November 27, 2006 12:20 pm

Cleaning Up

:note: Otyg – “Trollslottet”

I’ve been reading a lot lately on organization, clutter, and hoarding. I stumbled across a site called Squalor Survivors a while ago, and while my problem is not nearly as bad as some, I realized I have tremendous difficulty throwing certain things away. The difficulty usually involves some emotional attachment to an item, more than it deserves, and I feel bad about getting rid of it. Either that, or I overestimate its future use and keep it around “just in case” I may ever need it.

My problem stems from worry: I have difficulty getting rid of something I feel I may need in the future, or something I feel holds sentimental value. Case in point: a few days ago, after reading bits of the Squalor Survivors site, I decided to go through a cardboard box that had been sitting in our bookcase since we moved in over a year ago. In it I discovered things like:

  • A cardboard box from a Slinky I once bought
  • Two AA batteries
  • An empty film canister
  • An old toothbrush

What you should also know about those things is that I know they came from the time I lived with Callie in 2003/04. Three year old batteries. For what purpose? Furthermore, the old toothbrush? Was once used to scrub dog poop off of a pair of shoes. AND I KEPT IT. I kept it thinking “Man, if I ever have to do this again, I should use this same toothbrush so I don’t mess up another one” and I packed it up in a box and moved it into not one, but TWO new apartments. Of course, now I can recognize that as totally bizarre behavior, but before, I apparently thought that was perfectly reasonable. Moving a dog shit toothbrush to two new apartments under the guise that “I may need it someday.” How screwed up is that? I threw it away.

I got so motivated that I grabbed another box off another shelf. In that I found some things that I did want to keep, but one item was an empty, plastic water bottle. It was the bottle that the singer of Moonspell drank out of and then threw into the crowd one of the times I saw them. Cool, right? A rock star’s water bottle? I thought so. Except, do I really need it? I remember it happening – I wrote about it on my website once (can’t find the post, may have been before I installed WordPress and did it manually), Daniel remembers it, I’m writing about it here… So I decided to throw it away. Yeah, it was awesome, but I don’t need to keep a mangy old water bottle around for 40 years just because it was awesome. I’ll remember it.

I also decided to go through a giant box of school papers and organize them into plastic folders for the stuff I actually want to keep. I’m going to recycle the rest. I don’t need to keep the half-inch by 4 inch scrap of paper that an instructor wrote a grade on, especially since I have no idea who the instructor was, what the class was, or what the project was. Recycled. I don’t need to keep every quiz I’ve ever taken. Papers, maybe. Sketches, yes.

My next project is going to be getting a filing cabinet and organizing my important financial and school-related papers. I have a small-ish plastic filing box, but I feel like it’s not big enough to do a decent job, plus Daniel has a bunch of stuff he could file and my little file box can’t handle it. I found a decent filing cabinet at Target for $40, so I’m sort of looking into that – I just have to make it to Target somehow. :| The section on the website about Paper and Bill-Paying was especially helpful to me and gave me lots of good ideas on how to get a handle on all my papers and documents.

I know that most people are generally pretty good about getting a handle on their messes and throwing obvious trash away, but I thought I’d post about it in case any of these things ring true for you. Take things slow – maybe just go through one box. You don’t have to do everything all at once; that’s a surefire way to get nothing done since you’ll be so overwhelmed. I’m actually making pretty good headway on the piles of papers surrounding my computer. Yes, there are a few piles that need to be taken care of, and a plastic bin that needs to be dug through, but I’m making progress.

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