After three long, hard days of intense work, I thought the hardest part of clearing my study out was done. I was wrong.
It turns out, shifting ten ton of boxes out, sorting, clearing and finding homes for the stuff I wanted to keep was the easy bit. Even if I did sweat about a bath-full doing it. The tough part came today, as I looked at my desk with two little boxes of stuff to sort and go through, and two bags on the floor beside it, the last things left before I actually finished. So, what did I do?
- I found excuses to do other stuff.
- I got into intense detail as to what bits went where, and took a half hour to sort a bowl of thumbtacks & nalclips out.
- I took breaks that dragged out as I got stuck into books or cooked an entire meal for lunch.
- I started other, new projects that would take me away from it.
- Most of all, I just felt darn uncomfortable. It just dawned on me why.
The Enemy Emerges
My comfort zone recognised I was shifting boundaries. It decided to fight back.
You see, a clean study with a bit of clutter still has room to grow back into a cluttered study. Given the nature of clutter, even a little bit will make it easier to leave something else lying there. Before you know it, your desk is hidden again. I know. I’ve been there before. This time, though, I got to the point of having to clear that last bit of clutter, to change the state of the room from ‘cluttered’ to ‘clear’ – and I’m finding it’s incredibly hard! There’s a lot of resistance to finishing off that last little bit.
I know that it’s to my advantage – after all, once I’ve changed it into that clean study, and turned it into my new comfort zone, it’ll be just as hard to put any clutter back into it. It’s a bit like being the first up to the buffet at a party – there’s a whole lot of inertia to overcome to do it. As I sit here, I have the last little pile (reduced from this morning when I first started at it) still sitting next to me. I’m working up the courage to make that final shift, and realising how many other things have gone this way – resolutions I’ve almost followed through on or odd-jobs I’ve mostly done, but never quite finished off. The ironic thing is that I don’t have this issue working for anyone else – I’ll overdeliver on anything I’m doing under contract, or in a job – but when it’s something just for me, I seem to pull my punches a bit.
An action plan?
I’m wondering if this is something I can train myself to overcome. Starting now, with the last bit of the study. I figure maybe if I build it up slowly – a bit like training muscles – then I can gradually meet bigger and bigger goals. It feels HUGE to be so close to accomplishing this, like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff and scared to step off. I know it’s silly, but even though this is something I’ve wanted for a long time, known I’ve had to do for even longer, and made several previous attempts to achieve, it really is a step into the unknown and that’s ALWAYS scary. I wonder if that’s why quitting smoking/alcohol/chocolate is so hard?
So, this is my first small cliff. I’m about to jump. GERONIMO!!!
Note (2 hrs later): I cleared the last box & 2 bags. It still didn’t feel really finished though. I’ve sorta mashed this project with sorting through all my papers and that had stalled just before the finish too – a huge storage box full of them that’s been gradually growing, shrinking a bit as I attack it, and growing again when I turn the other way. I was using it as a procrastination technique to put off finishing the study so now the two sort of feel like a single project to me. Anyway, having done the last boxes/bags, I got stuck into that as well. I figure while I’m jumping off cliffs, and this one’s so conveniently handy…
The single box of paper you see on the desk there is reduced from an initial pile that covered the couch! So, now all the boxes are done, the papers are getting attacked next, and they’re close enough I’m hoping to finish that off tonight. Like I said, if I can train myself to overcome this habit of pulling up short of the finish line who knows what can happen …
You might see a picture of me in my new, revised, 2009 version study up next! That, or a candid shot of the look of shock on the bf’s face when he sees it tomorrow…