Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Clean Sweep, volume 1

The annual "clean my classroom over the summer" has taken on a new look this year.  Sweetie talked me into letting her help.  She is an expert organizer, and very tender with the easily-bruised feelings that come up when letting go of clutter.

I was very resistant to having help with this project.  I finally had to get out my journal and ask myself what was so scary about enlisting a helper.  A couple things came up:
  • It's my mess, my doing, and should thus be my responsibility.
  • Accepting help means I am a failure at organizing.  (Just to be clear: NOT TRUE)
  • I can pretend the mess is not really as bad as it is, as long as no one else sees it.

Well, a therapeutic hour of journal time later, and I was ready to tackle the mess.  With help.

My mess.
First order of business: empty everything out.  Really??  Everything?!?  Talk about resistance.  "I just cleaned that cupboard out last summer, it's not a priority."  "This drawer is working for me, why do I need to empty it out?"

Just like on the tv show Clean Sweep, we spent time taking everything out.  I always wondered how long that process takes (on tv, it is a brief montage, usually with catchy music playing).  Well, for this room: 1 hour.

The key to this process taking only an hour was to not try and do any sorting, or make any decisions about what to keep or what to toss.  Also, I had to keep the judgments at bay, or I would have been an emotional wreck from continually beating myself up for letting the space get so cluttered.

I was reminded by my darling Sweetie that 90% of everyone has some form of mess like this, somewhere in their life.  I am not alone.  And in fact, by confronting my mess head-on and without fear, I am actually going to make things better.  Not just a little bit.  A LOT.

After the haul-out, we spent some time looking for "low-hanging fruit" -- items that are easy to categorize as keep or toss.  Not as easy as I would have hoped, and I quickly became frustrated.

I have been listening to an audio course: Get Organized the Clear & Simple Way by Marla Dee.  She breaks the "do it" phase of organizing  (after "see it" and "map it" have been accomplished) into steps, starting with SORT. 

So that's what I have been doing the past couple days, working on my own without assistance:  SORT. 

Just sort things into like categories, with bold labels on each category.  Don't make decisions about keep or toss (that's why I can be trusted to do this step on my own), just sort. 

Today's success: in just over an hour, I was able to sort my way through this entire stack of papers.  (And believe me, at least 50% of the stacks of papers in my room are mish-mash miscellaneous, in desperate need of sorting.)

There you have it: on my way to a cleaner classroom.  And I'm pretty sure that this year, it's gonna get WAAAAY cleaner than it ever has been before.

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