Bkbit: Decluttering at the Speed of Life

Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana White appeared last March in my Amazon Prime monthly 'Free Reads' email.  Since I'd made scant progress decluttering, I decided I ought to read it.

Painting by Lori Presuch  Dandilionpress.com

Painting by Lori Preusch • Used by Permission • Prints and Cards available at Dandelionpress.com

I didn't finish the book until August morphed into September. 

The reason this took so long is twofold: 

1. Reading books on my iPad is like reading a book in the middle of a cocktail party. Texts and emails fly in, questions occur to look up. I add ideas to lists, check the definition of a word, look up another book or author mentioned . . .  I might read for five minutes and then find myself doing something else for a half an hour. 

2. After reading a chapter, such as Decluttering the Kitchen, I had the bright idea that I ought to actually declutter-the-kitchen before reading more. It took several weeks of stoppage before I realized this was a BAD idea. In fact, why do you suppose The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up has been on my coffee table for a couple of years — with a bookmark half way through it?

Once I started lurching forward in several week intervals, I noticed that author Dana White was making inroads into my consciousness. “Do the easy stuff first,” she repeated endlessly. "Get rid of obvious trash, put away the things that have a definite home. Donate things you haven’t been using. Start in the most visible areas.”

I discovered that on my way between point A and point B, I was increasingly likely to grab a piece of trash and toss it on route, or snatch up something that belonged where I was going. I was looking around instead of functioning like a horse wearing protective blinders.

A breakthrough came from a line in Dana's blog: “Don’t make a project out of it!” I recognized that I often passed a shelf or a room and knew, with a thud in my stomach, that sorting it out would take several days, maybe even weeks, of focused activity. It was a Huge Project. A project I obviously didn’t have time for. A project I’d probably never have time for.  No wonder I hadn’t been looking around.

I started looking for other easy stuff: I could deal with that one box, that one drawer, empty the overflowing trash bin. The second half of the title, "at the Speed of Life” settled into my heart. I could do this. Keep a donate box at hand, look at a room, declutter for five minutes before or after doing something else. Small improvements became larger improvements. 

Now there are certain places in my house that no longer kick my stomach, that show actual progress, that hold a tantalizing suggestion of some small thing I could do next. There’s joy in that: a warm glow of accomplishment and hope for the future.

Yeah, I can’t exactly pass Decluttering around. That’s another downside of eBooks. The upside is that I don't have to figure out where to put it.

EndQuote: “No person who can read is ever successful at cleaning out an attic.” — Ann Landers