10 September 2014

Action on shameful clutter continues

Last week I bit off more than I seem to be able to chew. It started with the work surface in the studio - an impulse to brighten, lighten it up with a coat of paint - and a week later, three coats of paint and much sorting later, the chaos continues.

There was a moment when a glorious expanse of white stretched unblemished and unadorned - to recap, this was that moment -
After smiling every time I looked at it, I started work on the shelves - mission: they should hold tools in constant use, and projects in current development. 

Here, 9 of the 12 shelves have been emptied, ready for repopulation - 
Some items have been put in new homes, including those sorted into lovely new plastic boxes (paints, marker pens, inks, linen threads, etc). There is a (transitional, cardboard) box for "things that need thinking about", another for "things that need to be matched up", and probably several others along those lines - I really should label them...

What you don't see is the state of the floor - covered with heaps! - and the accumulation on the table under the window. Feeling very overwhelmed, I gave myself a talking to and started making lists, not just of what needs doing in the studio but in All Of Life. (This is a remarkably soothing displacement activity, don't you find?) These lists are helping me decide what constitutes a Current Project ... and where to put those that don't fit on the narrow shelves. 

But what was really needed was a strategy for clearing table and floor. The workspace was getting more and more crowded, too. It didn't help to have this spanner thrown into the works, a bit of reciprocity with my son doing some small tasks -
... one of the dreaded Brown Drawers, which contain my pre-digital collections of magazine cuttings, dating back to 1992 and perhaps earlier ... things I liked the look of then and still find interesting. Pieces of paper are very flat and you can fit hundreds if not thousands into a stack of repurposed kitchen drawers. They need to go, and I've made a small start. But the drawer is back in place ... in a place that's needed for something else. (One day soon it will be done...)

So I resolved to start at the left of the table and work around the room. A simple strategy. A little at a time. Set the timer for 15 minutes ... you can do anything for 15 minutes. 

This morning the table under the window was completely clear, and received a good sanding, ready for a lick of paint. I also took the opportunity to clean the window, a job previously impossible because of the many spools of thread and other tiny items arranged in front of it -
Then came another spanner in the works, a domestic problem requiring a search through my pads and sheets and shelves of paper for some Japanese mending tissue (found it!) -
...leaving the papers in a sorry state. Much sorting is needed. Drawing paper is "too good to throw away" if the other side can still be used (but will I use it??) - it can be returned to the shelves, which are wide and deep. To store the pads, it would make sense to clear a space in one of the overhead cupboards ... which means something else will need either a new home or a Decision To Discard.

So much muddle!

One step at a time...

Thanks for the comments on my previous post. Encouragement is a good motivator! Something that's been triggered is whether this is happening because I'm between projects ... or have nothing to go on to; is it displacement activity, something to fill a void?  Also it may be that this is just the first round of elimination: knowing what you have no further use for is a very grey area! True, there are some projects you never go back to - "one door closes so another can open". Carpet tiles are a great idea, once the floor is visible again. I'm sure it will all be worth it, and all that's needed is a bit of ruthlessness and a lot of resolve. 


Jane Stevens said...

Margaret, you inspire me. I am in the midst of a "clear out this house and sell it" undertaking. I'm trying to be ruthless but it's an uphill battle. thank you for your example. thelma

Stitchinscience said...

Very inspiring, please keep posting about this as it is making me look at my shared workspace very critically - and, as my elder son goes to university this week, look at his bedroom with my covetous, stitching eyes!