* This is the third post in a six part series about how I reclaimed my studio spaces.
* See the second post, "Reclaim Your Space - Enlisting Help".
* See the first post, "Reclaim Your Space - Your Mindset".
Where in the world does one begin when facing this?
The Warehouse Before the Purge
Here is the game I would play with myself: I'd sit in the living room thinking about how great it would be to have the Warehouse (the nickname I give to the second of my studio rooms that is used for storage of various items and completed projects) and how it's not such a big deal. I could clean it up, no problem.
Then I'd walk up the stairs, open the door, look at the mess and flee.
I still find it curious that I was not able to concentrate on working on a small portion of the mess at a time. I mean, as an Artist, I'm obsessed with details. I can hone in on a two inch square and pack two tons of details into it. But ask me to pick one small pile from the giant heap to sort out and my skin would begin to crawl.
This was the first room to be tackled and I will be completely honest, I was skeptical about it getting done. But I decided on very clear parameters before Mary the Wonder Organizer even arrived with her good counsel: I would not spread the mess all over the rest of the house in order to clear the room (it fit in there or it went away), I would not get rid of everything simply to make space and then have to repurchase it later, and there would be nothing sitting on the floor in the middle of the room.
The purge was about getting rid of the things I absolutely did not need anymore and gathering all the stuff I would use into a cohesive manner so that I would stop re-purchasing duplicates and use it up.
Here's what Mary the Wonder Organizer taught me:
1. Start by making storage space. Take one area that can be used as prime storage and clear that out first. I originally thought we'd start with the center of the room but she wanted to start with the bookshelves. (I had and still have a lot of books. In order to make sure that I won't revert back to becoming a library again, I'm going to start purchasing more e-books. I still love actual books but there needs to be much more of a mix.) The need to provide a place for the things that would be kept was key.
2. Sort into larger piles. Take items that are kind of the same (or at least living in the same box/basket/container) and decide what stays and what goes.
3. If you say the words, "I hate this!" and then put in the Keep pile (as I did with a bottle of pink paint), then that's a clear sign that it needs to go away. Give it to someone who will love it. (I will always have Mary the Wonder Organizer's face in my mind if I do this again, her sitting in the middle of my fabric stash, looking over her glasses at me with an amused expression and raised eyebrows. Point taken.)
4. The mess always gets worse before it gets better. (I knew this one but I still struggle to remember it when I'm standing knee deep in safety pins and sharpie markers.)
5. You can't keep everything. You just can't, you are one person and the likelihood of you using it all within your lifetime is slim. Period. Let it go, give it to someone who can't afford to buy it for themselves so they can make art and create beauty in the world too.
I'm not going to say that I excelled at maintaining an optimistic view of the situation. At the end of the first day, I was really struggling to keep positive. I sort of gave up early in the evening. Mary the Wonder Organizer was willing to keep working but I found that I couldn't decide what to do with a bag of styrofoam bird eggs, I kept shuffling it from one container to another. When earlier I had been moving swiftly through the piles, letting things go and planning what to keep but suddenly I hit a mental wall.
In the end, I realized it's because I fell back into my old mindset of, "This will never happen. I'm going to be left with the same mess and what will I do then???" I panicked, plain and simple. Luckily, Mary the Wonder Organizer came back the next day and when I told her I was so worried we wouldn't make it into my studio and that's what I desperately wanted done, we both committed to doing what it took to get it done.
The support was invaluable.
The key lesson learned: There is always an end in sight. If you want to accomplish something, keep going. You have to do the work. Take a break when you need to and then come back when you are able to make choices that support your end goal. Stay strong. :)
In the next post I'll talk about the clear containers that I showed in the first post, why I chose those and how I ended up using them in the re-org.