TannieSpace

geekery, drawing and then some

Posts about decluttering

Admitting defeat

It became clear to me over the past few days I’ll never get my flat cleaned up the way I want before the windowreplacement. With the amount of anxiety I had about it (and let’s face it, about anything) I have thought up a Plan B (and possibly C and D). Today or tomorrow I will take my little bike, cycle to GAMMA (a DIY-store nearby) and get myself a bunch of moving boxes, small size. After that, I have about two weeks to get my affairs in order and that gets easier when I can simple toss ‘everything’ in boxes and stack those.

I prefered not to do it that way and then stuff happend that got in the way. I don’t feel defeated. In fact, I feel pretty pleased about having thought this through beforehand which leads me to Plan B without stress and still confident I can do this. For me, this makes a huge difference with how I did things before. Instead of ‘fighting’ against my nature and trying ‘not to worry so much’ I took a few minutes to write down my plan and my backup-plan. This action alone gave me enough calmness to not have to spend much time thinking about it. Normally I’d keep it all active in my head, and this eats up a lot of backgroundprocess-energy.

I’ll still need some help with clearing the balcony, and even that doesn’t look as daunting as it did before.


Just a few more weeks

As mentioned before I have a few weeks before the windows get replaced. I have done my best to stick to my plan of 1 day off, 3 days off cleanup, and have at least managed some cleanup-days. Not as many as I’d like though. I had another project that ate up a lot off energy and had an annoying headache that lasted a week.

I spent some time away from home to avoid having to spend a few days in non-stop drilling into my walls on the outside and the following insertion of isolationspray (some foamy material). After returning I discovered that they had shifted the schedule and found myself spending a few annoying days in nearly non-stop drilling anyway. The earplugs helped with the sound, and not with the vibrations.

On one of these days they sprayed the foamy into the wall from the roof. I live on the top floor of my building and thus instany discovered the gaps between my windows and the outside wall in that area. The tiny black sticky foamy balls sprayed out of the gaps onto the balcony, like black snow. It stuck to the windows and the plants. I had not cleaned up the balcony yet and the mess became a mess.

I did my best to remove some of the sticky black foam-balls, getting them to unstick. At some point I moved my curtain. Big surprise there, sticky black foam-balls had found a hole towards the inside and stuck tothe curtain.

yuck

At least I managed to mostly clean that up myself. The isolation-guys came by to clean up the balcony and though they didn’t get all, they got a lot.

I keep telling myself, just a few more weeks… 1


  1. Although, right now, I think the drama will never end, because I also need to do something about the broken tiles in the bathroomfloor and the radiators need replacing too. The joys of homeownership. 


The clean-up plan

zones By the end of November, all my windows and their frames will go into a huge recycling bin and I’ll get new (better) windows.

For this process I need to clean-up. All the stuff near the windows has to move somewhere else. And I have stuff at ‘somewhere else’. 1 Seems like a good time to do a massive decluttering, but with my limited energy supply it seemed a bit daunting.

I decided to make a plan! I started by calculating the number of days left until the Big Day (50) and looked at how I could best divide them into smaller chunks. I ended up with 12 times 4 days (and then two days left).

I then divided the Offending Areas into 10 zones, roughly, with equal amounts of junk. lastly, I entered repeating events in my calendar, repeating every 4 days.

Day 1-3

declutter, clean, do whatever needs to get done in any one zone. no switching zones during those days. Sliding into neighbouring zone won’t hurt the plan as long as the focus remains at or near one area. Knowing me I’ll bounce around, flying from one side to another, if I don’t set this rule.

Day 4

obligated rest and fun, damnit! because it works so well to force myself to do something fun. Actually it does, and again, knowing me, I won’t stop until I drop otherwise (if someone could send me a moderation dial/button, I’d feel forever grateful)

10 zones means I have 40 days planned, which leaves a handful of days unallocated. Completely intentional, I have some things planned and will use those extra days as a buffer.

The past few days I cleared a small area and actually ditched about one garbage bag already. I admit I mostly got rid of old chewed up dog toys. Still, anything that goes means less stuff in my flat.

Tomorrow (Friday) I’ll have my first obligated funrest day. I think I’ll clean out some pens…


  1. If all else fails I guess I can always rent storage space and become an actual storage hoarder. 


To wishlist or not to wishlist.

