First, clean it all out. Decluttering adventures restarted

Things I am trying to accept about myself: I can’t think if there is mess around me. I wish I could power through, but no.

Thinking is really important. There are many, many things I want to do. I’ve been trying to get to them for months. That I haven’t is down to many things, but my inability to have a clear mind owing to the ongoing clutter situation in our home is part of it.

Kitchen counters and stove full of dishes and food.
The kitchen never sleeps.

It’s not that we have SO very much. We have got rid of lots of things lots of times. I’ve definitely sent bags and boxes out, and dropped off piles of books in little libraries (without picking up any replacement books! Most of the time … and only once grabbing back a book I still wanted. Not bad?). But still, the piles and covered surfaces and too-full shelves are psychologically overwhelming to me.

Related self-realizations: though there are lots of things I like to have, I’m happier with less. A smaller volume of things brings me more joy than any individual item I could own. Getting rid of stuff and creating space releases my spirits more than acquiring new things to fill the space. In other words, overall, my life will be happier if I stop acquiring and start saying good-bye to more things.

Admitting this, and looking ahead to what fall will bring, my spouse and I have decided: time to make getting-done and clearing-out our priorities. I might as well admit that I simply am not going to write in any meaningful way until we have properly sifted through our possessions, found a home for everything (within reason, for now), and ticked off most of the outstanding items on our list.

Wow, just writing that feels AMAZING.

So, today, I re-tackled my clothes. I’ve gone through my clothes many, many, many, many times. So many. So many times, that today, all I could find to let go of were an old sports bra and a worn-out nightgown. And one scarf I’m going to somehow let go of. And a back pack that doesn’t fit comfortably. I think.

Somehow, not getting rid of clothes–even though I don’t have much–still felt unsatisfactory. Like I missed something. So I did a final walk-through before bed, touched every item and asked, “do I actually want to put this on my body?” Amazingly, the answer was yes. After I did this final check, I felt a surge of satisfaction. I believe I can now call this category complete! My understanding of joy may still be nascent (and I have thoughts about self-honesty and personal growth related to that), but I think I’ve got it for the clothes.

Clothes drawer with folded clothing
Shirts, perhaps not perfectly folded but manageable.

Brilliant discovery: Gmail tasks!

My life will be revolutionized through my recent discovery of the task option in gmail!
I am constantly managing to do list. Writing lists is one of the main get-things-done strategies I use. I’ve maintained word documents for years with my “big” list (learn languages, write 18 paper ideas 🙂 and others. However, this approach hasn’t been working lately. I’ve had too many lists, too many tasks, and no clear plan for moving forward with the lists. I know there’s the card method with getting things done, but I don’t see myself using something like that right now. I need a fast way to list and organize tasks.

Yay for tasks in gmail! It’s fast and easy to create items. I can put them on several lists if need be. I can easily move them up or down in priority. There are a number of other options I can use to add notes to tasks and other things I haven’t even explored. The lists can be printed in case I want a hard-copy back-up. I love it!!

For now, I think I’m going with a single list. I moved most of my to-dos over today and prioritized them. I see pending strategic questions about the value of multiple lists, and what to do with big important items that might slip down the list.

I also cut some items that really aren’t important, or are of the “it would be nice if I XYZ” variety. One of these is my plan to mobilize a country-wide strategy via Facebook and in-person manager meetings to get Chapters to stop stocking “Babywise.” I want to do this – but right now, no. This is an important strategic and practical choice given my feelings of limited time and a need to say no to what is extra work. I need to resist my ongoing temptation to do MORE.

Related: because it’s easy to add items to an electronic list, I commit to being careful about what I do add (do I really need to do it? Do I want to? Does it need to be on the list? Is it reasonable for me to tackle this?). At the same time, I recognize the value of the mind dump approach of Getting Things Done: if I’m thinking it and probably want/need to do it, it goes on the list.