Tackling Clutter Problem Areas: Our Whimsical Message Center

Tackling Clutter Problem Areas Graphic

We all have at least one area in our home that is an ongoing problem area. Some parts of our homes, once organized, require only minimal and routine maintenance. But others seem to grow clutter like kudzu. For my husband and me, that area is our mail, receipts, and action items. “Action items” are any papers that require an action to be taken—a doctor’s bill, for example, or a form to be filled out.

The problem grew worse, however, once we moved to the townhouse. I don’t really know why, but suddenly receipts were popping up like weeds in our living room, mail was scattered all over the entertainment center, and one of the pair of storage ottomans in our living room had gone from a place to rest your feet to a pile of “to-do’s.”

A living room is meant to be a room for relaxation. It’s the place where hubby and I sit and chat over coffee or tea, where we lounge and watch our favorite TV shows, where I curl up with a cup of tea and a good book, where I frequently have writing sessions.

In terms of feng shui, our living room encompasses our helpful people/travel area and our creativity area. For me, clutter is like a bucket of cold water dumped on the fire of creativity—and that is not the kind of energy I want in a space.

The most obvious solution was to create an organizational system in our home office, but it’s upstairs on the far end of the house—admittedly, it’s not a large house, but if you’re carrying in mail at the same time as groceries and dog food at the end of the work day, you don’t necessarily take the time to carry receipts and mail upstairs.

Enter our messaging center. It was a simple fix, really. A cheapo, wall-mounted file organizer from Target combined with some fun art—a Harry Potter themed “No post on Sundays” image that I made in Word and printed on some cardstock, and a little bit of magical flair add some visual interest to the space. Envelopes sort receipts into “shred,” “keep for 30 days,” and “file” categories (file would be for large items with warranties—a TV, for example). There’s also an envelope for coupons, and two sections, one for action items, another for incoming mail.

It doesn’t eliminate the need for maintenance, but it does eliminate the stress seeing mail, papers, and receipts strewn about the living room caused me. And really, such items didn’t belong in the living room anyway. Now I can sort through items once a week, and they’re all there waiting for me in one place.

I challenge you to find such an area in your home and brainstorm ways to corral the clutter. Of course, you will need a maintenance routine to keep things from piling up, but understanding which areas are problematic for you can go a long way to helping keep those areas manageable. Papers always have been a problem area for my husband and me, but some hard work at clearing paper clutter, followed by carefully designed storage is helping keep those areas much more manageable.

As for the creative aspect of my life, it seems to be thriving these days. I’m about 15K into the first draft of my novel Wild Tarot, the first in the Wild Fae Trilogy. I’ve been reading up a storm as well, including books on fairy witchcraft, deep point of view, and some lovely magical fiction reads, including Ellen Dugan’s Gypsy Chronicles and Kiss of the Silver Wolf by Sharon Buchbinder.

We’ve been tending hearth and home as well. I did a massive space clearing with some sage and rose incense on last week, after we thoroughly cleaned the house, and I ordered some sweetgrass so we can invite some good, magical spirits and energies into the house. We’re chipping away at clutter and planning out some major home renovation projects as well. The energy in the townhouse feels lovely and peaceful, and settled, which it didn’t for a while. It is becoming the tidy, cozy, whimsical home, a place for creativity and magic and love, that I always knew it could be.

And, of course, stories are unfolding. I hope someday soon to introduce you to Morgana, Rowena, and Sylvie, the three sisters in the Wild Fae trilogy.

Until then, may magic and light be with you!

Please share your comments below! What areas are problematic for you? Have you created a system for addressing these areas?

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How to get—and stay—organized when you don’t have a fairy godmother

how to get and stay organized graphic
Graphic created at Canva.com. Photo from Dreamstime.com | Creative Commons Zero.

Wouldn’t it be nice if, at the end of the day, after all of the messes and chaos, our fairy godmother would show up, wave her magic wand, and, in a sea of sparkles, things would magically put themselves back in place?

Or, if we could but cast a spell, and everything would look nice and tidy like a picture from a magazine or a shining social media post?

