How to Spot Clean With a Flame Thrower


I’m sorry that I did not write on Friday.  I started to but it turned into a detailed, whining complaint about cleaning my bedroom.  I hate cleaning my room because it requires sorting, organizing and throwing things away.  I have spent a good 20 hours over the last five days reorganizing and cleaning my room.  I started on Wednesday and by the end of the day on Thursday it looked like someone has detonated some C4 and then dragged a tornado through my room.  I have on several occasions, over the last several days, thought about just closing the door and moving into the basement.

The Why (or reason for this insanity)

I have spent the last several years in this bedroom with a simple chest of drawers, a student desk with a hutch and a five drawer filing cabinet.  It has worked out fairly well and I have been content with the arrangement.  Until recently.  It is time to make some changes so that I can move forward with my life.  That means decluttering my room as well as my mind.

I have a 3 foot square workspace in which I have been working for the last decade.  I have a little table in the family room that is often overflowing with papers, pens, mail and miscellaneous odds and ends.  To clean it off I have to pick up everything, take them to my room, sit on the floor to sort and then stand up to file.  Needless to say I have stacks of unfiled papers on the desk, my window seat, the floor and everywhere.

When you live in one place for a long time it becomes cluttered with little things.  Unfinished projects, knick knacks, things you don’t know what to do with, stuff you haven’t put away, etc.  After 10 years in the same room it had become very depressing due to the clutter.

The Goal

It’s time for a change.  I need a larger designated workspace.  I just cannot run multiple businesses with only 3 square feet of work space.  I need a desk with drawers for pens, paper and miscellaneous supplies.  I need someplace to put my second computer screen.  I have got to keep things filed and it is easier when I work where the filing cabinet is.

I need my closet back.  I have a great closet with half designed for hanging clothes and the other half a complete wall of cubbies right up to the shelves.  There is a lot of storage space, but it is taken up with stuff that I just didn’t feel like dealing with.  It has overflowed onto my bedroom floor making it almost impossible to even get near the closet.

I want a clean and functional room!

The How (what action is required)

This is the part that I have been putting off for the last three years.  Of course it is a lot worse now than three years ago so it is my own fault.  It’s time to C-L-E-A-N and reorganize.

Demolition: I emptied the filing cabinet, the dresser and the desk onto my bed and the floor.  My nephew and I moved the dresser and desk into the bedroom upstairs.  No pictures because it is too depressing.

Rebuild:  My very large and heavy office desk was moved up from the basement and into my room.  Last time we moved it we had three strong men.  This time there was me (not so strong) and my nephew.  We could not lift it up the stairs.    To get it up the stairs we had to slide it up on its top.  My nephew pushed from the bottom and I lifted the edge over each stair.  At the landing we had to stand it on end just to turn it the 180 degrees to get it the rest of the way up the stairs.  The last half of the stairs we had to man handle it up on its side just to get it through the door.  After waiting for the pain in my chest to subside, we carried it down the hall and stood it on end, again to turn it, and manipulate it through my bedroom door.  Once place in the corner I again waited for the pain in my chest to subside and the ability to breath.  We then moved a small wardrobe up from the basement and into my room.

At this point I sat down and took a very long break and about 800 mg of ibuprofen.  I was having chest pains, tremors, difficulty breathing and weakness in my legs.  Hmmmm, could it have been all the abnormally strenuous activity?  YES!  I should have called in more muscle but was feeling rebellious and “I can do it myself!”  Stupidity run rampant.

Cleaning With a Flame Thrower

After having some lunch I went into my room to survey the damage.  My first thought was, “I need a flame thrower and a fire extinguisher.”  The  tools that seemed best for some serious spot cleaning.  You point a flame thrower at the largest and most frightening piles and reduce them to ash.  The fire extinguisher is to keep the fire from spreading it undesired locations.  Vacuum up the ash and you are done.  Simple, direct and fast(ish).

Unfortunately (or fortunately according to my mother) I do not have a flame thrower so I have to clean the hard way.

The Reality

I have shredded at least 10 lbs of private papers.  I have bagged and tossed another 10+ lbs of paper.  I have filled 3 garbage bags with stuff that was just taking up space and had no real meaning.  I used the shredded paper as packing material for packing up the things that were precious to me but had no home.  I have five boxes to move to my shed today.  Is my room clean?  No.  I’ve still got the desk to clean off and my closet to sort through, but I am feeling much better about my room.  It will probably take me several more days to finish this project, but I will no longer have all that clutter around me.

Moving Forward

Sometimes we forget that it is not just emotional baggage that holds us back in life.  The physical clutter that surrounds us can be even more debilitating.

Life’s Bruises

These are my bruises five days after they were acquired.  Some are still swollen and all are still very, very sore to the touch.  I wear them proudly as a badge of accomplishment because I succeeded in doing something almost beyond my physical limitations.

Life leaves us with many bruises.  Be proud of yours for they are a sign that you are participating in life.

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