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MailTribune.com
  • Resolved to be clutter free

  • The National Association of Professional Organizers designated January as Get Organized Month. Attempting to capitalize on the momentum, I decided to meet with a clutter consultant and deal with my "issues" once and for all. My quest began in the 1990s, and at 59 I realize time is running out, it's now or never.
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      Call for submissions
      Do you have a point?

      Then maybe you can be a columnist for a day.

      If you want to take a shot

      at appearing in this space, email a 500-word column to Mail Tribune features editor David Smigelski at dsmigelski@mailtribune.com.

      The rules are simple. Keep it short. Have a point. Don't cuss. And make us glad

      we asked.
  • The National Association of Professional Organizers designated January as Get Organized Month. Attempting to capitalize on the momentum, I decided to meet with a clutter consultant and deal with my "issues" once and for all. My quest began in the 1990s, and at 59 I realize time is running out, it's now or never.
    I had some modest success at age 46 when we moved to Medford, but as family members began passing away at an alarming rate, the three or four empty shelves in the garage quickly filled with priceless treasure. My husband's sanity was further compromised by the two bicycles I purchased in the last century, which have remained permanently parked, obscuring all access to our garage storage.
    My purge-fest instructions were simple: Set a timer for 15 minutes and place the items to be discarded in one of three bins labeled trash, recycle and donate.
    Wanting to start with something small, I tackled the entryway. Cranking my mother's vintage, lopsided timer to the designated dash, I thrust myself into the closet like a mad housewife on steroids and pulled out no fewer than 15 jackets that hadn't been touched since we moved to Oregon. Overwhelming the donation bin, I quickly shoved the mountain of down into my minivan and drove it to the Salvation Army before I had a chance to change my mind.
    Did I mention the timer task is to be exercised daily? Over the next week I tackled the kitchen-island cabinets, the guest-room closet and the office library. Books are always a challenge, but I filled three shopping bags easily enough and promptly made my way to the Rogue Valley Book Exchange. OK, so I came home with two bags of new books, but from where I sit that still leaves me in the plus column.
    The garage was something I had planned to work up to, but when the pipes burst in mid-December, I was forced to deal with it. Lugging the photo boxes into my studio, I painstakingly went through them one at a time, resulting in a measly 10 percent discard rate (but did throw away the ones that were out of focus and totally faded).
    Next up was a box marked calendars. The first commandment of organizing is to put like things together, so at least I had that going for me. Lifting the lid, I was blasted with the twin scents of my grandmother's basement — you know, musty and dusty. Sure, most of this stuff should have been thrown away, recycled or ceremoniously burned years ago, but you can't deny the priceless personal history aspect.
    Feeling empowered, I grabbed the timer and set it for 30 minutes. I decided to work chronologically and began transferring calendar highlights to my family history journal, which meant violating Clutter Commandment No. 2, and stepped out of the room. In no time at all the buzzer rang, dismissing me from this arduous exercise. With 10 days to go, my resolve has never been stronger, and just this morning I shredded 20 years of tax returns.
    What's next?
    Susan Bundgard Hatfield lives in Medford.
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