Friday, February 5, 2016

Tackling Clutter with the Timer Game

Chuck and I are three days into our 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge. Yes, I'm starting a little before Lent this year because I will be in Utah with the kids for some of the days, so I will take advantage of starting early and doubling up on some days. 

If you are unfamiliar with the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge, you can get more info by clicking on the link above. For us, we know that we will eventually be retiring to our little house in Utah, and we need to pare down our possessions to a manageable amount. We have our work cut out for us because our house in Illinois has three bedrooms, an office, a basement, and a garage. The house in Utah has two bedrooms. Two tiny closets. One tiny bathroom. A sad little shed in the backyard. No garage. No basement. (Unless you count the itsy-bitsy cellar which houses the water heater and a few cobwebs.) There's just not a lot of extra room in the little cottage. You get the picture.

Chuck did a great job of getting rid of a lot of stuff before I moved in a year ago, and even hired a company to haul off all of the things that he no longer needed. Now we're fine-tuning our belongings so that we are only keeping things that are useful to us, necessary to us, or loved by us. We're just trying to keep it simple here.

I've done this once before, when I was consolidating everything I owned from two spacious homes into THE COZY, BUT TINY, COTTAGE. I actually become energized by eliminating surplus stuff from my house. It is liberating to know I am in control of what occupies space in our home, which is not to say Chuck doesn't have a say. That goes without saying!

Every once in awhile I will update you on our progress, and share any tips I have. I am so grateful to Ann Marie over at the blog, WHITE HOUSE, BLACK SHUTTERS, who started the challenge a few years ago. I have been the beneficiary of a comfortable, organized home by using her suggestions. I've done it before, and I'm doing it again. A house that is organized and tidy is also cozy and inviting. 

40 Bags in 40 Days 2016

Day 1: First of all, I took a legal pad through the house and jotted down every area that needed to be purged, cleaned, and organized. There are easily forty bags/projects for me to complete. 

Then I started by emptying our exercise room/storage room of the surplus electronics. We had a growing collection that included three VHS players, a CD stereo system, and a portable CD player. 

I sent Chuck a snapshot of a stack of videos, asking if there were any keepers. He agreed that since we were getting rid of the VCRs, the videos were not worth saving. Whew. I'm glad we agreed on that one. There were remotes galore. The cheerful lady who helped me unload my car at Goodwill was happy I knew they didn't take TVs. 

Yeah, we have THREE of those great, big boxy-styled ones I need to haul off to the electronic recycling center here before it closes its doors. Yikes. Rumor has it the center will close soon, so I really need to get on that right away!

After I returned from Goodwill, I changed the bed, and baked some cookies for Chuck. While the cookies were in the oven, I took a fifteen minute break sipping tea, and perusing Facebook. Sometimes I set the timer for breaks; sometimes I set it for work sessions. I find if I schedule little breaks throughout the day, I feel rewarded for my efforts.

Day 2: 
Each day the goal is to get rid of a bag of stuff; any size bag. It can be a lawn and leaf bag, a grocery sack, or a small baggy. Some days I might count some job that needs to be done as a bag, especially if it means getting rid of some paperwork that has been lying around on horizontal surfaces of our kitchen or office. 

The task yesterday was to file papers with our insurance company so we could be reimbursed for our expenses. Knowing money would be coming our way was very motivational. Once I got that done, I enjoyed a walk in the brisk air outside. The sun was shining in Chicagoland for a change, and I wanted to take advantage of that. See? I try to balance out a little work with a little fun.

Last night, Chuck asked if I would like his help with some of his things in the closets. What wife would turn that down? 

We started with his sweaters. Now, we have been married for just over a year, and I have never seen Chuck in a sweater. Ever. So when we had all six of them spread out on the bed, I wondered if he would get rid of them all, or keep one. We had discussed his sweaters earlier that day. He told me sometimes he puts a sweater on in the dark. When I'm asleep. I said, to my knowledge, he doesn't wear them. So guess how many sweaters he kept? Three. So be it. I'm not here to judge. We cut the sweater population in half, so I am not complaining.

Chuck's closet contained a lot of clothes that no longer fit him. When he was diagnosed with diabetes a couple of years before we met, he lost a lot of weight. Last night, he happily discarded his too-big polo shirts, flannel shirts, and dress shirts. Anything he couldn't see himself wearing again got tossed, too. There was a heaping laundry basket full of clothes by the time we were done. Oh, and we got rid of a couple dozen ties, keeping one favorite for each of his suits. I think he did an amazing job of paring things down.

Day 3: The junk drawer has been our nemesis for far too long. Today I conquered it. I hate dumping out such a big mess, but love restoring order, so today, I played the TIMER GAME.

It's so simple, and works for me like a charm. I can stand to do anything for fifteen minutes, even something tedious like sorting out a junk-filled kitchen drawer. I set the timer for 15 minutes, and by the time my little piggy dinged, I had nearly restored order to the drawer, and just needed to get rid of the surplus. I was pretty motivated to finish the job. I had spread everything out on a towel on my living room floor, where the light was better. Ha ha ha.

That task is done. The next time you want to challenge your kids to finish up a quick task, or even yourself, you might want to try setting the timer. It works every time! And it never hurts to dangle a carrot in front of our noses...for me, it's relaxing with a cup of tea, walking outdoors, or spending time on my MacBook. 

What gets you going? Please, if you have any other little tips to share on finishing unpleasant tasks, do tell! I'm always looking for little ways to motivate myself. 

Beat the clock! Make de-cluttering fun!

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