Some of the Mayfield Library staff started the process of decluttering last week. This did not go as I had hoped, since it seemed at first that each person emptied a cubicle by putting in someone else’s cubicle. But then last Friday, a miracle happened: Charles started working on the carts of papers and books that have accumulated outside his cubicle now for more than a year.
It was something we never expected to see; it was a momentous moment.
Now for those of you who are decluttering with us, here are some basic tips on the cleaning out process from the experts:
- You may have to divide and conquer. People often feel overwhelmed with all that needs to be done and give up in frustration. You may not be able to get a house or a room or even a portion of a room done at one go, so focus on one small area.
- Have your supplies ready so you don’t have to go all over the place looking for things or simply end up moving one pile of junk to another spot. Have a box or garbage bag for things that need to be thrown out and another for things to be given away or sold. Perhaps there should be another one for things that need to be fixed or repaired.
- Be ruthless. You don’t have to keep every document you ever received. If you haven’t worn something in a year or two, are you really going to wear it? A year or so back, I realized that I still had lessons/handouts for remedial courses I’d taught as well as my promotion notebook. Although reluctantly, I recycled them. After all, even if I returned to the classroom, I’d be using different texts and probably different methods now. And since I’m a full professor, I won’t need the notebook, and even I go to another college, the procedure will probably be quite different.
- Set a time limit. People start out strong but get tired after a while. It’s at that point of mental fatigue, when you see how much more you have to go, that you’re likely to start making excuses for keeping things or not organizing things as you go. It’s better to stop and start again another day.