One of the difficulties in decluttering is the question of where to start. A good example is my garage. I have an idea of what I’d like the end to look like. But it involves moving a bunch of items from shelves I want for my food storage, to shelves for personal items, which currently also have some food storage articles. The difficulty in trying to declutter, and organize while shifting around items can make getting started difficult, and keeping momentum even worse. Most of us are all too familiar with the sensation that clean up involves making an even bigger mess at the start. And once you’re in that mess, any motivation you had to keep going can be even more difficult than getting started was in the first place. The garage is a particularly difficult area because it is a place where my projects are worked on. But the garage is only a part of the decluttering story I’m about to tell you.
For a while now I’ve had the sensation that something wasn’t quite right with my cabinet under the kitchen sink. That are has been full, but well organized for a while now. My worry was with the drain itself. I’d been hearing some odd noise when the water ran, but when I glanced underneath, I didn’t see any specific issues. I suspected it might be time to take apart the P-trap for a thorough cleaning. But a few days ago, as I’d finished the dishes, I went to pull out the dish soap for a refill and was hit with a blast of steam from under the sink. Again a quick look didn’t reveal anything, but your cabinets are not supposed to steam, so I started shifting some items. One of the first was a bulk box of trash bags, still unopened…or at least, it had been. When I went to move it the bottom collapsed out. And that was just the beginning. Directly behind that I kept the SOS pads, which were now a puddle of rust and suds. The box of trashbags was like a dam holding back the rush of water, which started to flow out onto my little rug. Frankly, that distressed me much less than the realization that even more had probably run to the back and under the cupboard to the floor underneath. The tile can handle a brief soaking. But the subfloor cannot. The piping to the garbage disposal above the P-trap had come loose, and judging by the rust mess, had done so at least a few weeks earlier. The plastic bottles were find, but there were more than a few cardboard boxes than had not fared as well. And that doesn’t even count the subfloor.
Damage aside, this left me realizing that in the future I don’t want anything obstructing a proper view of my plumbing, no matter how organized the spaces may be. But this left a question of what to do to reduce the items under the sink. In taking everything out I started by separating out items specific to the kitchen from those that I generally use for cleaning. I spoke to my roommate about access to another shelve in the linen closet that she has thoroughly taken over. She was not receptive, which is another issue that needs to be dealt with at some point. But more immediately I didn’t want cleaning supplies lingering on my family room floor. With lead me to another problem space. The cabinet in the laundry room. This space has vexed me since I moved in. There is clearly room for multiple shelves, but it didn’t come with any. I even bought a few, only to discover that they’re slightly too large, and the pins I bought were slightly too small. Still, it should be a small matter to buy the proper pins and trim down the shelves with my wonderful little shop in the garage. My wonderful cluttered shop that I can barely move around in.
Anyone who does even minor woodworking knows it’s important to have a clean space to work in. So here I am, bouncing from the kitchen, to the laundry room, to the garage. This is exactly the sort of thing that derails me badly. It doesn’t help that I’m already discouraged about the original mess and tired from just getting that under control. It was very tempting to do what I often do and try putting it all off until later. But again, the shelves shouldn’t be a large project. So after much pacing and delay, I did that run to the hardware store, and started creating yet another mess while pulling existing items from the laundry room cabinet, and shifting around items in the garage to make a usable space. But here are a few results.
Moral of the story here is that sometimes you have to dive in. If you don’t, the mess will eventually get worse anyway. The mess from decluttering and organizing is discouraging, but man that after picture of the laundry cupboard is a relief. There’s still too much stuff floating around, but at least now it’s more manageable. Baby steps around this place.