Getting Organized


June 4, 2014 by Jean

bedroom declutteringAfter weeks and months spent sorting through all the “stuff” of my Gettysburg life and letting go of most of it, I arrived in Maine to a house that seemed impossibly cluttered and messy. Since I was already in “de-cluttering” mode, I decided to just keep going, transferring my efforts from one house to the next.

As I did in Gettysburg, my plan is to focus on one room at a time, getting it organized and cleaned. I decided to begin in the bedroom because I urgently needed space to unpack the clothes I had moved from Gettysburg. Once again, I am dividing items into four categories: keep, donate, recycle, and trash. I tend to buy (or make) high quality clothes and keep them for a long time, so my closets are full of clothing items that are decades old. Clothes that I haven’t worn (or fit into) for years? Time for them to go! So far, I’ve been through two small chests of drawers and one closet and have begun work on the second closet. Any clothing items that were too worn out to be donated went into a bag for textile recycling. I had several pairs of very nice wool trousers that I hadn’t worn in several years because the lining was ripped and sagging; I carefully cut out the lining, put it in the textile recycling, and put the now-unlined trousers into a bag for donating. After a couple of days of this effort, I was able to make a run to Goodwill with donations and textile recycling. I expect to finish going through the second closet and a dresser today. Once those are done, I will thoroughly clean the room and feel as though one space is organized.

My goal is to finish one room each week. I hope to finish organizing the bedroom today and then move on to the bathroom, which should be quick work. Next week, I will move on to the study. As was true in my Gettysburg townhouse, the study will be a challenge because it is a small room that tends to collect piles of paper and other “stuff” that I can’t figure out what to do with. But it is also a critical room to get in order; this is the room I will need to move into when the construction on my house takes over my living room and bedroom in a few weeks. Once the study is done, I can move on to the kitchen, then the mudroom (another mess magnet!), the living room, and finally the basement.

I am finding that getting the house organized competes with other chores and goals. There are, for example, all the usual early summer garden chores, like getting all the flower beds weeded and mulched and planting annuals. Then there are all the tasks that come with a change of residence, including final utility bills from Pennsylvania, changes to automobile and house insurance, and changing my driver’s license and voter registration to Maine. Then there are major items long planned for this summer: getting the finances organized for my house addition, shopping for a new car and getting a new woodstove installed. Trying to deal with all of these things simultaneously can be overwhelming, and I also want to have some time to relax and enjoy my new life! So I’ve decided that I need to spend at least 2-3 hours a day making progress on any one of these chores (and if I work on two, I can consider that a bonus!). Some choices are obvious – work in the garden on sunny days and work on indoor de-cluttering when it rains. Other priorities will be set by deadlines or the availability of help.

Oh, yes, and I am also making sure that I include time in each day for just relaxing, reading, and savoring the new freedom of retirement.

10 thoughts on “Getting Organized

  1. Once you move on the scale toward minimalist, it is hard to hold on to all the ‘stuff’ that you really don’t need or use. But, I love not having all that stuff to worry about or dust. 🙂 I do a lot of recycling and repurposing but I’m not familiar with textile recycling except for cutting fabric into pieces for crafts or quilts. How do you recycle your textiles?

    • Jean says:

      Judy, Although I wouldn’t describe myself as a minimalist, I’ve never been a big collector of stuff, and I don’t usually have much trouble throwing stuff out. For textile recycling, see the Council for Textile Recycling website. You put in your zip code and it tells you where you can recycle textiles in your area (in northern New England, usually at Goodwill donation centers).

  2. Jean says:

    What a lot of tiny decisions all the de-cluttering would take! It must be driving you batty by now. I’m glad you’re taking time for relaxation each day. Pacing ourselves does help.

    • Jean says:

      Jean, I don’t actually have trouble making these kinds of decisions. If anything, I’m an “if in doubt, throw it out” type of person. So mostly it feels good to see stuff going out the door (two carloads so far to Goodwill) and to feel as though I’m making progress getting my house organized and cleaned.

  3. I had so many plans that were sidelined when the Universe and my body said, “time to heal”. So that is what I am doing now. I expect to clean the clutter and clear out the house in winter as well as a few other projects….it is interesting getting used to this new found freedom. I am now at the point that I have no idea what day it is when I wake and I don’t care…I do check my calendar for appts though.

    You are an inspiration Jean. I need to get a bit more organized again once I can get around more. I did a bit of veg gardening but that was a bit much…we have to plant the final seeds and plants out but I will ask my hubby for more help this time. Too much bending is not good right now…I look forward to seeing how the house and garden are doing!

    • Jean says:

      Donna, My impending construction has provided some urgency to my de-cluttering efforts; otherwise, I might just be lounging on the deck reading novels! I realized today that I wasn’t sure whether it had been 2 weeks or 3 weeks since I drove north from PA. If I were going back to teach in August, I would be counting those weeks and very aware of how much of my precious Maine time I had already used up. It’s wonderful not to feel as though time is such a scarce commodity. I hope your healing is going well; don’t overdo!

  4. Debra says:


    As always, I enjoy reading your garden posts and now I also find myself hoping there’s a new update to your retirement blog.
    It seems like you have tons to do but will handle it, like you handle everything else. By making a plan and getting it done.


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I am Jean Potuchek, a professional sociologist who has just stepped into the next phase of my life, retirement, after more than thirty years of college teaching. This blog is about my experience of that new phase of life.

Please join me as I step into my future.

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