Monday, May 31, 2010

Today's Huh? Moment.

From CNN's article on energizing:
"9. To find the juice to de-clutter your surroundings: Picture a tidy space
Clutter is a great big drag on your energy -- and not just because of all the stuff taking up space. "So much of what ends up as clutter are tasks that we haven't finished or obligations we haven't been able to meet," says professional organizer Emily Wilska, founder of San Francisco--based The Organized Life. "Who wants to be in a space where there are constant reminders of things you should be doing or aspiring to?"
Wilska suggests mind-mapping to get motivated: Clip pictures from magazines and write down snippets or words that describe your goal -- "I want an organized living room so I can invite my girlfriends over for our book club." Then post them on the fridge, the bathroom mirror, or on your computer desktop as a reminder of where you're headed."

Um. Did this not just contradict itself completely?
Nothing will remind me faster that there are things I should be doing or aspiring to than pictures from a magazine of perfect rooms, with "goals" written on them. Who indeed wants to be in a space with constant reminders strewn about, especially if they are unrealistic reminders designed to nag? I know that I can learn to make lace from my lace bobbin kit sitting by my couch. I know that I can't have an immaculate living room with pretentious furniture and knick-knacks with no personality--and I wouldn't want to.
I admit I am a person with clutter. Lots of it. I have always lived in small spaces--small, boxlike bedroom, including storage of things that aren't mine; single dorm room with community bathroom across the hall; efficiency apartment. I also have a lot of stuff; I have a lot of clothes, but it also seems like I have more than I do because my closet is miniscule. When things are stressful, I have trouble keeping my spaces tidy, and I only really notice this when people come to visit.
I like my clutter. I like hidden storage, and I like for things to have a place, but I don't mind when my books aren't lined up straight, or when I have clothes to put away. Recently I've found that I like the look of a (halfassedly) made bed, even if I am not that keen on sleeping with my sheets and blankets that way, but that is one of few concessions to tidiness. I would like more space, but I'm not going crazy in my small, cluttered space with projects all over.
It's my stuff. I like it where it is.


hadjare said...

I would love to see some snapshots of your living space.

Emily said...

Hi Abs,

As is true of many magazine articles, alas, a 30-minute conversation with the writer often gets distilled into a few short lines of text, so a lot of the context and details of that conversation are ultimately lost.

I tell my clients and the readers of my blog--to an annoyingly repetitive end sometimes--that organization isn't about perfection, and often has nothing at all to do with neatness. "A tidy space" here was the author's phrase, not mine. My message: often the stuff that becomes clutter in our lives is hanging around because we feel like we need to do something with it--books to read, projects to complete, clothes to wear (someday), and on and on and on.

I like the goal-setting part of organizing because it helps give some shape and direction to what can often feel like an overwhelming and rudderless process. When people try to get organized because they feel like they *should*, it can be a pretty painful experience. When they're working toward something, though--whether that's being able to have friends over without frantically shoving stuff into closets, or being able to get out of the house in the morning with less chaos and less stress, or simply having a home that feels more comfortable, whether or not it's "tidy"--it's often easier to stay motivated and engaged.

I hope this helps give a bit more background to those short blurbs in the original article. It sounds like you're pretty happy with your living space as it is, which, to me, means you're organized--so cheers to that!


Abs said...

Dear Emily,
Thank you for your response; I am all too aware of the nature of interview-to-article--that is why I identified the article as "CNN's article" rather than indicating the contradition was yours! Sometimes I don't know why I read these advice-based articles on online news sites--they are inevitably so pared down they aren't terribly useful. As I read I sympathized with you because the writer set up such a logical issue in the rhetoric (I'm a teacher of writing--does it show?).

I appreciate your perspective, I really do. I know some people love or wish to hire someone to help them organize. I, however, shake my head in bafflement. My mind doesn't work that way. When I do decide to rearrange cupboards, or when I was forced to redo my clothing storage due to a leak, half the fun was doing the problem solving myself, and working out how I wanted it to be. Giving myself reminders or hiring assistance would send me off the rails with stress! :) I'm a "nester"--I dig myself into a space and arrange it to my sole liking, with objects of comfort and sentimental value around me. I've come to understand that this is part of my own personality and I like it.

I very much appreciate your clarifying your views for me (and my few blog readers)! Thank you for your input!

Anonymous said...

Awesome that Ms. Wilska found your entry and was able to clarify a bit -- and so pleasantly!

I've known for a long time that a lot of clutter is tasks undone -- I imagine the little project piles glaring or sighing at me, and I feel my blood pressure going up when there are half-done things strewn around the house.

Now I have that one large worktable in my study for project piles, from which I can pick and choose. Mending. Beading. Photo albums. Letters to reply to. And books unread are allowed to pile on my nightstand as high as my lampshade bottom and that's it -- otherwise some get put back on shelves for another long while, or returned to the library.

If I'm so disinterested in a project or book that it's been sitting around for months and months, time to store it away. I just did that with the wedding dress seam binding project, sorry to say. My enthusiasm faded quickly. It's back in the garment bag, and my study feels so much lighter and tidier.