A couple of weeks ago I completed a challenge to toss 2,014 items I no longer find useful, helpful, or lovely. Even though the goal was to finish this task in the year 2014, (I know, I know…) I still claim victory. Actually, that was only Round One. At least that many more items still lurk around my home and garage, ready to make that One Last Trip to either the Salvation Army, the domestic violence shelter, the recycle bin or the trash can.
Most of the tossed items are now gone from my memory as well as my home. I couldn’t tell you what more than a half dozen of them were. Just as well. Even as I examined them, I wondered what had possessed me to buy them in the first place, or keep them this long.
I organized the treasures that I kept and can now tell you where (almost) everything is (if you really want to know, and it won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t, since I know you have my important things to think about…like what to do with your own stuff).
It was a huge, horrible job that took a lot of hard work, a lot of time, and a lot of determination. I am inordinately proud of that accomplishment. And I discovered something in the process (in addition to lots of buried treasure.)
Little things can trip you up. Little things can stall your progress, even derail your whole project. Little things become big things if you don’t deal with them.
For example, after sorting and storing all the Christmas decorations on the top shelf in the garage, I ran across an unopened package of Santa-sporting gift tags. Darn it. I didn’t want to drag out the ladder, climb up, balance myself on the top rung, stuff the package into the red box with the green lid, climb back down, all the while risking breaking something important (mostly, any part of my body.) What to do? Throw them away? That went against my father’s instructions to me on frugality. They were still perfectly good, after all.
“I’ll just stick them here for the moment,” I reasoned, laying them on the edge of a stack of games, organized by box width. Later, I found two CDs I couldn’t remember purchasing much less ever hearing and decided to check with other family members before adding those CDs to the to-go pile. Where to put them until then? How about right here in this crack between the box of slides to go through some day and my high school yearbooks? Perfect!
Then I stumbled across a few other items that seemingly fit into no category whatsoever. I set them aside and, finding a way to have some fun in this whole process, quoted out loud (to myself) a line from my favorite movie, “I’ll think about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is…another day!”
After a few more such discoveries and decisions, I stepped back to examine my progress. My delight turned to disappointment. I hadn’t properly dealt with those little things and now they had messed up my goal in a big way.
I would like to tell you that since then, I now leave no detail, no matter how small, unattended. That I address every point of an issue, no matter how long it may take me. That I complete every aspect of all tasks, no matter how inconvenient at the moment, because I know they will come back to bite me in the bum if I do not.
I would like to tell you that, but it wouldn’t be true. But I can tell you that I have gotten much better at follow-through and paying attention to little details. That’s a goal for 2015. I’m hopeful I’ll continue to improve. It’s still just August!
What “little things” distract you? What are you doing to overcome them? Good luck! I’m hopeful you will make great progress!
Carol, I love this. I’m in desperate need of a good cleaning out myself and intend to start post-haste. Thanks for the motivation and example you’ve set for me!
Good article, Carol. I wish I had started counting the things I’ve gotten rid of the last few months to see how close I came to 2014 (does a set of dishes count as one thing or do you count each piece individually? Does a package of 40 plastic silverware count as 40? Anyway, I’m still sorting, but what DO you do with things like old yearbooks (6 of mine and 6 of Gary’s.) TC loves it when I come in with things. Betty used to say it was like Christmas. Goodwill likes me too!
Donna, 40 pieces of plastic ware counts as 40 things in my book!
Carol, congratulations on meeting your goal! I’m still making slow progress on mine, but multiple items a week is better progress than none. Thanks for the life lesson!
We just moved a year ago. I’m giving myself an exemption from another radical purge, but it made me appreciate your post. Congratulations on a major victory!
John and I move when we need to de-clutter…lol. My daughter wants a photo of our dog from her childhood so once in a while I look at the stack of albums and boxes in the closet and say, “Not today” and close the door. Thanks for another nudge to get rid of stuff!
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Good job, Carol! Such fun to read about your amazing progress. 🙂