Over the weekend we had a family gathering to celebrate the end of summer, the return to school, and my husband’s birthday. One of my nieces shared that her favorite day of the summer is the day she gets new school supplies. Can you still remember the smell of the new crayons when you opened the box?
I’ll admit I love to browse through the office supply store, looking for some new treasure that’s sure to solve my organizational problems and instantly improve my time management issues. Of course, that’s not likely to happen, as it takes more than pretty colored plastic boxes and a new calendar. Before you make the trip to the office supply store, try the following:
1. Clear the clutter. Do you really need that copy of Quilters Newsletter Magazine from 1998? You know, the one with the fabulous quilt you liked back in 1998, the quilt that doesn’t hold the same place in your heart today. A couple of years ago, I went through all the old magazines I was holding onto. I put a note advertising them on the QuiltArt list, and I had a taker rather quickly. I don’t know why I held onto all the magazines for so long. Well, maybe I do. I would feel badly (i.e., guilty) getting rid of them. I held some warped concept of their value. They had really stopped being of value to me long ago and were only collecting dust. They went to a new home where they were valued, and I had several shelves open in my studio.
I could look at my fabric collection the same way. I know we need a “palette” as quilt artists. Do we need that large of a palette? And doesn’t our palette need refreshing every now and then? If you’re like me, you’ll never live long enough to use all the fabric you own. You’ve seen the saying, “The one who dies with the most fabric wins!” I’ve decided I don’t need to be in the competition. I regularly donate fabric for charity quilts and recently made a donation of fabric for my guild’s annual show. I think some month, I’ll just show up with a fat quarter or two for everyone who comes to the monthly meeting.
I know it’s hard to get rid of “stuff,” and it can be overwhelming to do it all at once. If you can’t set aside a full day, block several hours in consecutive days just to clear out what you don’t want. Sort it into two piles – items to donate and items to trash. I know many people say add a third pile for stuff that needs to be fixed. I used to go by that theory, until I realized I didn’t want to fix the stuff.
2. Keep clearing the clutter. You made great progress getting rid of stuff, and your studio is now clutter free. However, the magazines will again stack up and the fabric will again overflow. Part of the solution here is to decide what you allow to come into your space. The other is to maintain a system to keep up with the clutter. The easiest way to do that is to set aside a certain amount of time each week or month to de-clutter.
One of the theories behind clearing the clutter is that clutter is energy draining. I can see that. When my space is clean, my mind is clearer, and I work better. You’ve heard the saying, “less is more.” Well, this is a good example. Once you operate in a cleaner, clutter-free environment, watch what new opportunities arrive or how your creativity expands.
3. Look at how you use your space. Do you need something to hold your papers or tools? Maybe you uncovered something during your de-cluttering phase. And if not, head off to the office supply shop and enjoy picking out the supplies you need, knowing they will be put to good use and not just add to the clutter.
And, as you think about adding to your space, remember this wonderful quote from designer and craftsman William Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
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