DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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7 May 2013

Cleaning and organising a work area

I'm sure most of you who knit, sew or create with your hands will identify with this. I'm trying to organise my work room so I have enough room to write, which is my main occupation, and still have bits and pieces in full view so I'm inspired and comforted by them. I am more creative in controlled chaos. In the past it didn't really matter what my room looked like, I could be disorganised in there and only I would see it. But now Jamie comes into my room frequently and although he doesn't touch anything, I want to move all the pins, needles and scissors to safer places. I want and need my room to work as a creative space as well as having it tidy and organised (within reason). It's difficult for me because I am, by nature, quietly chaotic.




As you can see by the three photos above, I don't have much room on my desk and everything is messy. Funnily enough, I know where everything is.

I am a notebook person. These are part of my current crop.


Slow progress is being made here. You might not see it but it is happening. My desk is not pristine, I doubt it ever will be, but I do have space to work now.

There is a beautiful view from my window, looking out onto our green and lush front garden. It's a bit overgrown at the moment but there is order there too if you look. That's what I'm aiming for in my work room - ordered, but not rigidly so.

I'm moving into a very busy work period that will last until at least September so if I can infuse a little order into my work space now, I know I'll benefit from it. I guess one of my problems is that although I could put away a lot of the things on my desk, I like looking at them. I wonder if you feel like that too in your work space.

I'm going to clean out and tidy up a couple of shelves, boxes, and my desk and see how I feel about it.  I'll do the shelves first because if I do the desk first, I'll probably think I deserve a medal after that and stop. I often use the 15 minute limit tactic but it's not working with this task. Not doing it is not an option and I know when it's all done I'll be glad I put the effort into it, but it's the starting that's the sticking point. Secretly I like it the way it is but I know I'll be more productive and the grandkids will be safer if I ignore my preference and just do it.

What tactics do you use when you have to do something in the house that you know needs to be done but you haven't really got the will to do it?  

38 comments:

  1. I am new to your blog. What do you enjoy writing about outside of this?

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  2. I usually have to make an even bigger mess by pulling everything out of the drawers, totally covering the work surface so that it's completely unusable, which then forces my hand to get on with completing the task ;) This used to work better before I had a baby, though, because I could just stay with the task until it was finished! When it's all done, I light a candle in the room, and put a jar with flowers out, too, as my reward. Then I vow to keep it that way, which of course never happens because (although I love the look of a minimalist, clean work space), I work best, at least from a creative standpoint, with things spread out around me. Good luck with your space!
    -Jaime

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  3. I'm moving house and I don't want to take all of our junk with us so I have boxes and boxes of paper work to sort through as well as toys and the kids pictures to put into folders - it's such a mammoth task I need motivating to start it! In general though the thing I always avoid is putting the washing away I don't know why but I really dislike it

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  4. Discipline.....that's all.......your post resonates with me today Rhonda.. Yesterday...my mum decided to fly up for a vist on Thursday so I have some major overhauling of my sewing room to fit a bed in......Christopher has been using the room as a general dumping ground during our renovations......oh I want to go back to bed and pull the quilt over my head....motivation is hard to find sometimes...but at least I have a deadline and it will be done in some fashion I guess....

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  5. Oh I would love to have a separate and dedicated work room but real estate is very precious where I live. Right now I have to use my dining table and pile all the things I need on the chairs. This is not a satisfactory solution. Little by little I am getting rid of a lot of my craft stuff. I hope eventually to only keep what I know I will really work on and stop buying (or inheriting) anything more. Happy organizing!

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  6. I'm in a rut right now, and doing my best to do what I can with each new day. I do feel better when things are more organized and surfaces somewhat cleared. It's not easy when you are creative and have several projects going on at once. :-)

    You've inspired me to keep at it.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

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  7. Oh how I long for a studio where I can work in solitude and leave things knowing they will remain undisturbed! When it comes to difficult tasks I either plough right through in one day or break it up into bite-sized pieces (e.g. the 15 minute task). Promising yourself a reward is good. I often start with a nice strong cup of tea and take it into the room and just get cracking. I have a massive pile of clothes and accessories to sort out now that we finally have our new built-in wardrobes installed. I just keep reminding myself how nice it will be to go to the wardrobe and see everything at a glance and not have to wade through piles of 'doesn't fit right' or 'colour doesn't really suit me' etc.

