Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Basement Resolution

At the beginning of each 2004, 2005 and 2006, I resolved to clean out my basement. At the end of each of those years, I had to acknowledge a failed resolution. Is there something about that black hole in my floor that frightens me? Could it be that the mess that cellar has become is beyond my organizing skills? Will I put it back on my resolution list for 2007 just the same?

I suspect the answer to all those questions is yes.

And so I turn to my new organizing book: How to Organize Just About Everything: More Than 500 Step-by-Step Instructions for Everything from Organizing Your Closets to Planning a Wedding to Creating a Flawless Filing System by Peter Walsh. Peter Walsh is the professional organizer on my favourite home improvement show, Clean Sweep. (Part of what I really like about watching him work is the strong feeling I get that keeping his own life on track is as much of a struggle for him as it is for any of us. In other words, his sock drawer might be tidy, but I bet his life is a mess.)

Because I am writing this blog posting, I will turn to “Organize the basement,” which is #89 out of the 501 sets of instructions. If I were not focussed on this posting and dealing with the basement, I would probably be reading #30 “Plan the perfect date” or #171 “Become a Cowboy”.

(Although someone with attention deficit issues needs the organizing help in this book, it is probably too distracting for the confirmed ADD person. And one less-than-well-organized friend of mine took one look at the book and told me it scared her.)

Where was I. Oh, yeah the basement. #89. Crap. It’s useless. 7 tips on keeping it dry. My basement is dry. Not an issue. 4 tips on keeping it orderly:

    1. Install shelving – there’s plenty of shelves
    2. Label boxes – okay, I’ll do that
    3. Install a smoke detector – done that, and it’s a good idea, but how does that help with the mess?
    4. Hang things from ceiling joists not pipes – well, d’uh.

But wait, maybe there’s something on dealing with a huge mess.

#8 Overcome Chronic Disorganization General tips

  1. Identify the reasons why you are terminally disorganized. Do you have ADD or ADHD? If so, this is a clinical disorder that can be treated. See also 268 Organize Home Systems for ADD. (As if someone with ADD is going to make it to #268 without stopping at #183 “Organize an archeological dig” or #221 “Defend against a hostile takeover”)
  2. Take it one step at a time. Before you can mop or vacuum the floor, you need to pick up the toys, clothes and shoes. Reward yourself for each tiny task, and you'll be inspired to keep going. (Ah, ha, I’ve found a reason to open that box of cookies in the kitchen.)
  3. Learn to let go of unrealistic expectations. Your home or office may not win any cleanliness awards, but having a system that works for you will make the difference. (No cleanliness awards? Perhaps not. But a cleaned out basement might count for something with the selection committee for the Most Improved Person Award.)

So. Now I am ready to tackle the basement. One step at a time. Get stuff off the floor so I can vacuum. Eat cookies in between. I'd start right now, but it's bedtime.


Harmony said...

When you are done, you could come over and clean my basement. I don't think it's QUITE as messy as yours, but it's getting there. Maybe I'll invite Aggie to help, as well.

David Scrimshaw said...

This does not seem like a good idea to me, Harmony.

Unless this Aggie is better at dealing with basements than I am and really loves cleaning them out.

Otherwise, in a few years (when I'm likely to be done) you could have two disgruntled people flinging things around in close proximity to your home's heating, electrical, water and sewage systems.

Asteroidea Press said...

I have to say, David, this organizing book sounds very silly. Is there a section on the general principles of organization before it gets into "label boxes"? The different ways you could organize things based on the ways you might might want to use them later?

Funny enough, I'm going over to Grace and Greg's house tomorrow to help them re-organize their basement.

Anonymous said...

It seems like everybody is reorganizing their basements right now. I got mine half done (the easy half), and then kind of abandonned it. But it does look halfway better now. And now I have room to store more crap when I get it.

David Scrimshaw said...

Asteroidea, I bet the Organizing book does have some general principles. But I'm afraid I was not methodical enough to start at the beginning. I'll have a look in a few minutes.

Zoom, I just had the same comment from my mom. She said she'd have added a comment here on her basement situation but it would be too depressing.

But then she doesn't really know how bad my basement is.

Anonymous said...

Or you could squeeze your eyes shut and use a blow torch. I tried praying for a flood with mine so I could part with moudy soggies but when it flooded, it drained away from boxes. Darn.

Failing the blow torch method, put all the papers in a low part of the floor.

Unknown said...

Be thankful you don't live in Southern California where we don't have basements to get disorganized, it's our garage instead. It is so much easier to close the door to the basement and forget it, than it is to ignore the garage. Granted, we both have doors from the house to the offending mess, but you have more stairs down to the mess, making it harder to see. Plus, if I open the outside door of the garage, my neighbours get to see my mess.

David Scrimshaw said...

Hey Heather, I can see how a garage would be a bigger problem in many ways. For instance, much easier to put things in the garage in the first place.

On the other hand, how often does your garage flood?

Unknown said...

Fortunately no floods, unless the washer or hot water heater spring a leak, or an earthquake knocks the heater loose.
I have black widows in my garage. Can you beat that for wildlife?