Recently I started keeping a wishlist of things I wanted to buy, however, not just now. It also helps with having a ‘cooling down’ period after I decide I want-want-want something, as advised by many personal finance blogs out there (in one form or the other). At first I thought it was silly, I’d remember the things, but after using it for a while I found it actually really helps. Not only does this immediately stop me from impulse buying, it also helps me (eventually) buy more focussed. When I put an item on the list, I also put the price I found it for next to it, and where I saw it. Usually, I’ll also add a photo to it. (I use Shopper on my iPhone, which I also use for my normal groceries). By adding the price, I can keep my eye open for a special offer for the same product, or, when I decide I really want to buy it, I can do focussed research to find the product at the best price.

I did do research before, especially for needed items, but my wants sort of slipped past that research stage more quickly. By keeping this list I force myself to not only wait, I also make sure I do plenty of research (and then in the process drop the product all together).

I’ve also noticed it becomes easier to throw things of the list after a while, and this in turn leads to it getting easier to not want to put something on there to begin with. Don’t want to waste my time with things I won’t buy anyway :) By seeing the silly stuff on my list, I feel less tempted by more silly stuff. And seeing the total amount doesn’t hurt either!

I currently have 5 items on my list (I dropped some earlier): 1. Griffin Clarifi iPhone case 2. Neocube magnets 3. Sigg Thermo Mug 4. Portable foldable water-drinking reservoir for the dog 5. A 5x5x5 Rubik’s Cube

All wants, I don’t need any of them really. They’re just so much fun! ;)


What not to spend money on…

I’m a bit of a compulsive spender. There, I said it.

Unlike others, I don’t buy shoes or clothes. I buy boxes. And organising stuff. Sites like The daily planner and The container store make my heart beat faster. And Thinkgeek.

Oh, and pens.

And I buy a lot of food.

Only on occasion do I not use the things I purchase, this happens maybe a couple of times per year. I don’t buy 50 pairs of shoes, new skirts because they’re on sale etc.

But I am a compulsive spender and this has to stop. I have more pens than I could possible ever get empty (granted, drawing just goes a lot better with the right pen, but I have multiple so that shouldn’t become a problem any time soon). I have a gazillion (lovely) boxes. No more buying food when I have plenty in my pantry. Make shopping lists and stick to them. Time to grow up ;)


Reducing clutter.

Lately I have spent a lot of time de-cluttering (not done yet, it takes a long time to get rid of years worth of junk). It feel very liberating to throw out old stuff, stuff I don’t even like or just keep out of guilt. It not only clears space, but also my head. It makes me very happy.

To help me and keep me motivated, I’ve started reading blogs about getting rid of clutter basically. I found a good list of tips over at ‘Simple. Organized. Life.’ As a recovering pack-rat I found the first two most helpful.

  • Have a place for everything - this means your keys, your wallet, your office supplies, etc.

and

  • When you bring one thing home, try to send at least one thing out the door.

Having a place for everything (well, not yet, but getting there) helps me not having to search for an item. Tossing out something when I bring in something new helps me to not cling onto older items just for the sake of clinging on.

I’ve started feeling much calmer with less clutter around me. A lot less stress.


Making space.

before&afterI have this habit of stuffing things in my cabinets and forget about them. Hidden behind the doors I don’t see it, so I don’t think about it, or so I hope. But it never works like that. So, today I took an hour or so to declutter my two cabinets in the livingroom. I still have one left (my ‘computercentre’ basically), and feel very good about the progress I made today. The photo shows the before on top and the after at the bottom. I made a few paperwork-stacks that need to migrate to my file-cabinet, a task to big for this evening. I’ll take another hour (or two or three) or so later this week to do it.

I put some drawingsupplies in the cabinet on the left (top-right), and consider putting my yarn and crochet things there too. I crochet in the livingroom, not in my hobby/bedroom (aka ‘the funroom’ ;) )

I tossed out one full garbagebag.


Under the kitchen sink…

Well, I guess I feel brave enough to post before and after pics.

[Under the kitchen sink, before

I love those boxes on the left. I put rarely used things in that big box and sorted my rags into smaller ones. Normally I prefer boxes over baskets but with the cleaning supplies I made an exception because I may want to carry them to a different spot (although that won’t happen very often, the basket seemed more practical)

Coat and bagAnd as a bonus, I got a new coathanger. My very own Ikea-hack as I used a Ikea Grundtal rail meant for the kitchen.