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  8. Dear Rhonda, I think all 'crafty' people work among a bit of chaos, particularly when there are a few projects on the go at once,however it can take over very quickly and become a hazard to curious little fingers. I do the tidy-up jobs in managable sections, it could be a couple of drawers when dusting, another 15 mins when I put the laundry away. Baskets are great for the current craft projects, they sit nicely on the work space, are easily moved & look so nice. Little steps are always less daunting, Deb M

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  9. I have a door on my craft room and I use it. Everyday it is closed and sometimes locked! It is chaos in there, it has taken over and one of these days I will have to tackle it. Right now, I am just trying to tackle accomplishing or removing one thing a day from that room, whether it be a piece of mending done or the ironing done. It didn't reach chaos overnight!

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  10. Sometimes, in order to make myself complete a task, for example, cleaning a room or folding a load of laundry - I allow myself to sit down to watch a tv show but then when commercials come on, jump up and work for a few minutes. Or, I'll work for 15 - 20 minutes and then do something fun for a few minutes, like read, knit or play on the computer. When my energy is low or the job at hand is just too boring, this is how I get it done !

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  11. Quietly chaotic. I like that description. It descrbes me also. My work space looks very much like yours and every now and then I do get in there and reorganise and straighten up but inevitably it moves back into chaos. But like you said I know where evrything is!

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    Replies
    1. It's good to know I have a partner in crime, Kate. I know if I finish this today, the desk will be a mess by the weekend. :- )

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  12. I know what you mean about needing some of your inspiring "stuff" around you to help with the creativity, I have some of my beautiful things in small shallow baskets and boxes along the back of my work table and tools etc in pottery jars and bowls.
    Getting it cleaned up and organised is done by making a list of all that needs to be done, broken down to managable tasks, prioritise by numbering each task, (don't make the hardest task number 1,do it when you are powering along).
    Cross of EACH task as it is done followed by a treat........no knitting till it's done, or no morning coffee till it's done, or no sitting in the sun, those 3 alone would have me in there on a mission and in a big hurry! then just do whatever you can manage each day.

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  13. I love that Commonsense Cookbook too :) I have had to schedule in a half day over the next few weeks to tackle exactly what you have been talking about today. That very fixed amount of time is my motivator. I am definitely more creative with less mess around. Thanks for you post.

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  14. I'm trying to keep a slim amount of order in two houses currently - and we've just broken the rules by making the bedroom (with the wood fire) the winter bedroom...so all the beds are jammed in there lol I think I am learning that there is a distinct difference between clean and tidy...I like to make sure the house is clean (as in not germy or a health hazard) but it really is only tidy if I have any spare time (as in not lots of stuff about the place).

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  15. I bribe myself with things like "Do X amount, and then its time for a coffee or a tea and some time crocheting/drawing/painting/gardening". The only drawback, if you can call it that, is that I get so into what I'm doing that I forget about my treat until I'm mostly done!

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  16. My dream is to have my own workdesk and shelves and a cutting table. At the moment all my craft stuff and computer is stashed in an old cupboard and l have to haul it out when l need to do sth. Usually work at the kitchen table, but having to clear everything up for every meal (we don't have a seperate dining room table only a very big kitchen table) makes it a stressful business. I am a very tidy person as far as the house goes, but quiet chaos (as you called it) sneaks into my own stuff. When clearing up and sorting out l generally haul all the stuff out and spread it about eg. on the bed. That way l have no choice but to finish the tidy up (unless l want to spend the night on the sofa...which l don't). Love your gorgeous green view by the way! Pam

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  17. I like to see things, my fabric and wool stashes, so I opshopped some open storage solutions, fabric folded on open shelves,wool in baskets on shelves, clear work table, but everything visible around it...so long as I have a place for everything, that I can see, it's easy to maintain. I am a bit OCD though, and everything is shamefully colour coordinated! That's not to say I don't leave a trail of baskets of half completed projects and scraps of wool lying around.....
    Gayna

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  18. Make a list of everything that needs to be done. Sub divide things like clear the desk into smaller tasks .Make a new complete list in order that if you gave it to your sister she could start on it. Nominate a time of day like 9am and everyday at that time and with timer in hand START. No more procrastination .Cross off tasks as you do them.
    Now with such good advice I am off to pour another cup of tea and make my own lists.

