First off, I would like to warn you, do not do a Google search for “I make piles” without some additional term like “organizing” or “cleaning”. Turns out, pile is another name for hemorrhoids. Who knew? But, now we all do.
So, I’ll admit it. I make piles. Everywhere I go. I have piles on my dining room table, piles on my bar area, piles in my garage and piles in my office at work. My husband also makes piles. My daughter is quickly learning to do the same. In some ways, it feels like a little bit of organizing. After all, stuff isn’t spread out all over the place. It is in a nice, neat pile. Well, okay, it is in a pile (not always so nice or neat). But, at least it is in one place. Sometimes I even put my piles in a basket. Doesn’t that look nice? The problem is, the piles seem to multiply. Piles begat piles. I ended up getting rid of our living room coffee table because it was just a magnet for piles. We now have limited space to put our drinks or snacks, as I talked about in this earlier post. But, the question I have to ask is, does that outweigh the fact that I don’t have as many piles in the living room now? It is a difficult question to answer. The problem is that I can’t get rid of every flat surface in our home, so at some point, I have to figure out how to control the piling. Here are my top three ideas for getting out of the piling habit:
- Act immediately and make it quick. We are a family of procrastinators as well as pilers. When asked to do something, we will often say, “I’ll do it in just a second.” or “As soon as I finish this…” The problem is that we often forget by the time we finish what we are doing or get the motivation to actually get up and do the task. I often come in with mail and instead of just going through it right then and there and throwing 90% of it in recycling where it belongs, I will throw it on our dining room table. There it sits. Weeks later, it still sits. And there are a number of piles around it and on top of it. I have paid late fees because of this habit. And it takes only a minute or two to actually go through it and figure out what needs action, what needs recycling. I will also pile dirty dishes in the sink throughout the day. It would take literally seconds to rinse the dish(es) and put it in the dishwasher, but instead, I choose to pile it. At the end of the day, I have a daunting pile of dishes with crusted on food or sticky residue and it takes me a lot longer to get them rinsed and loaded. If I were to just act immediately on something that needs to be done and then make it as quick as I possibly can (avoiding perfectionism, which sometimes gets in my way), I would have things DONE at the end of the day rather than piled up.
- Purge and purge more. We are also a family with a lot of stuff. I wouldn’t go so far as to say we are hoarders, but I have a whole walk-in closet full of scrapbooking stuff, my husband has a garage half full of competitive shooting and fishing supplies, my daughter has the other half of the garage full of books and toys. We have many of those same things in the house. We all have a lot of clothes. I have a lot of pans and dishes and such. I tend to have a lot of papers to grade for my classes (although I’ve tried to go as electronic as I can). We have photos and trinkets and blankets and lots of food stuff. When there is this much stuff, it can seem challenging to find a place for everything and put everything in its place. I realize this. I have been decluttering. But, what I really need to do is purge and purge more. So, what’s the difference between decluttering and purging? Well, to me, decluttering is getting rid of stuff you don’t want anymore. Stuff that isn’t useful or attractive. And trust me, we had a lot of that type of stuff. But, purging means getting rid of stuff even if you still want it, just to lower the volume of stuff that you have floating around your house. That is what I need to do. Because with a family like this, if we have a lot of stuff, we’re going to have a lot of piles. I need to shift my perspective towards purging stuff that is NOT NEEDED. Not just the stuff that is not wanted, but stuff that is not necessary to our day-to-day or month-to-month lives. My daughter learned all about wants and needs in first grade last year and I need to live like a first grader in 2017.
- Embrace space. As a communication professional, I often focus on the value of silence in all its awkward glory. Silence creates space for people to think and sometimes for people to talk who otherwise would not get heard. I need to think of surfaces like silence. It will feel awkward at first. It will draw our eye and we may feel the desire to make a pile since it isn’t being used for other things. But, instead, we need to view it as a space to give us room to think and breathe. We need to view it as a space to let things be noticed that otherwise would be lost in the chaos of piles. A family photo. A meaningful trinket with an important memory tied to it. So much we own does not hold any of that value or meaning. They are taking up valuable space and silencing what is really valuable and meaningful.
So, that’s it. In 2017, I am going to focus on purging. I used to do the Flylady system and some things have stuck with me despite me not really using her program anymore. I still do things in 15 minute increments much of the time. I think I’m going to go back to her 27 fling boogie each day. Purging 27 things each and every day in 2017 would yield 9855 less things in our house. Even if I take a week off here and there it will still make a significant difference in the volume of stuff in my home.
Here is to a 2017 with less piles and more smiles!