When Distractions are Driving You Crazy!
At the beginning of last week, I came to the realization that my house was a disgusting mess! One of the less exciting side effects of throwing yourself fully into your work as a writer—a messy house—and it was really getting to me. It was getting to the point where my environment was effecting the edits of my current manuscript.
All the mess was making the inside of my head messy.
No, I don’t believe it was a diversion or procrastination. As I’ve said before, I’m all or nothing and I have to take these breaks sometimes to keep myself in balance and stop our family from getting nasty diseases. 🙂 So I downed tools on Wednesday and got to work. Besides, everything was beginning to ache from pouring over my keyboard every day. I desperately needed a break. So I donned my lovely cleaning outfit, pulled my hair up into a ponytail and got to work scraping the grunge from our life—a nice clean slate as it were…
…Did it work?
I decluttered 15 years ago for the very first time. It was one of the most revolutionary and refreshing things I’ve ever done. I know crazy right, how can putting your house in order make you feel so good? But it did. I laughed manically as I dropped trash bags full of the past from an upper window. My first born, then aged one, giggled and laughed as mommy was having some kind of weird mental, but liberating, breakdown.
You see, I was freeing myself from the past—from the grunge of my life. That stuff that had clung to me for decades. I was carrying the past with me and into the future and even allowing it to define who I was as a person. At first I was terrified to part with some of it. Feeling that the stuff I had surrounded myself with was somehow part of me and that if I let it go, I wouldn’t know who I was anymore. So I clung to it for years, creating some kind of pack-rat mentality. It made me think of those little decorator crabs that carry camouflage around on their backs that they pick up from their environment. I felt camouflaged, and I didn’t know who I was anymore.
Then one day I snapped. I had had enough. My environment felt oppressive and I felt constricted, imprisoned in a cell of my own making. The weight of all my unfinished projects and college classes that I had tanked at pressed against me reminding me, that I sucked. And that I would probably fail at the next thing I tried. I needed a revolution and a really large dumpster to get a new life.
I needed a really big dumpster
In the space of a couple of days, I had eleven trash bags ready to go to the dump. Yes, I only had one child then, if I were to do the same exercise now with five kids I’d probably have one hundred and eleven bags. But for me at that time, it was a huge deal. I found out I was hanging onto stuff from when I was ten and it was time to let it go. I started to open up the windows of my house, one by one, as I gave each room a good clean. I admired all the new open spaces. I walked down to the front door and opened it. A wind swept past me and through my house—it felt like the winds of change were sweeping through my life. It was awesome and amazing, and the beginning of a revolutionary journey that turned my life around. It marked a brand new period in my life. Where I redefined myself as a person and decided who I wanted to be without the past clinging to me, trying to remind me of who I thought I was. It opened up the space for me to become something new. I highly recommend it.
This time around
Now I’m not where I was then. I’m no longer buried under the past. Every couple of years I have a good purge, I think it’s good for the soul. I’m not even in a place where I need to do a good purge, because I did a decent one last year. But it was just time for a tuneup, some tweaking, and some cleaning. Sometimes I just have to get my house in order to feel those free spaces opening up on the inside again so that I can fill them with something new.
“But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” ~ Marie Kondō
So for three days this week I did nothing but tidy, scrub, and mop. It was very liberating. I know kind of weird, but I feel refreshed and renewed and ready to take on the world again.
Sometimes you just need to get your house in order.
This week I needed to take the time to clean out the crud so that it would stop creeping in the cracks of my writing and distracting me. But I had to do it fast, like ripping off a band aid. After all, I have a book to finish, and I’m determined to complete it this week.
A side note on items you cherish:
I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō last year; she suggests when decluttering that you hold each item in your hands and ask, does it bring me joy? If your body responds with a yes, you keep it! I’m a sentimental person, so I’m surrounded by the things I love. I also love collecting knickknacks. This is not about living in a clinical bubble, but about surrounding yourself with the things that bring you pleasure. I thought her method was a great take on this age old method of decluttering so that you don’t throw away any of your beloved treasures.
What are your thoughts?
I’d love to know what you think! Have you ever had a major declutter and what were the effects? Did you feel a newness in your life, or were there regrets about treasured possessions being lost? What has been your experience when distractions start taking over your brain?
Please share your comments in the comment box below, along with any other ideas you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!
Are distractions driving you crazy?
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I’m a clutter bug – I admit it. I love a mess. The messier the better. I usually know where everything I want to find is hiding in the mess around me. HOWEVER, I will, from time-to-time, declutter my immediate work environment – but I’m not sure why or what motivates me to it when I do. Looking around me right now my work area might be the worst it has ever been – but probably not – close. I do hang on to thing way too long. I know it. So you have given me an idea. I think, not guaranteeing, that I’ll try and declutter my bookshelf in my office. It has at least one shelf I already know the s*^t on it can be tossed – but god forbid I toss that s*^t today – oh, no. Not going to happen. Just sayin’. I won’t even discuss with you the rest of my house (closets, kitchen, etc.). [I just wrote and deleted something I couldn’t believe I was willing to tell anyone – no, maybe I should delete this reply comment….] Okay, hitting”post” to get this clutter out of my Safari.
