December 8th – “The work of your hands will take center stage today.”

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A friend lent me her copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, so I spent the last 24 hours using my hands to tidy up my house.

Having a clean and organized environment is super important because it helps me be more productive and calm. When I start a new project, I like to take time to clean and rearrange my space to suit the particularly assignment at hand. Every project deserves its own environment for creativity to flow.

Don’t get me wrong, my work space doesn’t stay cleaned the entire time. In fact, it progressively gets messier as I get into what I’m doing. That’s okay! It’s actually good because it means that I’m really focused and not distracted anymore! Hooray!

I’m starting a new writing project, so it’s the perfect time to put my hands to work by cleaning.

The tip I followed from Kondo’s book was to clean and organize by category, not by room. This makes sense because it’s faster to do one type of chore, rather than switch gears by doing a variety of chores. For example, cleaning the kitchen entails: washing dishes, mopping floor, organizing cupboards, wiping down surfaces, and cleaning the refrigerator. That takes hours and I usually lose steam before I can finish the job! It’s much more efficient to do all the dishes in one shot. That means gathering up all the mugs that I have lying around in my living room, work space, and kitchen. Done!

Cleaning by category is also more pragmatic than cleaning by room. If you have guests coming over, would you prefer to only have your living room cleaned, or all the floors in your house vacuumed? Perhaps you will be more convinced if I give you a more extreme example:

My indoor/outdoor cat, who usually does his business outside, likes to poo in the house when it’s raining. He doesn’t like getting wet in the rain, so he leaves surprises for us all over the house. Would I rather clean my bedroom (where I’ve cleaned up some of the cat poo) and have poo lying around in my living room and kitchen OR clean up all the cat poo from every room? I think you’ll agree that it is way better to NOT have cat poo in ANY room, than have a clean bedroom!

After cleaning up the cat poo, I focused on two things:

  1. Laundry
  2. Papers and Books

Laundry was easy because it’s something that I do every other day. I gathered up clothes from my car, the bedroom, the hallway, living room, and even kitchen.

I did the same with my books and papers. This process was a little harder, but more interesting because I had to go through the items more carefully to see what could be recycled, donated, or re-shelved. It was amazing how many half-filled notebooks, scraps of paper, junk mail, and books I had lying around.

Here are some before and after photos of my entry way:

In my mess, I rediscovered one of my favorite books. A Language Older Than Words is a memoir by Derrick Jensen. It’s amazing how he’s able to weave personal struggles and politics into a story that every day readers can appreciate. I particularly recommend this book if you want to understand the dynamics of violence.

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