Confessions of a Packrat: My Organized Life

Magenta Mushrooms

I wanted to write this post old fashioned style first so that I could lay it out in a logical way. I wanted it to make sense and not dissolve into an rambling mess of words and half described images. But I can’t (ironically) find my notebook of blog post ideas and drafts.

I stand in the doorway to my dining room-turned-office. Most of the time I just throw the bill stubs and EOBs on the desk or other flat surface (aka a plastic tote holding more keepsakes) I turn out the light and quickly walk away, listening and slightly wincing at the soft cascade of paper that was the proverbial last straw to that stack.

My office it that room. The Room of Requirement. Only mine doesn’t disappear when company comes. And most of what is hidden inside will never be required again. Ever.

When I stand in the center of the room, the midpoint in the trail from the door to the desk, I can hear the ghosts of the past echo. Two actually, in a patronizing tone after I had been talking about making/maintaining a daily schedule for my kids. “Wow!”, they both said, “you must be really organized.” Their words sound patronizing to me. From my perspective they had never been to my home and seen mounds of laundry of all the kinds, clean and dirty, in baskets and on the couch, folded and crumpled. They hadn’t heard the soft whisper of falling paper from my office. They didn’t know about the sink and the dishwasher and the floors.

The truth is that in some areas, I can be very organized: Legal paperwork, recordkeeping and the like. I don’t miss regulatory deadlines, only library due dates and the occasional bill. I’ve learned those skills out of necessity of performing job duties and a little bit thanks to Abby on NCIS. She inspired me to make a manual for duties at one place I work. When I left I didn’t even really have to train the guy that replaced me. It was pretty cool. I’m sure nobody remembers it, but at least it’s a moment where I mentally shine my fingernails.

But no amount of self-loathing has allowed me to parent out of myself the overwhelming stacks of “important” papers that come with running a household. And then there are the school projects and coloring sheets and work that show my beautiful babies’ progress through the years. When I look through (and I do every few years) I get to relive the moments that so rushed by me, the ones I missed because I was stressed, working on school work, working 55 hours a week,  or forgot because I was just surviving. I think about how many moments I’ve forgotten and keeping those relatively few papers gives me the feeling of control over the time that’s rushing past me so quickly that I haven’t even had time to savor it. Living in the present is a very difficult thing to do, as it happens in several places at once and I can only be the one. in The End-All Guide to Getting Out From Under Your Office Crap, Jason Fitzpatrick writes that hanging on to stuff, for some of us, is fear of scarcity. I can say beyond a doubt that the majority of my sentimental attachments are due to the overwhelming realization that time really is scarce and will be increasingly more so as I get older.

clear glass with red sand grainer

Photo by Pixabay on

The conflict of this story is that I love beautiful things. My soul craves the peace of an orderly environment. The condescension that I hear in their statements is really from my own feelings of inferiority. I know how hard I have to fight my desire of sentimental attachment with a desire for a peaceful and organized home and my tendency to procrastinate the mundane tasks of filing and sorting paperwork.

Neither do I have the desire to dedicate hours and space to all those stupid EOBs and bill statements. I know I don’t need to keep them all. But I don’t have an industrial shredder just to process all of the mail we get in a year. I will add here that I broke my last shredder trying to stick an unopened envelope from the cell phone company in it. Turns out that 5 or 6 pages folded in half plus an envelope really is more than a small home office shredder can handle.

We are in the process of listing our house and ultimately can’t finish the process until my office is as beautiful as we are making the rest of our home. I’m not even going to start on how frustrating it is that we work so hard to finally finish our DIY projects just so we can sell rather than completing them 5 years ago so that we could enjoy them. :brain sizzling emoji:

But to rev up my motivation and inspiration to tackle this Everest of a room, I’ve rounded up a couple of posts with insightful and practical advice. Not too many because it’s better to get to work that sit reading about it!

The End-All Guide to Getting Out From Under Your Office Crap –

An 8-Step Guide to Decluttering Your Office Once and For All –

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be brave enough to post a before picture of the office, but I will be sure to post one of the result.


**Our office is also where my sewing maching, papercrafting and knitting storage is. It is a crazy kind of place!

***We will probably use Jason’s method of pulling EVERYTHING out of the room due to that it is in our home AND we have to repaint the walls and trim going from the dark spice to the neutral gray that we have slowly bathed our home in.

Do/Did you have a Room of Requirement? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!