Clutter, you die.

Monday evening was spent going through mountains of bills, papers, etc. Now everything is filed, discarded or in the shredding pile. Progress! I decided that in spite of Starrynight Productions taking over my already cramped and messy living quarters, I am NOT going to be squeezed out of my own home by useless crap.

I found this list of tips from Zen Habits to be pretty helpful, if not commonsensical, in the fight against clutter. With most things, if you want to make a change in your life, you begin by changing habits. I could clean the apartment from top to bottom but within a month you’d never know it was clean. The word “choices” in #2 of Zen Habit’s list finally clicked something into place for me. I’m not really a pack rat. I can be very non-sentimental about objects and often get rid of things in a torrent of frustration (much like Monday night). I am however, horribly indecisive and this trait appears to be effecting my living space (and car-space: the now unregistered Aries is collecting wasp nests). I often leave something sitting on the table for months (like a time-sensitive wedding invitation) because I haven’t made a decision. I receive gifts that I don’t know what to do with and they just sit somewhere. Unconsciously I make a decision to not make a choice- I put it off. So really, my clutter, indecisiveness and procrastination are linked. Ah hah.

I know this will sound dorky but two weeks ago I outlined a cleaning plan by area in the apartment. I figured that shorter, focused bursts of cleaning will be more effective than setting aside my precious only day off to clean- and then suddenly find myself distracted by books or whatever movie Russell is watching when that day comes. At any rate, having a plan of attack makes me confident that I can tackle mess a little at a time every evening so I don’t kill my only day off a week.

As for changing habits, I’m going to start simple and try to be more aware of other habits to work on. Easy changes:

  • No more bringing junk mail into the apartment. If it doesn’t contain sensitive personal information, it goes into the trash by the mailboxes outside. Sensitive material will go in the bin for shredding.
  • Manage magazine and catalog subscriptions, canceling where necessarily or switching to online-only content instead of print. I get a lot of newsletters I’d rather not receive (IU Art Museum, Rutgers, etc.) because I don’t read them. If I want to do a quick browse, I’d rather do it online.
  • Non-essential items that I’d like to buy will go on a list in a small notebook with the date indicating when the item was added to the list. If I still feel like I need the item in 30 days, then I’ll consider buying it (I’ve tried this before but loose pieces of paper don’t stick around- they’re clutter!). Some things to put on this list: a full length wool winter coat (not necessary, I have a winter coat already), a digital camera and Adobe CS4 Design Premium (at the educational rate of $600, this last item more accurately resides in the yeah, I wish category).

Now if I could get my spouse-creature to work on the habit changing…