I’m a speech language pathologist working from home, and my bookshelf exploded last week! It was a long time coming, but when you hang on to things like a packrat, your thinking sometimes gets in the way of real organization and true joy. I’m speaking of the joy you get from having a few treasured possessions surrounding you in an organized and accessible fashion. The joy you get from being minimal.
I left a job in early intervention 3 year ago. I loved the little ones. I loved being a part of their early lives, and felt I was making a difference for these children, and their families. But when I got laid off, I brought home ALL my toys, games and materials from working with these little ones. It was boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff. As I marched back into the job market, I thought “These things are important and I will use them again”, so I didn’t discard anything. I’ve had some interesting jobs in the last three years, but none of them were in early intervention. This was the start of my “pile up”.
My paper items piled up too. My bookshelf quickly filled with files and notebooks of therapy activities. Music CDs, games, art supplies, toys, and tons of BOOKS! Conference materials, oral-motor tools, posters, ESL games. Suddenly all of what was at the office was now in my home.
And this week, I had had enough! I started to PURGE!
Tons of papers went into recycling. I kept articles and magazines, because I hoped to read them, but they went unopened into the yellow bin. I was holding on to read them SOMEDAY. When will that be? Books went to the box for the library book sale (benefits friends of the library). Some toys went to the box for Goodwill (although I kept my favorites). Persian flashcards I made for a 2-year-old went into the trash. (When will I use those again?) Same thing for K and G flashcards and tons of other things I used once. Why did I hang on to these for years? New materials are always being created, and at the click of a mouse, I can find fresh and interesting activities on the internet for every target sound, and every therapy activity. Multiple copies of ESL lessons went into my bag to go to school on Wednesday. I’ll offer these to my students, and if they don’t want them, I can always recycle the paper for printing.
I’m chuckling at the items I threw away! I found yellowed dot-matrix printer paper. You know, the connected paper with the holes in the sides. This is what we used 25 years ago when printing! It must have been left over from my grad school days! I threw away broken jewel cases, CDs (after converting them and putting them on my iTunes). I threw away contracts and office policy books for companies I no longer work for. I threw away dried-out play-doh, tattered coloring books, and school papers from my children, who are now young adults. Here’s my advice – don’t mix family things in with work stuff, and by all means, save a few school papers, but toss the rest! I took most of my family things and moved them to another room. I wanted to make this office “work only”. Ugly boxes got covered with pretty papers. Items got separated. I grouped things by topic – autism/social skills, language, ESL, accent modification, myofunctional, etc. The results were truly beautiful!
Now I’m NOT writing to teach you about decluttering or organizing, There are tons of sites that you can read. I recommend the following:
31 Days to Declutter Your Home – Rules for Decluttering
Peter Walsh’s Books/DVD/App on Organizing
Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist
But let me say a word about minimizing – Today I am breathing a sigh of relief because I minimized the items on my bookshelf.
By minimizing STUFF, I maximized SPACE.
By minimizing TASKS (reading, etc.), I maximized TIME.
By minimizing STRESS, I maximized PEACE.
Looking around at the clutter-free zone I created, I have true joy today. I want to have a life where I am maximizing peace, beauty, joy and passion!