Haha, James, that’s too funny. You can always send me an email through my contact page if you want to share your dirty little clutter secret with me. I promise to tell no-one!
I wonder if we writers are naturally clutter bugs, being engrossed in our work, naturally surrounding ourselves with treasures or other stuff 😉
I love your comment and your honesty! Thanks for sharing!
I cannot STAND clutter. It literally wears me down and makes me feel like I’m smothered. I go through and throwaway, recycle, giveaway, or donate on a monthly basis. It keeps me sane. When I know there’s a place for everything, I feel like I am justified in having whatever it is. When I can’t find a place for something… that sends me a message. Piles and drawers full of stuff don’t work for me (though my house does have a few). When I go through and declutter, purge, or otherwise improve my living and working spaces, I feel like space is freed up in my mind.
I do have a hard time getting rid of homeschool projects, but I’ve started taking pictures and getting rid of papers. That being said, I’ve had a busy few months to say the least and this weekend I caught up on housework. The main part of house was fine, but my closet, the laundry room, my office… Eeekk!!! It felt so good to throw stuff away and eliminate the mess. Well, most of it. My office is still a wreck, but I blame my husband. He brought in boxes of whatnot from his father’s estate months ago and they’re still there. I’ve been trying to give him time, but I may need move them to a different location so I vacuum the floor!
My biggest weakness is books… I don’t feel like they are clutter, but they can certainly pile up! I would love to figure out a better organization system. I’ve gone through several – none last. At least they’re all on shelves.
We’re moving from MD to CA in a few months, so I figure I’ll start fresh with organizing. We’re going from our very large house with a basement to one a third of the size with no basement. =0 I’ll have to really purge before the move!
Thanks for a fun post!
I’m so glad you enjoyed the post Kat! I know what you mean about clutter wearing you down. It’s amazing what can happen in your life when you can clear out some space, like you said, “I feel like space is freed up in my mind”.
There’s nothing like a move to start fresh. When I first moved to American I had only a few suitcases. One of them filled with books, if you can imagine! I had to sell everything including my house! That definitely made me take a hard look at everyone of my possessions and decide how much I needed them!
Thanks so much for commenting and sharing!
My husband grew up poor with no father. He saves everything boxes, plastic spoons forks and knives that come with takeout that we never use. When we moved recently he had a huge drawer of them and I threw them out when he wasn’t looking he saves free address labels, free note pads that come from charities. He saves empty butter dishes and bread ties I could go on and on when we moved he almost went crazy trying to clean out his garage I used to save craft magazines I finally threw them all out as I realized I had years of them I try to have a good clean out once a month but I don’t touch my husbands stuff
Wow Candace, now that is definitely saving everything! I can’t even imagine! It sounds like you’re doing a great job of resisting throwing out your husband’s stuff. I think I would go crazy! It’s interesting that you relate it back to him growing up poor and without a father. I wonder how much of our upbringing effects the environments we live in now.
Thanks so much for commenting and for sharing your thoughts!
I’ve had the experience of getting rid of something and a month later needing it! Oh, well. The advice about throwing out what doesn’t give you joy is good. I’ll try it. You aren’t crazy for feeling good after putting your house in order, or if you are, that makes two of us. When I attack the dirt and dust lurking in every corner and banish it, I can actually feel the freedom in my pores. Maybe it’s the chi energy being restored, but it seems real.
I know what you mean Marie, I feel so much freedom when I clean the house, it’s almost addictive—almost! Unfortunately I have so much I want to get done in life that keeping the house straight sometimes slips. That’s why I have to attack it with such vigor!
Thank you so much for sharing and for sharing your thoughts!
Let me first say that it becomes a *serious* project when I get down to actually declutterig which the OCD part of my brain LOVES to do. I love organizing, sorting, and best of all, paring down of things I don’t use, need, or want anymore; or better, something someone else could use. It does my soul good when my place is put together, nice and tidy after a purge, ah a lovely, if fleeting, feeling. I try to do some ones here and there since they don’t take *as* much out of me. Purges often happen around the time when I move too, and that’s been far too many times…*sigh*, eventually I’ll move to my actual home and only have to purge to keep me evolving.
Thanks for this post, SK.
I wonder if all writers are a little bit OCD? I too love to sort and organize. I have a collection of colored pens on my desk that I like to have pointing all in the same direction with their clips all facing the right way. Shhhh … don’t tell anyone! And, don’t getting me started on moving. A few years ago we moved five time in two years, it was insane! But, like you said, it definitely helps with those purges!
Thanks so much for commenting, DMG, I always appreciate you stopping by!
Thanks for the reminder about cleaning. I can’t think clearly if I am surrounded by clutter. Though sometimes I think I clean to avoid writing or whatever that I have to do. But the cleaning puts so much burden because whatever I have to do hangs over my head after cleaning. I wish there was a way to not procrastinate. Great post.
Yes, procrastination can be a big problem. I think it’s easy to know when something is a procrastination tactic, because we know deep down we’re just avoiding the task we really don’t want to do, or, maybe we think it’s just too difficult!
On the other hand I think it would be great to strike a balance between all our responsibilities in life, though I’m not sure that is possible. Something has to be sacrificed. So for me I just pick what I deem most important and focus on that!
Thank you so much for sharing!