Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Clarity Project

I started in on a project about six months ago that I nicknamed 'the clarity project.' Another name might be cleaning up a mess that has accumulated over probably eight years.

I started going through rooms and digging out stuff that was squirreled away in our house--in closets and drawers and boxes. I attacked one room of the house at a time and tried to address any items that could be thrown out, given to charity, or shredded. In this manner I went through the rooms of the house. I still haven't gone through the basement (that's Phase 2).

I saved until last the room that Dave and I have our file cabinets in, (a little spare bedroom with just a desk and dressers and file cabinets). That room holds all of our papers. The reason that I saved it until last is because it was the biggest mess of all. I had given up on filing things and just had papers stacked in big piles on top of both cabinets and on the floor! It was a disaster. I could never have found any bill that I needed if there was an urgent need. It took me a month to go through the cabinet and those papers. I overheated our shredder I used it so much during that time. I even found the vet records from the two cats that I took to Germany with me in 1985.

Once I got rid of all the unneeded papers (probably 90% of the total), then I organized the drawers and even set up a system for current and previous year items like utilities, that I would shred at the end of a certain timeframe. Once I had the file cabinet in order, I went and signed up for paperless billing for the majority of our household bills. Then, I hurried and set up electronic folders in my computer so that everything would be organized.

What a great relief. And my system works. Dave needed a tax form. I went and got the folder from my file cabinet that it SHOULD have been in and voila! It was there. I was pretty proud of myself. I called this the Clarity Project, because my good friend, Catherine, is working on a business plan for a company where she would contract to clean out and organize things for people--kind of like I did.

This has been a very satisfying project for me. I have thought about how I let all this get out of control, and I was easily able to identify when and why. Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and before it was diagnosed, I went for months with feeling that I didn't have enough energy to move. That's when I really developed some bad habits of putting things off and not finishing projects. I did that because I was always expecting to run out of energy, and at that time, typically I did.

One big aspect of my Clarity project involved magazines. Dave and I used to subscribe to a lot of magazines. We don't anymore, but over ten years or so, I got the magazines, wanted to read them but didn't feel I had time or energy, and so put them in my basement storage room for later. Later never came. As part of the clarity project, I have done some work in that basement room, which I will finish in the fall and winter. I threw out a lot of magazines. I organized and started going through the ones that I wanted to look at before getting rid of. I organized two or three binders with information from the magazines that I wanted to save: Gardening, Home Improvements, etc. I guess there were probably over six hundred magazines in that room when I started in on them. I'm down to 72, which are stacked on the library table, and I go through and dispose of 5 or 6 a week.

Clarity feels great.