When I tell you that I am a born-messy, for whom the years have magnified that trait, it is not with joy. Embarrassment would be more like it. Join me as I step into the confessional.
Faithful readers of this column know that I write often on the power of organization to defeat clutter, which has been proven to be a source of both physical and mental chaos.
First confession: I write about that subject primarily to lecture myself. Writing about it keeps the problem clear, ever-present in my mind. Messies like myself can easily slip into denial. We see the problem, but we can move it out of mental view so easily. That makes procrastination part of the equation. Writing makes me think, and that keeps the problem front and center.
The master bedroom in our home includes a spacious walk-in closet with a door. I tell you this so you will understand how easy it is for me to close the door to make my problems disappear. Can’t see it; for now it doesn’t exist. That lets me slip into denial. I’ll do it later. Next weekend, when I have time to go through things.
Next confession: In this closet, we have a chair where my husband used to sit to put on his socks. Over the years, my problem has escalated to the point the chair and all of the space surrounding it has been become covered, as in “buried” in piles — piles the height of which could be measured in feet, not inches. Clothes. Junk. Horrible. Worse than that. From time to time, I would dig it out, reorganize and promise to do better. But then I’d backslide right into my horrible, old patterns and habits.
Finally, I could not take it any longer. I cleaned the closet. Purged. Did all the things I encourage you to do. But more than that, I gave myself a little talking-to.
My spoiled, bratty child self agreed with my more wise and mature adult self that I would never again drape, lay, hang or pile anything on that chair. Nothing. Not even for a moment. We did a pinky promise, a heartfelt, “I can’t take it any longer” kind of commitment. Beyond that, she and I agreed that I would repeat this mantra to myself whenever tempted: “Do the right thing, do it now.”
As I write, it has been 16 months, 24/7, 485 days. And I have repeated the mantra 365,876 times — at least. From that day to this moment, that chair has had nothing on it, around it or hanging from it. More than that, there has been nothing on the floor. Not even my shoes; not for a moment.
Repeating that mantra has been upgraded a bit. It’s more like, (spoken sweetly) Do the right thing … (then as a drill sergeant) DO IT NOOOOOW!!!!
Yes, I am ecstatic. The change has been epic. The closet — all of it, not only the chair — has remained as organized as it was on that day I completed the makeover and determined that I’d had enough and would change my ways.
You can expect a follow-up column sometime in the future, the title of which shall be: The Kitchen.
Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, ”Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”