Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What I Learned Wednesday: Sometimes You Just Need to Clean House

Photo courtesy of morgueFile

What I learned this week has nothing to do with research because I didn’t do any research this week.

Only it does have something to do with research.

I have been “cleaning house” - throwing out trash and useless junk, giving away loads of stuff that we don’t need any more, and cleaning up (= rearranging, dusting, sweeping, scrubbing) the rest. From just the few projects and corners that I’ve tackled so far, it feels as though my mind is being reorganized as well.

And it feels good.

Stuff can be such a burden.

Not that all stuff is bad. I still love my books and CDs, for instance - especially when I can find them. Which I can now. The mind shift came in when I realized that I could put most of my CDs in one place: clothes go out of first set of drawers + stuff left from cleanup of second set of drawers goes in the empty spaces = the entire second chest of drawers left empty so that it can be used exclusively for CDs. (I would never have thought of using a chest of drawers to store CDs, but it works.)

And one of the spaces cleared in the CD move was a shelf that I really needed for storing my genealogy stuff. And that freed up floor space (yes, stuff was on the floor), which enabled me to see the bottom shelf, which was full of other genealogy stuff.

So now I can find all of my genealogy stuff.

But the benefits go beyond that: it is as though there is now starting to be more lift and less drag in my life. Less time will need to be spent on moving stuff, cleaning stuff, and putting stuff back. But even more important, some sort of mental fog seems to be lifting.

More time, fewer distractions, less chaos, more focus.

I’m not just cleaning house, I’m cleaning mind.


  1. Great post - so very true!! I know that when I take time to clean up - and actually get rid of things not just move things - I feel almost physically lighter. Sometimes I put off tackling a big project, but as you show, even taking one small step will then lead to other benefits. **Sigh** I just need to do it! Thanks for a great reminder.

  2. Greta! One of the best benefits of "spring" cleaning is that the less stuff laying around the easier is to clean. Hence making much more time for doing genealogy.

    Nice post! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I enjoyed your post! This is what I need to be doing!

  4. So true! I just need to do it.

  5. Your blog post made me, too, laugh out loud! And I loved the photo. But what you have written is so true; cleaning out stuff can be cleansing to the soul. Thanks for the inspiration to clean out some of my own genealogy "stuff."

  6. Me next, me next! Oh ... you aren't availing your services to the rest of us? :)

    I can relate to this in so many ways. I guess it's something that needs to go on my master to-do list. I'm proud (and jealous) of you!

  7. In the last 3-4 months, I have unburdened myself of about 1/2 of my Stuff (always with a capital S) - and ready to downsize even further. Two closets of CDs are being transferred to mp3 so I can say goodbye to those forever. Saving my music in the Cloud from now on. It's an amazing feeling to get rid of Stuff. And once I get started, I cannot stop!

  8. I definitely need to do that around here soon! Hopefully before my cousin visits Labor Day weekend.

    Great work!

  9. Diana - You are very welcome. I don't know what the final thing was that made me start (because like you, I knew that it would make me feel so much better), but now that I have started, most of it is much easier to do.

    Tina - Thank you for your encouragement!

    Karen - Exactly! Knowing that this makes housework simpler is such a great feeling!

    Harriet - You wouldn't believe how bad I let things get before I finally buckled down to work.

    Lisa - I think most of us are in the same boat.

    Janice - Good luck! I think something is in the air - Ruby of the You Go Genealogy Girls seems to be in the same sort of frenzy.

    Jenny - Actually, I'm sure there is a good living to be made out of doing this kind of stuff! (But I'm not enterprising enough to do it!)

    Susan - Now actually getting rid of the physical CDs - that takes guts!

    Kathleen - Good luck on Labor Day weekend! I hope I'll get a lot more done then, too.

  10. Mental fog!! That's what I feel like I am living in these days. It hadn't occurred to me that maybe all this stuff is responsible. Even though we got Mom's house emptied and sold, there is still a lot of "stuff" left to go through and of course, I have been so busy that the usual everyday life "stuff" has been piling up. Time to get busy!

    Your post also reminds me of Elain St. James series of books, the first of which is called "Simplify Your LIfe". After reading it and following through with its suggestions years ago, I can say it did change my life. Maybe it's time to reread that book.

  11. Michele - I was trying to remember the name and author of that book - I may check it out to see if there is something in there to help me! I really do believe that too many things - even if they are hidden away in closets but we know they are in there - add to the "mental fog." I almost posted another What I Learned Wednesday this week on how I am really looking differently at time and space resources. Glad to know others have had these experiences.

  12. I really liked your post and what you're saying!
    I know I have too much stuff when I find something I didn't even know you had!
    That's happened many times!
    So I'm with you, Less stuff = less cleaning = more genealogy research! :-)