I finally get it. It took me a while, but now I am ready to take out the trash! I should explain. It all began with a frigid blast of winter that kept me in the house for three days. I decided to do something productive – clean out and declutter my file drawers.
No, that doesn’t sound fun and to be honest, it wasn’t, but it was something I had been avoiding for a long time. It needed to be done. Being trapped inside when it was a -35 degree chill factor outside was the perfect time, so I jumped into the mountain of files.
Attacking the first drawer, I put all the files on my dining room table. This drawer contained house information, warranties on appliances, receipts, and information about house maintenance, etc. I decided to get fancy and color code each drawer. If it hadn’t been so cold I would have gone to the office store to buy the prettiest new colors, but I decided that using all the green hanging folders I had in the first drawer would be fine. The files I put inside would be a variety of colors- just to make it pretty.
Two hours into this project I had divided all the paperwork into mini mountains. I decided that I needed a few more categories to organize than what I had. I needed one to put in all the decorating ideas that I had clipped from magazines and one for the paint color chips I had saved. Soon I felt like I had more files and papers to put back into the drawer than what I started with.
That is when it hit me. I wasn’t decluttering at all. I was just organizing the chaos of papers and files to look good. The revelation that there is a big difference between organizing and decluttering hit me on many levels. Suddenly I thought of all the times I went shopping for new bins, baskets, hangers, and holders just to clean and color coordinate drawers, closets, and my life - under the pretense of decluttering. All I was doing was organizing the chaos.
Oh, I have been successful at times. A few months ago, I did declutter my clothes closet, which, by the way, remains clutter-free and is one of my proud accomplishments. But habits are hard to break and what I was doing with the file drawers was slipping back into my old pattern.
Luckily, I caught myself. I didn’t want to just organize all the stuff so it looked good. I wanted to clean out and declutter – which meant it was time to take out the trash! I began ruthlessly throwing papers into two new mountains – recycle and shred.
I didn’t need receipts from the upgrades that we made on the last house we owned. I didn’t need to save paint samples when I had no plans to paint. And I certainly didn’t need 5 years of receipts of veterinary visits for my dogs.
As I write this, I am taking a break from drawer number 3. The end is in sight. My files look amazing, and yes, they are color-coded and a visual work of art. My bag of shredding is overflowing. And my recycle bin will be proudly rolled to the curb to be picked up with tomorrow’s trash.
I feel cleansed in a way, and ready to move on to the next decluttering project. As I look around my home, I am critiquing how many of my closets and corners that I have beautifully organized the chaos but what I need to do is declutter. I wonder…how many areas of my life have I done the same. I might just need to take out more trash.
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Pennie’s Life Lesson:
In your life don’t just organize the chaos -
it might be time to take out the trash!
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