Yeah, right. Enter real life.

The average American home doesn’t just house people and pets. It’s also home to more than 300,000 items!

That’s right. That’s 300,000 objects each household has to find a home for.

And we wonder why all of those clever storage solutions aren’t working.

Minimalism is a great alternative, but not all of us are cut out to be minimalists. So, if we’re not willing to live solely with the number of possessions that fit into a backpack, how do we get organized?

I will confess. Sometimes my home is messy. I have problem areas. But I am conquering clutter one area at a time—and here’s a guide to organization for the rest of us. Rather than waiting for our fairy godmother to bippity-boppity-boo away our chaos, let’s tackle it—one area at a time.

First, here are the definite don’ts of organization:

  • Don’t try to do it all at once. Seriously. If you’re average, there are 300,000 objects in your home. At one-minute decision time per item, that’s 5,000 hours—or more than 208 days nonstop! If we attempt to declutter and organize our entire house, we’ll end up overwhelmed and stressed. If you’re fairly far into the decluttering process, you can take it one room at a time. But I highly recommend you break a room into parts and take it one drawer, one closet, one box, etc. at a time. Don’t attempt to declutter and organize the entire living room. Aim for the bookshelf, the coffee table, the kids’ toys, etc. Trust me. This works soooo much better, and you’ll hold on to your sanity.
  • Don’t think of organization as a destination. It’s a process, and it must be maintained. That’s the primary reason storage solutions fail. We buy them, but we fail to maintain the organizational method we implemented. If you’re going to get and stay organized, go slowly and remember that it is an ongoing process. If you see it as a destination, you’ll only quit once clutter again starts accumulating. We’ll take a few big passes in the beginning, and then, as time goes on, it will get easier. It will take less and less effort, but it will still be a process.
  • Don’t buy storage solutions before you sort things out. Too often, we try to “buy” our way out of our mess. I get the inclination, and trust me, I have definitely been there. But you have to organize before you buy that pretty little organizational solution, or it won’t work. Declutter first. Know exactly what you have and how much you’re keeping.
  • Don’t think organization is only for the chosen few. You don’t have to be a minimalist to be organized. This mentality frustrates me—because many people simply don’t want to be minimalists. You can live a clutter-free life without only owning 100 items. Trust me. My mother-in-law owns a lot of stuff, but man, she knows where everything is. “Oh, it’s in the blue bin on the top shelf in the garage, and it’s labeled…” I am generally a fan of owning less, and I think decluttering is the first step, but don’t think you have to own next to nothing in order to be organized.

 

Okay, so we’ve talked about the “don’ts” of getting organized. So, now where do we start?

 

  • Step No. 1: Identify the area you want to organize. Take everything out.

I mean everything. Every single item. See why I suggested starting with one area at a time? It could be a drawer, a shelf, etc., but choose one area. And yes, we have to take everything out. Don’t try to cheat on this one. Everything needs to come out.

  • Step No. 2: Hold each item in your hands, and place it in one of three piles: Donate, Trash, Keep.

And yes, I mean every single item. Take, for example, a kitchen drawer. You might have a drawer of miscellaneous utensils. Hold every item in your hands and ask whether you’re using it. Does it serve a purpose? I, for example, had a melon baller. Do you know how many times I’ve balled melon? Uh, zero. Gone. That one was easy. Some objects will be difficult. That vase given to you by your late grandmother? Do you keep it? Ask yourself whether you like it, whether it serves a purpose. Just because something was a gift doesn’t mean we have to keep it. Items that you’re actively using (note: “might use” doesn’t count in my book), go in the keep pile. Items that are in good condition but you don’t have a use for go in the donate pile. And items in disrepair go in the trash pile.