    Chris @ Coffs Harbour

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  19. You have inspired me ....... to tell my dear OH I'm "quietly chaotic". He never complains, bless him, but he is so ordered and neat & every time he walks into the spare/craft/office room I'm sure his heart must fall into his boots. I agree being creative is easier when things are organised - and I do have clear ups now & again - but it never lasts. But at least regular clear ups mean you can find the things you bought or collected, even if you can't remember quite what you were going to use them for !!! Happy days xx

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  20. I find there is usually one thing that triggers a "clear up", and from that the rest will follow. In your case it sounds like you want to make your room "safe" for the grandkids, so concentrate on finding and putting those things away eg sewing pins - that's your task. If you do nothing else at least your main goal is achieved. However you will probably organise alot of other things as well, but that will be a bonus. Merryl (a fellow quietly chaotic person)

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  21. I am naturally creative and disorganised and come from a long line of hoarders. However I married a man who finds that difficult to live with chaos and I have been working REALLY hard for the last 8 years or so at changing my natural tendencies. For me personally, the only way I can have any discipline is to surrender my desires (to cook, to craft, to read, etc) completely to God and ask for Him to order my day. Whenever I do that, my days just flow, with everything getting done with a minimum fuss and a maximum pleasure. When I get stuck in the lists and planning without divine inspiration...minimum results, maximum guilt.

    I also love the William Morris quote:
    "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful,
    Or believe to be beautiful."

    Love, Kirsty x

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  22. My sewing room looks like yours! Plastic storage containers, yarn, notebooks...I try to deal with it but I keep finding interesting things that distract me....just trying to put like with like, finish UFO's, and keep working on projects!

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  23. Rhonda,

    It is so nice to know there is another collector of notebooks! They are a definite weakness of mine. I can't walk by that aisle in a store without taking a peek.

    Carol
    Massachusetts

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  24. Hi Rhonda, my first approach nearly always is procrastination - a skill I honed many years ago and continue to work on with great enthusiasm... Ahem. I'm trying to practice limiting my procrastination at the moment so I have more control over my life and it has less!! So..., I'm attempting to follow the fly lady mantra of 15 minutes at a time, which at least gets me started. If I have the motivation I set my timer for another 15 minutes after the first lot has run out, but limit myself to a maximum of 45 mins at any one time (I rarely go that long!). I still have an awful lot of things to do, especially as we're expecting baby #3 in less than 8 weeks (bedding, clothes, wraps... They're all here somewhere, just got to find them and make sure they're clean), but one step at a time. It will happen, surely?!

    I like to think that I'm quietly organized amidst the chaos, but as I share most of my space with others, things get moved and I lose track of them due to the piles I use as my filing system. At least I've decided at change is worth attempting, even if it's really slow? Argh.

    Enjoy the reorganizing :-)

    Anna

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  25. I put on an audiobook in my ipod and then I can work away without feeling like I'm doing a 'chore' because I'm doing something that I really love at the same time - 'reading' a book. Even better - I plug the ipod into my dock which is plugged in a socket in the room I need to be working in and then I can't leave without missing out some of the story ;)

    Maybe you need a few more shelves right above your desk where you can see everything that you're working on and that inspires you and it's all high enough to be safe and then you still have a clear space to work on on your desk?

    Good luck (and I love your phrase 'quietly chaotic'!

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  26. I did just what you are doing last year, my plan was to remove everything from the room. I bought some new shelves then spent a couple of days going through everything before returning what I needed to the new shelves, and yes, more than I initially planned did return. I have been slowly going through my house and selling or giving a few things to my children. I down sized house but unfortunately a lot of what I had came with me. Sometimes it is hard to let go of things.

