Tag Archives: Decluttering

Only Child gets her house in order – literally

Some of Only Child's house-cleaning tools.

Some of Only Child’s house-cleaning tools.

Part of my “delete project” includes sprucing up the house as I go along. You can’t just ditch stuff (into recycling or repurposing or the garbage) without cleaning up where they used to be. Or you can take it the other way around and in the process – ditch stuff.

It is also amazing what you will find.

This past weekend I decided I just had to do something about the wooden oak floor in the front hall, living room and my office (formerly the dining room) plus the laminated wooden floor in the kitchen. The former three looked a little scruffy – what you coul see. So I decided to do something my late mother seldom did – move the furniture to clean. (Mother’s idea was to vacuum and dust if company were coming and maybe a few times in between).

No company coming here but after seeing the shiny wooden floors at my cousins when on holidays last month my shabby floors looked terrible. True their wooden floors aren’t oak and are much newer but…

So I pulled out the chesterfield and found two pens, a cat toy, and dirt. So I got to work – removing the items, vacuuming and mopping and then using one of those Swifter-like mops (the ones with the bottle attached to put in water and in my case, Murphy’s Oil) all over the floors in the living room, my office, front hall and kitchen.

What a difference.

And when you physically cleanse something, it also helps cleanse your mind. You feel a combination of relief, satisfaction and “hey, my house now looks good.”

At least it does with me. It also frees me up to do something I have been wanting to do for awhile – another sort of delete.

More on that in another post.


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes


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Filed under Clutter, Home and Garden, Mother, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child clears the clutter

Only Child in part f her office where it is neat and tidy

Only Child in part of her office where it is neat and tidy

One of my friends is on the big paper purge at her place. She is doing it full time. I may get in a few minor sorting jobs – such as old magazines weekday evenings. However, I concentrate on bigger purges in my “spare time” on weekends  when I dig a little more into eliminating the clutter at my place. Weekends before garbage collection, I focus on “garbage,” and weekends before recycling I hit the paper “collection.” The latter and some electronic stuff are the bulk of my physical clutter. The rest have been purged over many years.

A lot of this paper pileup is old journalism stories (notes for published and unpublished story ideas). I don’t need all this anymore, especially as I no longer write feature stories – my writing focus is fiction, memoir, personal essays, and book reviews. Most of the first two is in book form. The other paper clutter is old editing client files. The delay with both (besides my time problems) is for safety and security reasons as you can’t just pitch it all into the recycling bin. So I rip them up – faster than shredding and I can’t afford to have one of those big shredder companies in a big truck come here to do the job.

My criteria for rip and dump is based on my late mother’s when we were downsizing from house to apartment. She tore me away from reading an Agatha Christie mystery novel to downstairs where she had big cartons of paper sitting on the laundry room floor. She pointed to the one with my school stuff and asked, “What do you want to keep here?”

I’ve changed her criteria slightly to “What do I still need here?

When that weekend’s clearing job is done, I look at the de-cluttered areas and feel like a weight has been removed. I’m not fighting files in a drawer (well, that drawer anyway). I have to keep going back to look at the emptiness and cleanliness. I’ve also learned that de-cluttering has another function for me.

Cleaning and de-cluttering even small areas of my place gives me some control. That is especially welcome when I have very little control over all the crap coming at me – house repairs and replacements that I can’t afford – the labour let alone the parts. I’ll be hitting some of the little left in the RRSPs this spring for money to pay for the most urgent repairs and replacements. Then there is my time. With no partner, time and money are barely there some days.

I’m really tired of having to do and organize everything myself (and pay for it too). So, a little bit of clearing the clutter goes a long way to give me back some control of an environment out of control.

The latter also means weather but that’s a topic for another post.

Comments on what clearing your clutter does for you?


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes


Filed under Aloneness, Clutter, Home and Garden, Living alone, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Time management

Only Child clears the clutter from home and office

Only Child by bookcase in her home-based office

My late mother used to let the dust bunnies collect under the fridge, tables and other pieces of furniture.  When company was coming, she’d whisk out the upright vacuum cleaner,  the mop, Pledge, and dust cloth and get to work. Not exactly Good Housekeeping spotless house material. However, she had another setup for clutter. I call it her Organized Clutter System. For example, she filed bills and other business-personal stuff in a draw in her bedroom bureau and her sewing paraphernalia, including the machine, were somewhat organized on the dining room table for easy access for her constant sewing projects. Of course, all that table-top “clutter” had to be moved away when we had company.

I’ve inherited some of her modus operandi here for both my home-based writing and editing business and for the rest of the house,  although I’ve long ago sold my sewing machine at a garage sale. My sewing is limited to mending and hem-shortening by hand – the latter always necessary when you are only 5’1″ even when buying petite. But my basement closets (many built by the previous owners in the laundry room of all places) are cluttered with old photograph albums, some of my son’s stuff and the biggest shelf hogs – outdated computers and printers.) I  do have a weekly housecleaning ritual- very basic to keep the dust bunnies away (well 80 per cent of them) and have clean laundry. But I’m right on Mom’s tracks with my organized clutter. Trouble is, when the drawers get stuck or overflow, something must be done.

I did something about this over the weekend. In the laundry room I sorted/cleared and pitched out some stuff from my large gardening workbench and some of those closet shelves. Most of the electronic stuff is too heavy for me to move (my “invisible, mythical brother” would come in handy here). The City of Toronto now lets you move this stuff to the end of your driveway on garbage day so any I can move I will do – when it isn’t snowing or raining outside. I also phoned a friend and she said she would help me get some of these curmudgeons to the city drop-off depot in the new year. We’ll see how that plays out.

Then I moved upstairs but only managed to find time to clear out one kitchen drawer and file some current papers in my office.  Next weekend it will be my office desk drawers. I’m tired of having them get stuck when I try to open them. (And the “blue air” from my swearing isn’t healthy.) I had already started tackling the files (the hard copy ones) in my office previously – like in the last couple of years, so that progresses – slowly.

All this sorting and purging takes time. I find once I get into it I get interested and can keep going. The key seems to be to do a little at a time. One of my cousins, Anita,  has an interesting practice which she uses to renovate her farmhouse – she calls it picking away at it a bit at a time. Nobody likes to face a huge mass of books, paper, computer equipment, etc. and have to dive in and do it all at once. Following Anita’s modus operandi may be just the way to go.

Then, you have the satisfaction of actually doing something to clear your business and personal clutter. And you know, when you walk into the de-cluttered room, even when it is partially finished, you can feel the energy moving around. The stale block of clutter has disappeared.

And that opens up more energy in you to go about your business – whether it is the self-employed home-based kind or personal sewing projects.


Only Child Writes

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Filed under Clutter, Only child, Organizing home office, Time management