In this stage, it helps to examine our attachment to objects. Why keep something if we’re not using it, beyond obvious sentimental items such as photographs, old letters, etc.? Sometimes we imbue belongings with power we shouldn’t. They represent our aspirational selves (that’s why I kept my art easel for so long). They represent who we used to be (clothes three sizes too small). They represent times we want to hold onto (uh, yeah, I kept my college books for years after I graduated). But here’s the thing. Objects don’t make us the best version of ourselves—we do that, with our own personal power. And we don’t need to cling to objects to remember our past. Those college creative writing and literature courses? They’re in who I am now. Every word I write, every book I read. They’re a part of my journey. They live on inside of me. And the person I used to be led me to who I am today. I don’t need to keep that skirt, however lovely, that doesn’t fit my new, curvy body. Sometimes, before we let go, we have to examine why we’re holding on. Only you can determine whether the emotional resonance of an object outweighs the mental weight of keeping it, and that’s the balance that determines what’s clutter versus what’s worth keeping.

  • Step No. 3: Carefully examine your keep pile and determine the best way to store it.

And make sure to give yourself room to grow. If we’re talking about books, for example, make sure there’s spare room on your bookcase—because, trust me, you’re going to buy more books. If it’s clothes, do we have room for a few extra articles of clothing? If we’re talking papers, is there room in the file cabinet for future tax returns, etc.? If you’re sure the objects you’re keeping are definitely keepers—and you might need to take a few more passes before you get that step right—then figure out how to store them. I find placing limits on certain categories helps. I have one drawer for office supplies, for example, and another for crafting supplies. If that bin gets full, I’m out of space. That’s it. No more office or crafting supplies until I use up what’s in the bin.

And now is the time when you buy into those storage solutions. I am a big fan of plastic drawers for storage of many items—office supplies, crafting materials, cables/cords/surge protectors, etc. I even have one drawer for my witchy/altar supplies. And a label maker is our friend here. It helps to label a bin or drawer—and nothing that’s not under that category ever goes into that drawer.

  • Step No. 4: Create systems for maintenance.

This might include transitional areas. I have a file organizer that I use for sorting receipts, mail, and action items such as bills to be paid or forms to be filled out. This is not long-term storage but a place for things that are temporary in nature. You might identify a few such trouble spots in your home and create systems for maintaining items that cycle in and out. Limits, again, are helpful here, as are bins for items that are to be donated, so that once we’re through with them we can send them on their merry way. The key is to maintain areas, with rules (if I haven’t used/worn it without a year, it’s time to donate it), temporary storage areas (such as the file organizer for mail, or a bin for donations), and regular clean-up sessions (once we get organized, maybe going through a particular area once every six months to reevaluate/clean up as necessary).

 

Again, we can’t expect to get it right on the first try, and we can’t expect it to always be Pinterest-perfect. The more passes you take—and I speak from experience—the less stressed you’ll feel by your stuff, the less overwhelmed by clutter, and the more quickly your regular maintenance sessions will go.

What about you? What are your problem areas, organization-wise? What systems have you put in place to control clutter? What works—or doesn’t work—for you?

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Can you live a creative life without clutter?

Amethyst Guest Room 2.jpg

This is the question I’ve been forced to ask as I drastically scale back my possessions. My most recent project has been decluttering the room that has been, in the two and a half years we’ve lived in our townhouse, a study, a library, and now, a guest room. It has housed, at various points, a desk, a chair and ottoman, and four bookshelves. Today it now contains a simple shelf that houses my collection of gemstones, now stored in a beautiful purple jewelry box my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas, images of the goddess and god, and a few treasured mementos. In addition, we’ve moved in the futon from my husband’s office. I pared my book collection down from four bookcases to two, and those are now in theoffice.

The room feels simple, light, and airy, with warm amethyst walls and lots of natural light. It has a feeling of magic, and my creativity shines through in the thoughtfully decorated shelf and artwork hanging on the wall. A box containing my tarot cards sits in one corner, and two small drums wait to be played in meditation.

Amethyst Guest Room 1.jpg

The room has been transformed from a crammed storage space for stuff, a room rarely used, to a space for relaxation and contemplation.

I used to think being creative meant always having a messy desk. Today, I no longer own a desk, preferring to curl up on the sofa, in a comfy chair, or on the patio with my laptop and a cup of coffee while I work. I used to be afraid to let go of a single scrap of paper with a story idea or line written on it. Today I thank these ideas for coming into my life, and release them. I used to save binders full of articles and story critiques; today I keep only what’s necessary and gratefully release the rest.

