Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Calm in the Clutter

Yes, yes, I know it's been a long while. I'd offer excuses, but I don't have that kind of time. I have a lot I want to accomplish today. My list of excuses can wait.

So, what has brought me back here? I'm clearing clutter, and I'm finding it rather anxiety-inducing. Just clearing up around my computer desk is causing shortness of breath, though the clouds of dust I'm stirring up might have something to do with my impaired breathing.

My strategy for quelling this anxiety is to cut my work into small, manageable chunks. I set a timer for 15 minutes and work until the timer goes off. (FYI, the timer came in a case of beer. Beer. Another useful, stress-reducing strategy, though probably not one I should indulge in before my task is done.)

(Who am I kidding? There is no "done" to this task.)

Yep, 15 minutes is all I can manage before I start stress over the simplest decisions. Keep or toss? What if I need it again later? It was a gift. What if that person who never visits somehow knows I re-homed it?

And on, and on, and on. 

I've used a timer before when doing the same task. (Yes, I do let things pile up. This job gets done less often than needed. I wait until the mountain reaches hyperventilation-inducing heights before I tackle it.) In the past I'd work for 15 minutes, then play computer games for 15 minutes. (Anyone else remember Pogo? Word Whomp? Sweet Tooth? Does Pogo still exist? I don't dare look or I'll never get back to work. Timer be damned!)

Today I've decided to write in 15 minute increments between bursts of organizing. So far it's working. I find it strange that writing and cleaning are both tasks that I tend to drift away from. I like writing. Tidying... not so much. The timer is keeping me focused. For brief periods anyway. 

I imagine cleaning clutter compares to participating in an archaeological dig.There's the aforementioned dust. There are items of questionable origin. There are items that can no longer be identified. And sometimes there are discoveries:

- Money - I keep finding change. So far the total is 37 cents Canadian, and a small packet of South African currency. Spare change in unlikely places is said to be a sign that Abundantia, the Roman goddess of prosperity, is watching over you. That idea makes me happy, and has me looking more carefully for coins in overlooked corners.

- Writing - Several lists of ideas for blog posts, and a couple of outlines for posts. (When is it too late to share?) The opening paragraphs of a young adult story. (Written years ago when challenged by a co-worker on a slow night at work.) An outline for a children's story about an adventurous spider. (Conceived early one morning in that strange place between sleep and awake. Written in bed so I wouldn't forget.) A poem to my book club commemorating a Christmas get-together. 

- Mementos - Ticket stubs from assorted events (some I even meant to document here.) My wrist band from last October's Pearl Jam concert. (Main floor at Joe Louis Arena! Woot!) My sonic screwdriver and my 3D glasses from the Doctor Who movie.

- Photos - School photos of my niece and nephew.  Old passport photos. My university student card. (No, I won't be sharing. I look rather green in that photo, and it's not just because the picture has faded. I remember having a terrible migraine the day it was taken. I've never looked good in green.)

- Crafts - Three unfinished knitting projects. (A Christmas stocking, a scarf and a hat. They're kind of bulky, and they should have been hard to lose track of. THAT'S how messy my desk is.) Two completed crocheted snowflakes. 

- More Money - Abundantia smiles on me today. I just found a basket of pennies hiding behind the knitting.

- Coin-Rolling Tubes - A bag of these tubes had fallen behind my desk. A good discovery, as the Canadian Government phased out pennies a few years ago. I'm going to need to roll all those pennies to redeem them at the bank. 

- Stationery - Two blank, spiral-bound notebooks. Two unused legal pads, and a few partially used ones. A pencil from NASA. Four sparkly pencils with Canadian-flag erasers. Several pens and markers. (Most of them probably don't work. Testing, AND DISCARDING, them is a job for another day.)

- Even More Money - Another basket of pennies. Thank you Abundantia! I knew about this basket, but I thought it contained paper clips. I wonder how many rolls of pennies the bank will take? What will I do if the bank doesn't want them? (Oops. Just got sucked into a "crafts using pennies" Google search. I don't have enough coins (or time, or patience) to do any of the cool stuff. Probably a good thing. I don't need any more unfinished projects cluttering up my space.)

Alternating de-cluttering time with writing time has helped to keep my anxiety at a manageable level. Recording my archaeological discoveries here has helped to make the process fun. For me at least. Good thing I've found something that works. There's a lot more to go. I've barely scratched, or rather cleared, the surface of a very small portion of our house. I don't want to think of that right now. I do believe Hubby is pouring me that beer...

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