Before and After: a Study in Clutter


I am not proud of this picture. I share it to show you how badly out-of-hand the clutter had become in my home office before I was compelled to deal with it. This is from early November, 2012.


Art supplies, books, hoops, yarn and other knitting things, CDs, random  boxes, etc etc etc. The thought of clearing it out was unbearable – I have never been able to just go in and tidy something up, at least not once it got to this point. But I couldn’t stand it any more.


A number of the teachers I have come across on the Internet tell us that we are most effective when we work WITH our natural patterns and inclinations instead of against them. One I have particularly resonated with is Jen Hofmann, Inspired Home Office . With that in mind, I realized that in the past when I have moved, what I do is pack EVERYTHING and then sort through when I am unpacking. Yes, this flies in the face of how you are “supposed” to do it, but it’s the only way I can stand it. So if I apply that here, it means that everything must go – to another room, so I could sort through things as I put them back IN the office. Crucial fact: my husband cannot abide clutter. Poor man, I put him through too much already, so there’s no way I could subject him to THIS. So. Here’s where luck came in: he decided to go visit his family in California for 10 days last November. Aha: a window of opportunity. I did not tell him what I was planning. Just that I was working on a surprise.


He left on Thursday, and that night I started hauling stuff out into the living room. And I have to tell you, by Friday night I was feeling pretty daunted by the size of what I had set myself to do. But by then there was no turning back. That was actually another key feature of my plan. The only way out was through. Here’s what it looked like when the room was emptied.


Then item by item, things went into the Goodwill pile, the trash, or back into the room. It was absolutely critical to the process that I had a hard end date: I had to be done before he got home. At the very least, everything HAD to be back in that room, even if I wasn’t quite done organizing it. You know what? I made it. And since then, I’ve finished most of the organizing.


Here’s what it looks like now:


I still have some work to do, especially around organizing my desk (which you can’t see in this picture). But I can BREATHE in there now, I enjoy being in there. And I am committed to keeping it this way.

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