I’ve let go of crafting supplies for false starts and failed hobbies—the jewelry-making kits from fifteen years ago, the art easel from a decade ago. And what I’ve gained is space—not just physical space, but, more importantly, mental space. The shelf I mentioned earlier also contains two scrapbooks that I’m working on, a book of shadows and a wedding scrapbook. Scrapbooking is my latest creative endeavor (aside from writing, of course), and by letting go of the false starts and the old ideas, I’ve made all this space to focus on the beauty and bounty of the present and the creative potential of the future.

We now have a room for our guests to rest their heads, and a place away from distraction to sit, write, journal, meditate, read, create, contemplate. And I’ve found that clutter and creativity don’t have to go hand in hand.

I’m finding that by making space, I’m creating room for creativity to blossom, bloom, and flourish.

And that’s priceless.

I’d like to end with giving you a writing update, but this was a week of rest, as some health woes kept me from really digging in to revisions of Oak-Bound. Hopefully next week is more favorable. The decluttering process will also continue in the weeks ahead.

Looking forward to the week ahead, I’d like to dig in to those revisions and continue the process of simplifying, decluttering, and cozying up our home. And as I move forward, realize that by doing so, I’m freeing up space and time for the creative projects that are closest to my heart.

What about you? How do you grapple with creative clutter?

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Simple Living: What to Keep?

Stack of stones balanced
Bruce Parrott | Dreamstime Stock Photos

As many of you know, one of my missions for 2017 is to drastically simplify my life. I’ve packed up boxes of stuff—extra dishes, knickknacks and picture frames, even books, and am working toward having a more streamlined home.

I’ve been reading a lot about minimalism, and I’ve read enough to know that I am not a minimalist. I want my home to feel cozy, and for me that means a few meaningful items here and there. It’s a balancing act, finding that place that is “enough.” Enough stuff. Enough books. Enough dishes. Enough artwork. Just enough.

I’m not sure how we know when we’ve reached that point. I’m learning simple living is more of a process than a destination. I’ve boxed up a lot of stuff and tucked it away in the attic. If I don’t miss it within the next six months, I’ll go ahead and donate it to a local thrift store.

We’re moving toward a simpler life. The arrival of spring helps with that. More time spent outdoors, going hiking or simply sitting outside with a notebook in my lap. Opening the windows and letting the birdsong and fresh air in. It’s a process. We’re getting there.

As far as writing, I’m making progress with Spellfire’s Kiss. I have cover art and some promotional materials made up; more on that in a few months. I’m 70 percent of the way through a read-through of the latest draft. My goal is to finish the read-through tonight and start working through my notes tonight or tomorrow. I’d like to get this story to my critique partners by early next week.

On the reading front, I’ve read 10 books out of 30 for the year. I just finished reading a book on simple living, Simple Living: 30 Days to Less Stuff and More Life, by Lorilee Lippincott. It was good, although a lot of the tips were things I’d already done. I’d recommend it if you’re just starting to simplify your life, but if you’re further along in your journey, it might just be a reminder more than fresh information. I’m currently reading Blood Wyne by Yasmine Galenorn, which is fantastic.

What about you? Are you interested in simple living? What is the hardest part for you? What have you decided to keep or not to keep? How are your writing and reading goals coming along?

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Sweeping away the cobwebs

dreamstime_xxl_82932870 creativecommonsstockphotos Dreamstime Stock Photos
Creative Commons Stock Photos | Dreamstime.com

Sometimes in life it is necessary to sweep the cobwebs away. We get stuck in a rut, and it’s hard to break out. Lately I’ve been in just such a rut. I’ve been hobbling along with my writing. I’ll do well for a few days, and then I won’t write for a few days. It’s disheartening, and it’s a pattern I’m determined to break. So I’m going back to my goal of doing something writing related every day. It might mean actively writing or revising. It might be reading a book on craft or exploring an aspect of the creative process in some fashion. I am determined to get Spellfire’s Kiss finished and off to CPs and beta readers. That story is so close, and it means so much to me, and I’d like to share it with others.

