Lately I’ve been finding it hard to focus on my work and my biz and I couldn’t understand why. In previous FB posts and blogs I touched on the importance of an ergonomic workspace and having a workspace you enjoy. (One of my mantras when I worked in the corporate world was “A happy employee is a productive employee,” and then management wouldn’t make me take home all the plants on my desk.) Speaking of desk, I added the other half to my desk and doubled the size and it feels great, but it wasn’t great enough. I have an adorable loft for my home office and a window that looks out onto a tree with squirrels and birds. I have a comfy setup with a lot of room and lots of natural sunlight. But I still couldn’t focus. Whatever was the problem? Whatever was hanging over my head? After some soul searching and some wine, I realized how much I missed my good wine opener. Then it hit me.
It was my storage unit.
I have been renting a 10 x 20 storage unit stuffed to the gills with stuff and junk, gewgaws and gimcracks, knick knacks and kadodies. I would get stuff, put it in a box, put the box in storage, and decide to get to it another day. Well, that day had finally come. Last week I spent the whole week offline so I could empty my storage unit. I went through every single box and pulled out what I wanted, set aside what I was selling, and re-boxed the few items I kept. I had movie posters dating back to my first job in a movie theater in 1988. I had toys and keepsakes from my childhood along with EVERY SINGLE BIRTHDAY CARD I WAS EVER GIVEN. And did I mention the Christmas decorations. Yeah. 17 boxes. Why? How? I have no answers other than I always planned to get to it someday. (I told my friends that if I ever go off the deep end I would probably end up a hoarder and the only reason I am not a hoarder now is because I get sick of it and get rid of it and hoarders don’t.) And somewhere in the storage unit was one box with my good wine opener in it. I had to find it because I missed it and would definitely be using it if only I had it. The wine opener was the impetus for my desire to organize the storage unit. It was long, hard, and dirty work but it sure had to be done. I was exhausted and grimy at the end of the week. Then I held a massive garage sale in my brother’s driveway (he’s a good guy) and what didn’t sell was carted off to charity. And you know what? I feel great. As I boxed up items to sell I would look at them and remember why I bought them. I used them, I enjoyed them, but now I have no room for them and I’m not using them anymore. So why keep them? I guess that’s good advice for anything in our lives.
And I find I can focus in my lovely little loft. I have gotten rid of the millstone around my neck and purged myself of the stuff, junk, crap, garbage, quality used merchandise, pick the adjective of your choice. When I worked in the corporate world I would go through my cube and clean it out every so often. I would change the pictures on my cube walls, I would eliminate paper by scanning important documents, I would reorganize and rearrange my workstation so it felt fresh and new. And it made me feel better to be in a fresh, new environment even though I was still sitting in the same cube. (And having houseplants helped a lot.) I guess the purpose of this blog entry is that sometimes in order to feel productive and free we need to get rid of the chaos we can’t even see. Hiding a lifetime of stuff behind the door of a storage unit doesn’t make it go away. Chaos is chaos and it must be returned to order so that you can focus.
I would also like to clarify that I shared the storage unit with my parents. Now that 90% of my stuff is out, my brother’s stuff is in, his friend’s stuff is in, and my friend’s stuff is in. See what I did there? I made myself feel better by getting rid of tons of stuff I wasn’t using and made it possible for 3 other people to store items. This is good in so many ways. So goooooooooood!
Epilogue: My brother was talking about the stupidity of the saying, “It’s always the last place you look”. His rationale, and it’s a good one, is that if you find what you are looking for you do not keep looking for it and therefore it is always the last place you look. I said that maybe it was more like “It’s always the last place you think to look”. So every single thing came out of the unit and what went back in did so in an orderly fashion. But I still could not find my wine opener and I had been through all of my boxes. At the very front of the storage unit is a big rolling rack with all my Dad’s train sets. I asked my brother if we were 100% sure that all those boxes were trains and he said no. So I pulled those boxes off and looked in them and sure enough, they were trains. On the top shelf of the rack in the corner facing the door of the unit was one last box. I pulled it off and what was in there? My good wine opener. The box was in the front of the unit facing the door and within reach the whole time. I said to my brother that this is what that expression means. It literally was the last place I could look. He asked if I had found it earlier, would I have cleaned out the storage unit? I said no. Now how about that?
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