Cleaning out my closet.

On friday I purchased some rollerboxes for under my bed, but they wouldn’t fit so I had to return them. I then found out my favourite storing boxes will be on sale (and actually purchasable) in a discount supermarket nearby on Monday and though I won’t get out my sleepingbag and sleep in front of the store to get them, I will make sure to go there on Monday. As an extra I found out that a discount store for home-stuff sells them as well, and currently don’t have any in stock because they were on sale there last week.

Yes, I have an obsession with plastic boxes and yes, I have a very specific obsession. When find ones I like I want to have just those for certain purposes. For food-storage I use Ikea’s Pruta because they’re small containers hold exactly the right amount of food for me.

I also label my boxes, so I know what I can find in there without having to turn them upside down. Even with the transparent boxes this helps a lot to quickly find what I need.

Now, on to declutter the cabinet under the sink. If I feel brave I’ll post before and after photos later on.


A few TODO-list pointers.

Today I read this article over at the Neat & Simple blog about ToDo-lists. Ariane explains we’re all different people and we all have different ways to have a ToDo list work for us. We also all have different reasons why some things just don’t work for us. She gives some great tips to create the list that works for you and find the right tools to do it.

I wanted to add my own experiences and tricks to it so I whipped up this post.

I’ve recently bought myself an iPhone (you may sigh/scream if you desire). My old phone started to fail and so did my palm. Combine this with my arthritis and enter iPhone. The touchscreen helps a lot with the arthritis. I started using OmniFocus as a trusted system months for my todos before that, and happily got the iPhone app when it became available.

What to use.

Now, it doesn’t really matter if you use pen and paper or a computerprogram to make your lists, you should pick whatever works for you. For me, a computerprogram works best:

  • I change my mind a lot, pen and paper gets very very messy
  • A computerprogram lets me hide unimportant tasks with a few clicks / shortcutkeys
  • I can’t write that much due to arthritis, typing goes a lot better
  • I can fit more info on my screen than on a reasonable piece of pape
  • I can use my phone to take notes and then sync up with my computer

If everything fails, power goes down and my phone drops dead, then yes, I’ll use pen and paper. However, if that all happens at the same time I think I have bigger problems ;-)

My current setup.

So, I have a pretty simple setup:

  • OmniFocus on Mac laptop
  • OmniFocus on iPhone which alows me to note down tasks at any time.

How I write down tasks.

When I want to write down a task I take a few extra seconds to follow my ‘pattern’:

  • I always start with a verb, to put me in an actionable mood. The item is something I need to do, which requires a verb, so I put it in there straight away.
  • if it’s a call, I use something like call John about project x and I’ll look up the number straight away and copy-paste it into the item (as a note)
  • if for some reason I cannot look up the number straight away, I will always make an item before the original one stating where to find the number look up John's number in his letter Usually I know where to find it, so I’ll make an extra note saying something like ‘letter in archive’ or ‘letter on kitchen table’. I will link these items together. call John will become a subtask of look up John's number

By using a default ‘template’ for my actions it makes it easier for me to act on it. I know it will always say what to do (verb) with what / who (subject) about/for/because of what. If I feel like using a somewhat vague verb like ‘think about’ I’ll take an extra minute to break it down a little into something I can actively do, and not passively. ‘Thinking about’ usually involves brainstorming (noting down any idea I have on the subject) and something like a pro/con list.

Beware of micro-tasking.

It takes some more time in the beginning to do this, but once you get used to it (and it fits your thinking) it’ll help to clarify tasks and help you just do the task instead of having to look up that number, so you postpone it again. A successful todo-list will not make it hard on you to follow through, it will make it easy for you to do the task straight away. If you have to do things before you can actually start your task, then you should look into that, and perhaps make a task about it. Don’t fall victim to micro-tasking though, you’ll spend more time writing things down than actually doing it. Only you can decide where to draw the line in that. If you find you write down too little, try to do it a teensy bit more to see if you like it. And don’t listen to those people who say that ‘look up John’s number’ is a stupid task to write down, because of course you know you have to look it up. If you need to have it written down to keep going, by all means write it down. It sure saves me a lot of time and frustration and takes away the temptation of procrastination.