I’m brushing away the cobwebs in many areas of my life. In my writing, I’m trying to establish a healthy routine that allows me to make steady progress. In my home, I’m undertaking a massive decluttering. This weekend I packed up five boxes of dishes and miscellaneous items from our kitchen and dining room. I’ve already decluttered the living room, with the exception of our DVD collection, which we plan on digitizing. Next I’ll move on to the upstairs, particularly our bedroom closet and our office, which are brimming with clutter.

What I’ve realized is this: I want to live a creative life, a life of creativity, love, and compassion. And to do that, I can’t make excuses. I have to create, daily, even as my energy waxes and wanes.

As I pare away the excess in my physical life, I hope to make mental and emotional space for creativity.

On the home front, I’ve done a ton of decluttering and painted a wall in the living room. Three walls down, one to go. I’ve hung some art in the living room and entryway and am working on decluttering room by room.

On the writing front, I’ve written a mere 121 words so far this week, in a novelette in the Faerie Forest series. The working title is Redcap in the Library, which kind of gives it away, I know. No progress yet this week on Spellfire’s Kiss, though I only have one more scene to write in Michael’s character arc and then I can start weaving that into the rest of the manuscript, after which I’ll dig into revisions.

As far as reading, I’m still reading Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance by Julia Cameron. I’ve thrown another book into the mix, Christine Danse’s Island of Icarus, a steampunk M/M romance. It’s turning out to be a sweet story that I’m enjoying so far. I also read Street Team Smarts by Sara Humphreys, which was more of a guide than a book, at 18 or so pages, but we’ll count that, too. And I finished reading The Joy of Less by Francine Jay this weekend, which I highly recommend. In keeping with my desire to move more slowly and thoughtfully this year, I’ve scaled back my reading goal to 30 books. I’m one book ahead of schedule, according to Goodreads.

And that’s where I’m at. Brushing away the cobwebs and paring away the excess to focus on what I love.

What about you? Have you ever taken on a massive decluttering? Did it free up mental space? How is your creative journey going?

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A Cozy Chair and a Room Full of Books!

library

So I have been terrible about blogging in 2017. I’d like to get back into it because I’ve missed the ROW80 community and hearing what everyone is up to.

So what have I been up to, you might ask? Well, another round of decluttering my home, and trying to really settle in and make this place feel like home. We’ve lived in our townhouse for over a year, but I really need some paint on the walls and some other things to put my own personal stamp on it. That goes hand in hand with decluttering because I want to have less stuff to manage and more open space.

That being said, I think I’ll make my decluttering/decorating/organizing goals part of my ROW80 goals, along with writing and reading.

On the writing front, I’m working on a revision plan for my novella Spellfire’s Kiss. I’m toying with the idea of making some bigger changes to that one, but I want to start sending it out on submission this year, hopefully before summer.

As far as reading goes, this week I read The Cozy Life by Pia Edberg. It’s all about the Danish concept of Hygge, which loosely translates as “coziness” or “homey-ness.” If you don’t know anything about the concept, the book is worth a read—and there are some delicious-sounding recipes included that I want to try! I’m currently reading Autumn Thorns, the first in the Whisper Hollow series by Yasmine Galenorn. It’s all about a spirit shaman who returns to her roots in a small Pacific Northwest town to help wrangle the dead and undead. Picture Supernatural with a strong female lead. I recommend it!

And, on the decluttering/decorating front, I’m trying out some paint samples in the living room with the goal of getting that room painted. My home library is now up and running, complete with a cozy chair and shelves full of my favorite books!

My goals for the rest of Round One:

  • Finish the fifth draft of Spellfire’s Kiss.
  • Continue on my quest to read 40 books in 2017—that’s 10 per quarter, so 10 books per round.
  • Continue with my quest to both declutter and make the townhouse cozier.
  • At least one non-writing related creative endeavor a week—scrapbooking, decorating, cooking/baking, etc.

