Cleaning Up

It's a dirty job but somebody's got to do it.
In working with ourselves, cleaning up begins by telling the truth. We have to shed any hesitation about being honest with ourselves because it might be unpleasant.  —Chogyam Trungpa
Here's the truth. My studio and kitchen table are littered with loose pieces and stacks of paper from various projects. Everything else seems like it's out of order. What isn't out of order is laced with cat hair. I am not going to discuss my car.

I feel like I don't really have the time to straighten and clean thoroughly. On the other hand, I know that if I don't, the disorder will ferociously nag at me.

Overwhelmed by clutter? Here's my tip. It works like a charm.

Set an egg timer for 15 minutes and take action.

No matter what the task, if I'm feeling overwhelmed or having trouble starting anything, the 15 minute timer trick works for me. 15 minutes is completely doable.

If I take action as soon as I set the timer, by the time 15 minutes are up, I am into the task and hit the timer for another 15 minutes or an hour!  When one hour is up, I'll hit the timer for another hour. I  keep digital timers in several rooms.

I used to clean up after other people for a living.  I've had many jobs that required me to organize other people's stuff.  Up to a certain point, it was interesting because I worked for brilliant people.  I learned a lot going through other people's information. I've always had a knack for systematizing information. It's kind of fun.

When I was 21, I worked at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. I assisted with the concert production and "organized" the owner's office. Bob's office was always in utter disarray. The file cabinet drawers could barely close.  He never cleaned his coffee mug, stirred his coffee with a tuning fork and littered everything with Merit cigarette ashes. Amidst the sliding piles of paper, under sagging shelves of books, was the first personal computer I ever laid eyes on. Bob's theory was that, since the universe is in a state of chaos, attempts at organization are pointless. Nonetheless, that was my job and so I tried. Bob's theory may have served to justify his style but it stuck with me, helped loosen me up and contributed to my humor and delight in the absurd.

It's time for spring cleaning! 
I am very bothered by clutter. I feel so much better when my surroundings are clean and in order that it's really important to me that they are. Right now, I can barely stand to look around.  Last week, I spent three hours looking for my passport. I did not find it. I put it in a very good place but not where it belonged.  Spring cleaning, I thought, is just around the corner.

It's not as bad as it seems.
Really, I do not live in a hell hole.  Things are just extra messy right now.  It's that time of year.  So, tomorrow morning, right after yoga, I am grabbing a box, setting the timer and going at it.
Once I am underway with a cleaning and organizing project, I realize that the tasks are not as daunting as they seemed in advance.  This experience can be applied to most intimidating projects. Once we take action, we think, Well, now, that wasn't so bad.

Sometimes it feels as though I spend half my time making a mess and the other half cleaning up.  Wonderful ideas and results emerge from making messes and from cleaning up.  Tomorrow wonderful results will emerge from cleaning up.  I'll put on good music, inspirational talks and give myself a good pat on the back at the end.

I'll see you on the other side.  Feel free to leave spring cleaning tips and tales in the comments.
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