At the first of each year I jot reminders for periodic tasks that need to be done. One of them is to clean my working spaces. This is necessary because various books and objects from past and future small projects tend to remain on my desk and elsewhere in the den. They are evidence of my packrat habits.
As I clear off the desk, I sort items into a few piles: 1. Donate to charity. 2. Return to the toolbox and storage areas. 3. Offer to a friend. 4. Must remain on the desk. After polishing the desk surface, I place and arrange the items from pile number 4. Any tools go into the toolbox. Then the remainder go into the giveaway and donation boxes. If friends decline their offerings, those items are later placed into the donation box. After the sorting and cleanup are finished, I admire the results.
Eventually, artifacts gradually accumulate again, then the cleanup process begins anew. The notations in my dayplanner tell me when it’s time to do this; otherwise I’d procrastinate.
While cleaning the rest of the den yesterday, the mind drifted into philosophising about the work area. The room is an ecosystem that is a subset of the larger ecosystem of the house. In turn, the house is a piece of the larger ecosystem of the planet. The ecosystems support life as we know it. The ecosystem that includes the den and the desk support the creative aspects of my life. It’s amusing that philosophising in this manner motivates me to complete the task.
I’ve experimented with radical minimalism several times, throughout the years. I concluded such a lifestyle is incompatible with my mindset. On the other hand, my brother was a hoarder–a destructive lifestyle for sure. I try to err on the side of minimalism when organizing my living and working spaces.
I purposely chose to live in a small house so as to help resist the temptation to store lots of stuff because of my family’s history of accumulating objects. The basement is clear and safe with two short rows of plastic storage “totes”. The garage contains only a lawnmower, a snowblower, two ladders, a mechanic’s toolbox, and the car. I’ve never considered using the garage as a storage unit.
Of course this is only what works for me. My friends have different techniques to keep their spaces compatible with their needs and comfort levels. These run the gamut from cluttered to successful minimalism. Two friends use the calendar reminder method similar to mine. In any case, we all need to clean our spaces from time to time.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes retired NASA astronaut, Robert Crippen. “Living inside the shuttle was a little like camping out. We ended up sleeping in our seats. You had to pay attention to housekeeping, not get things too dirty.”