Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Reclaiming Your Mind One Mess at a Time - Day 2

Do you often have a hard time finding anything? Even your youthful optimism? I may not be able to help you with that, but I can point out a few ways to organize the trash heaps in your life. I'm an expert at it because I'm surrounded by them. :(

(cc) Douglas CooteyI used to visit a home in Sugarhouse, Utah that was immaculate, orderly, and stylish. I was so jealous of their home because I wanted the same thing for my self. Of course, they didn't live in a small apartment with three kids (now four). I probably would have been jealous of their dog house if they had one. In fact, they may have had a dog house and I mistook it for an addition to their home. At any rate, I discovered three things that helped me feel less threatened by their beautiful home. First, their kitchen wasn't nearly as immaculate as their living room - making it just like mine. Second, I once got a peek into their bedroom and it was as far from immaculate as I am from the moon. There were piles of paper and laundry covering every surface. "Aha!" I thought. "They are human after all." The third thing was that they had a hired maid. At the time I was out of luck on that front, but I've been raising four maids and things are steadily improving.

Al Gore - An Inconvenient MessWhat that experience taught me was that everybody has working piles and messes. Have you seen Al Gore's study? Even the financially, environmentally, and politically successful cannot escape the chaos of entropy.

This brings me to today's project. We have this closet in our home that is the general, vague resting place of anything photographic. Over time, things began to pile on top of our neat boxes making it difficult to pull the boxes down. More things were piled upon the other things that were piled upon our memories. Eventually, the things became crammed, shoved, tossed, and pitched into the pile. I call them things because if they were cherished memories you would think we would have treated them better.

Just thinking of tackling that mess makes me want to go watch a documentary on the History Channel instead - something long and dull like the history of how the bullet came to be pointy shaped. Anything but dealing with that mess. This is why I decided to start small by tackling only one of the boxes: the camera box. It sounded so simple I even wrote about it yesterday, thus committing myself. Then I actually tried to take the box down.

Great Scott!There was no way to remove the box without either dealing with the pile on top of the box or risk getting a skull fracture when the pile fell on top of me.

Instead of getting discouraged and abandoning the project, or worse picking a new one ("Hey! I'll clean the car mess again. That'll be easy. I already did it yesterday!"), I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

Not that you want to read a blow by blow of me cleaning my house, like Twitter gone horribly wrong, but some people, like my wife, can't break messes down into smaller components. My wife looks at what I do as if it is some form of magic, but it really isn't very complicated. I use a sorting system based on atomic weights, calendar dates, and random colors, but I'll discuss that another time. Let's just look at the pictures.

I cleaned out my Camera Box AND more.The trick is to break big messes into smaller messes and deal with the smaller messes one at a time. First, I sorted through the camera mess and made it into two smaller piles. One I kept; one I tossed. This left me with a big empty box. Then I quickly sorted through the paper piles, taking out the precious empty envelopes, the cherished scraps of paper with cryptic notes, and the junk mail heirlooms. This left me with many picture frames, photo albums, and bags of random photos that I tidily tucked into the box for another day. That took will power, surprisingly, but I was determined to stick to my goal of just the camera box. I then threw out and recycled the junk, put the camera keepers into a newly purchased storage bin (clear and small so I can see what's inside and so it doesn't take up a lot of room), then put it all back. You can see from the photos that there is more to tackle tomorrow.

The ultimate goal is to clear our minds by clearing our clutter. Don't be overwhelmed. Take control of your life. Just remember: One mess at a time. One mess per day.

Join me each day and comment here when you finish. Spread the word. Let's get a whole bunch of us filling up landfills across the world*. The trick is to pick a small pile that can be polished off in one quick session. Most of my readers are dealing with Depression, AD/HD, or both so beginning yet another unfinished project brings a lot of emotional baggage. Start small and congratulate yourself on success. Know your limits, but push to expand them, and always remember "When in doubt, throw it out."

Day One (Corner of Car Junk)
Day Two (Camera Box)
Day Three (Photo Box from Hell)
Day Four (The Easy Peasy Refrigerator Top)
Day Five (Kitchen Storage Shelves)
Day Six (Studio)
Day Seven (PC Junk Box)

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