What about you? How has 2017 been for you?

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Lessons in Minimalism

Snow Heart
by Dmitry Maslov | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Saturday was a day filled with snow and biting cold wind, and so after a few excursions into the snowy hills with puppy Leo and an adventure out to do some shopping (okay, mostly to get away from the house, because I work from home and sometimes I need a change of scenery), hubby and I curled up and watched Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things. I loved it.

I am not and probably will never be a minimalist. Maybe if I’d discovered the philosophy when I was twenty, but not currently. But I think we can still learn from the philosophy. Thanks to reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I’ve already let go of a lot of excess stuff, and am continuing to. For most of us, decluttering is an ongoing process, and that’s what makes it such a challenge.

But what minimalism teaches us, and what the documentary stresses, is emphasizing relationships and purpose over stuff. Our stuff can take over our lives, and to be honest, sometimes that’s what it feels like for me. I feel like I spend so much time dusting and organizing and rearranging. How much easier would it be to live in a small home and own a minimal amount of items? How much more time could I devote to what really calls to me, to magic and the Goddess and writing and creativity, if I owned less?

And so that knowledge drives me forward. Watching documentaries, reading books and articles and blog posts about simplifying, minimizing, decluttering, help me on my journey. And that’s what it is. A journey to less stuff–and more living.

That being said, here’s a brief check-in on my goals for this round, which are fairly streamlined, in keeping with the minimalist theme for today:

  • Write 300-500 words daily. Week One is a success! I wrote 3,349 words this week. My highest word count was 696; my lowest was 337. Not a bad start.
  • Stay close to sources of inspiration by meditating, doing yoga, journaling, spending time in nature, and exploring other creative outlets. (See specific, measurable goals below.) Walks in the snow, bought some healing crystals for kitty Roo, who has a heart arrhythmia that’s triggering seizures, and some lapis lazuli for hubby’s headaches.
  • Journal at least three times a week. 2/3. Friday’s journaling was cut short by a very poorly behaved puppy.
  • Explore another creative outlet at least twice a week. 2/2. Tried a new recipe—broccoli cheddar quiche. Baked chocolate chip cookies. Hoping to paint the trim in my office today and then next week get the library set up so I have a sanctuary for reading, writing, and journaling in the evenings.

What about you? Are you interested in minimalism? Are you a minimalist, or do you incorporate any of its teachings or philosophies into your life? How was the first week of 2017 for you writing-wise?

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Why I’m Simplifying

As many of you know, I’ve been on a mission to declutter my home. I moved (twice, technically) earlier this year. Once we put all everything in storage and lived with my in-laws for several weeks until our townhouse was ready. And then we pulled all of those boxes out of our storage units and packed it all into our new home.

I realize if I move again, I don’t want to be carting around that much stuff. So that’s one reason I’m simplifying. But I’m also doing it for peace of mind. I need space so there’s room for energy to flow in my home. I need less to take care of so I can devote time to what really matters.

In my ideal world, I’d do yoga or tai chi or meditate daily. I’d sit out in a nearby park with my journal and free-write. My home would be a serene and calm space for making art and connecting to my spirituality. And decluttering is part of that.

ROW80 check-in:

Writing: Wrote 4,507 words. Finished my short story “Into the Faerie Forest” and started a draft of a novella, Goblins and Grimoires. I also did some plotting for the latter, which is an expanded version of a short story I wrote last year.

Reading: Finished If I’m So Smart, Why Can’t I Get Rid of this Clutter? by Sallie Felton. It wasn’t my favorite. I think it’s that I’m already a fairly organized person—I just want to own less stuff. If you’re really disorganized, this book will be helpful. Started reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for—a system for getting rid of a bunch of stuff and living with less. Highly recommend. Also started The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. It is amazing. Another book I would recommend.

