Thanks so much for making the video on clearing your clutter. I have bought many a woman’s magazine thinking that would magically cure me of information hoarding, but, surprise, no such luck! I was dreading the coming weekend of trying to track down the papers I need to file taxes for myself, my mom, and my college aged daughter because it’s a game of hide and seek among the piles of papers. Your encouragement came just in time and I will try to sort as I search. Just looking at the clutter makes me so depressed I can’t really tackle it, so seeing someone else tackle it successfully really helps.

  • Patty

    Thanks for the comments on depression & clutter.My boyfriend of about 10 years broke up with me last May.We have had contact since then but now, not since Christmas.I’ve got a terrible clutter in my basement & also in every room & my garage.I have started & stopped several times to clean out the clutter.I have a huge collection of books,magazines etc…I am still believing for a miracle in our relationship it makes me get up and try again.I have been feeling more suicidal’s good to know why I feel that way.I’m dealing with it.I feel that once my home is in order he will be back.We all are believing for something so I choose to stay positive & to believe for our relationship to rekindle into a permanent burning fire.Thanks for the video it’s inspired me to stop crying & to get started again.I have magazines in every room in my house.LOL…Thank you

  • Annie

    Yeah u never know how relived and fresh u feel once u clear the clutter in ur house. I think we need to do housekeeping even in our minds too throwing all the negative thoughts bringing in new hope and enthusiasm towards future.

  • Jill

    Awesome job Therese!
    I have all my books piled up on the pool table in the basement of my fiance’s brother’s house. Since we are still living with his family I have no bookshelves or anything.
    But omg you should have seen when I was a kid! I was a huge bookworm! I had a huge 4 shelf bookshelf filled with books!
    I think that I am an information hoarder too, but instead
    of having papers, books, etc around I instead have a folder in Firefox named “Miscellaneous Books” which is all books I find interesting and that I want to preview with their “Search Inside” feature. I also have a folder of “Miscellaneous Links” which are articles from websites and stuff I get in my email.
    A tad obsessive no? :)

  • oem hanger

    nice post,I like the post thank you

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Razz2

    Ok… I’m being techno challenged. I’ve tried a number of things but I can’t seem to find where I “click” to see this video…. or any of the other ones for that matter. What am I missing?

    Thanks in advance – Razz2

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Franz

    I couldn’t find a clickable video link either. Turns out that the video is on YouTube —

    FWIW, no video link for me with either Google Chromium 12.0.742.100 (0) or Mozilla Firefox 4.0.1 running on Linux OS, with FlashBlock, AdBlock and other plugins disabled. Looks like a job for the Webmaster!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Joyce

    Loved the video…once I found it. Franz, thanks so much for finding it and posting the link to YouTube. I was getting really angry and frustrated, couldn’t find it anywhere!

  • Get Organized Already

    Don’t forget the emotional cleaners: a bout of PMS can mean every scrap of paper gets shredded and all of hubby’s clutter gets donated!
    Gotta love hormones.
    Everyone organizes differently, which makes stories like this fascinating to me.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rebe

    How do I view the video? There seems to be no link to the actual video.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rebecca

    I’d really like to be able to see this video–about clearing desk clutter–but I can’t get anything to play. Have you removed the video link?

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