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  27. I talk to my best friend on the phone while I tackle the chore. OR, I schedule it for a certain day and time so I can gear myself up mentally, and then when it's over, I reward myself.

    Good luck tidying up! It feels so nice when it's done!

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  28. I have just done that, decluttered one room , then, made my garage the guest/sewing room, so now the sewing machine is always ready to sew, such a pain setting it up on the kitchen table then putting away again, happy now:)
    Esther

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  29. I take everything out of that room and put it on the kitchen table and the floor outside the room being sorted. Then I go through and put it all back - this sorts out the rubbish and what I want and do not want. It gives me space in the room to sort out and put away in a way that is going to work and be functional and the main thing is I HAVE TO CLEAN up the mess I have made....

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  30. I try and do the worst most boring thing first. It's hard as I would like to do all the little quick jobs first so it takes self control to get it done. I am quite organised and like order and minimal amounts of stuff. I go by the rule, only pick something up once.

    I'm loving your book and now have a set morning routine which includes getting the house sorted for the day. By doing this I have no excuse but to tackle the thing I don't want to!

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  31. I add those tasks to my weekly task list. Wednesday is tidy the desk day. I make it a part of all the other tasks I plan out over the week (washing, ironing, vacuuming, etc.).

    My grandmother, on the other hand, had a different tactic. Her way of 'managing' it was to buy a colorful top sheet and cover it all up when company came. Even the toddlers didn't have the inclination to peek under the sheet. HA

    Jlynn

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  32. I am also quietly chaotic. We have a small house - about 750 square feet with two bedrooms, a large bathroom, and a tiny little kitchen - and with DH and I plus a dog and two cats, it often looks like a whirlwind has come through. I'm the kind of person who somehow can't have bare horizontal surfaces; they just fill up with stuff somehow! But I also always know where everything is. As soon as I tidy up, I can't find anything! It drives poor DH crazy, and the cats are forever knocking stuff over.

    When I just HAVE to finish a dreaded task, I put on music with a good beat. If I'm singing along to my current favourite songs, I don't mind the cleaning as much. I also don't connect to the internet (we have crappy internet, so we have to connect each time we want to use it instead of leaving it constantly available like we could with town internet) - it is very easy to get distracted once I connect! And I find it works best if I set aside a whole day to clean the house; that way I don't get interrupted halfway through.

    Best,
    Mandi

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  33. You've inspired me to tidy my desk as it's looking chaotic too! I usually just tell myself that nothing else gets done today until this job is done, the hard part is always getting started :)

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  34. Unfortunately, the tactic that I use is more procrastination! Though, I'm working on it! I have a habit of getting easily distracted, so while I have good intentions of cleaning up my office/computer room/ craft room, if I start too big (ie--cleaning the whole room), I won't get anywhere. I have to start with a tiny corner of the table, and tidy up just that. Next time, maybe the bookshelf.
    Small increments add up to tidier spaces, slowly but surely.
    :o)

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  35. Hi, Rhonda!
    You put a huge smile on my face today!
    It's so funny how people from different parts of the world, different cultures, different stages in life etc. , can be so alike.
    I'm so comfy in my "desk chaos" and when I clean up, usually once a week, it takes me a few days to adjust to the new order. By the time I should be "adjusted", the chaos is back.
    I'm also a notebook person, but I only have three notebooks going on and you seem to have around seven :)
    I noticed that when I have to do something not very appealing, the start is difficult, so I just take an item from my desk (for example) before breakfast and put it somewhere in my way, (like on the kitchen counter), than after finishing in the kitchen, I just have to take the object back where it belongs, so if I'm there why not do the job. This is my way of getting things done.
    It works for me, maybe it could work for you , too!

    Best regards,
    Diana

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    1. Hi Diana, yes, I have seven notebooks on the go at the moment. I use one for each project I'm working on. If I don't do that, my notes for each project get lost. I like your way of starting. It's so crazy it might just work for me. Thanks for sharing. :- )

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  36. love the notebook pile ~ feel better about my little hoard

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