Decluttering: So, I abandoned my goal to get rid of five things a day for 100 days. The reason? It was too slow. Instead, this weekend, inspired by The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up, I went through all of my books, clothes, etc., and did a major decluttering. I would estimate I got rid of four or five boxes of books, a large bag full of clothes and blankets, and a large box of miscellaneous stuff. I also want to go through my dishes and get rid of some. That will probably take up two small boxes. I’ll still have to go through the stuff that’s in the attic, but I’m now happy with the number of books and clothing items I own. A big step forward on that front.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

Have you ever tried to simplify your life? Why? How would you feel if you owned less stuff? What would your ideal day look like?

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Sunday ROW80 check-in: Decluttering Madness

As far as writing goes, April was a slow month. I did finish the third draft of “Good Old-Fashioned Magic,” though, so it wasn’t a total loss. I’d like to clean that one up and send it to beta readers so they can read it while I work on “Made of Shadows.”

April might have been slow for writing, but decluttering went extremely well. I’ve lost count, but I’ve gotten rid of well over 100 magazines and literally thousands of papers—in addition to a bunch of random items I just wasn’t using anymore. My office has never been so organized. I feel so much lighter now that I’m not bogged down by all of those pieces of paper and random items that were no longer useful. Trips to the recycling center and to Goodwill are definitely in order. I still have more to do, but I’m off to a strong start.

I’m glad I started on the decluttering process, because there’s a strong possibility that hubby and I will be moving to a new place this summer. Having less to pack and lug around will be wonderful. It also looks like I might be teaching in the fall, so I have that to plan for. A lot happened in April–thus my previous post on “distractions.”

Hopefully in May I can kick my writing in high gear and dig into these revisions on “Made of Shadows.” My goal is to have two or three query-ready drafts completed by the end of the year. I’m working toward that goal.

What about you? How are your goals, writing or otherwise, coming along? Have you started spring cleaning? Do you ever go on a decluttering spree? I’d love to hear from you!

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop!

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An exercise in decluttering—and a Sunday ROW80 check-in

photo by Patti O'Shea, WANA Commons
photo by Patti O’Shea, WANA Commons

I recently read an article in which the author discussed the following decluttering technique: Get rid of 10 things every day. These things can be as small as a pen that’s out of ink or a scrap of paper or as large as a piece of furniture.

I live in an 1,100-square-foot apartment, so decluttering is key to keeping my sanity. Every once in a while, I look around and realize my stuff has gotten out of control. That’s where I’m at right now.

Sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed by our stuff. A knickknack is one more thing to move when we’re dusting; a DVD is just taking up space on a shelf; an old coffee table is just pushed up against the wall and covered in clutter. I’m a big believer in simple living. I’m not a minimalist by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t like owning things simply because they might, one day, come in handy.

This exercise is easy because it doesn’t require emptying the contents of a closet, sorting through every item, and deciding what to get rid of. You simply wander around your home and choose 10 things you don’t need. Yesterday, for example, I got rid of the following items: two towels, five dried-up containers of acrylic paint, and three bottles of hotel lotion that were years old. Today, so far, I’ve gotten rid of four items: an old pair of my husband’s khakis that were riddled with holes, an old set of makeup brushes, and two cosmetic items.

I’m learning that decluttering is a process. I’m going to keep going with this exercise until I’m happy with the amount of stuff I own. After that, I’m going to try to implement a one-item in, one-item out policy: Every time I bring in something new, I get rid of something else.

What about you? Do you ever feel the urge to declutter? What process do you use?

Lastly, a Sunday ROW80 check-in…

Writing Goals

1.) Finish a third draft of “Good Old-Fashioned Magic.” Did some minor revisions and did a read-through. I’ve taken lots of notes and am ready to do another round of revisions.

2.) Finish a fourth draft of “Made of Shadows.” On hold.

3.) Finish a draft of another story, to be determined. On hold.

4.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. Read a chapter in “Plot and Structure” by James Scott Bell.

5.) Do morning pages daily, Monday-Friday. Three of five days.

Social Media Goals

1.) Check in on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest daily, Monday-Friday. Three of five days.

2.) Blog twice a week. Goal met.

3.) Comment on three-five blogs daily, Monday-Thursday. Met for Wednesday and Thursday, not for Monday and Tuesday.

ROW80 is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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