The Twelve Days of My Office

So I had huge plans for this weekend–exercising, working on AKMG, wallpapering the bathroom, cleaning the office–and then ate and slept my way through four solid days and got absolutely nothing done.

So it’s time for Shame, one of my chief motivators. (Not Shane, Shame.)

I read someplace (Fly Lady, maybe) that if you take fifteen minutes a day in the worst room in your house, you can get it cleaned without pain, so I’m doing the Twelve Days of cleaning my office, fifteen minutes each day, right here on the blog to keep me honest. Most of you will not find this interesting so you can wander back in about two weeks when there might be something not quite so me-centered here. But for those of you who slow down to look at accidents . . .


. . . this is what I need to organize. I think three hours will do it. Maybe.

89 thoughts on “The Twelve Days of My Office

  1. I LOVE the Honey Pie sign! And is that a mermaid or a trout atop your bookshelf?

    You need more filing cabinets, girlfriend. Just think, you could turn them into giant collages…


  2. I don’t think I’d be able to clean that in three days, let alone three hours. This is what I have a younger sister for: she cleans up my messes. You want to borrow her? If you tell her it’s your birthday, she’ll do it for free. I always get a clean house and car for my birthday. Which means that my car is only clean during the end of September, but I’m never the one who has to clean it, so it doesn’t bother me.


  3. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you.
    My office doesn’t look so bad now.
    You have made my day!
    Bless you!
    Anything you haven’t touched or read in the last month, toss. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  4. Wait a minute…how did my office get on Jenny’s blog? Oh…oh, wait. I can see now that it’s not mine. It’s just that mine also resembles the site of a natural disaster and, well, those all tend to look alike after awhile.

    Anyway. Yup. Three Hours. Just keep telling yourself that.

    (Personally, I live in fear of one of those organizer people coming to my house. It’s a good idea, in theory, but they make you throw things away. I’m just not ok with that. Just because I haven’t used something in 5 years…how do they KNOW that I won’t find a use for it as soon as it’s gone? They can’t know that. But I digress. Carry on.)

    Oh, and if you miss one of these 12 daily posts, should we send a search party? Or maybe just Bob. Or a canary.


  5. Hell, this looks like my office and my living room. However, pictures of progress might just inspire me to tackle my own mess.

    I’m rooting for you!!!


  6. Oh dear lord. It both repels me and calls to me. The virgo inside of me wants to clean, shelve and label. To be in Ohio!

    Good luck. It’s going to be painful, but just think about how good you’re going to feel after it’s done. Like a colonoscopy!


  7. Holy crap. I feel so much better about myself now. I know, I know, that’s an awful thing to say but I believe in truth. It will set you free. Well, that or a good house fire…


  8. This might show how weird I am but I would totally come clean and organize your office for you and I would enjoy it. I wouldn’t do it for free, mind, because I’m broke, but I’d do it. I’d make piles of things to keep, to toss, and to give away. Things would be alphabetized and it would be fabulous.

    Uh, did I mention I was slightly weird? I’m pretty much Monica from Friends only less neurotic. I’m the person who will leave your house cleaner than you left it if I house sit for you.

    So rest assured there will be at least one person following your progress. I’m addicted to the organizer shows on HGTV but since I no longer get HGTV this is how I can get my fix.


  9. Is this the same room I saw that was blue with a view of water? The room is great. Just needs a narrow path to the desk? I bet you could find anything you needed in less than 5 minutes.


  10. Jenny, honey, baby, sweetheart. I have been here and I have faced the demon. You need three things:

    1. A Buddy to stop you from keeping the stuff you really need to get rid of.

    2. Clear storage boxes. So you can see what’s in them m’dear. Otherwise you have lovely storage boxes and no frickin’ idea where anything is.

    3. A label maker. Although, you probably already have one of those. Somewhere in there. If not, I’ve got two.

    Trust me. I’m a pack rat extraordinaire with an addiction to magazines and catalogs. If my cousin Tara didn’t come and make me get organized, sometimes resorting to taking things out of my hands, my office would look like yours. I know this, because my office *has* looked like yours!

    But, really, a buddy. Anyone going into dangerous territory should have a buddy.

    Nothing’ but good times ahead, chickie!


  11. Um … how do you get in there? I mean isn’t that the back of your chair facing the window? Do you have a pole and vault over the boxes? Heh.

    I spent the weekend cleaning my office and all of the bookshelves and files, am passing on books and magazines I no longer want. I feel great but my back’s killing me.

    Oh, and BTW I discovered two copies of Charlie All Night, which is one of favorite stories, why two copies I’ve no idea, counting them I now have 12 Crusie’s on my shelf. And two Crusie/Mayer’s. Can’t wait to see the results of your housework.


  12. I only feel better about my own housekeeping in the sense that I’m relieved someone else was sucked into the same clutter vortex I live in. I just never knew it, because it’s hard to see past the all the crap surrounding me.

    I’ve been FlyLadying my kitchen cabinets and drawers for the past week. She’s the one who taught me how to declutter, actually. I didn’t know it could be done one shelf/drawer at a time in 15 minute increments over a period of time. I had thought you had to psyche yourself up for a 1/2-day closet declutterthon. Truly a revelation.


  13. You could always do what Bob’s doing and sell your extra stuff on your blog.
    The minute I get rid of something, I can guarantee that’s the time I’ll actually need the thing. Even if it’s been 10 years since I last used it.


  14. You realize if we don’t hear from you regularly now, we’re going to assume that office ate you and we’ll be calling Mollie.

    My space once looked like this, so yeah, you definitely can change it, 15 minutes at a time. It’s much easier to keep up once it’s done, too, which was a nice side benefit.


  15. Jenny, the Cherrybombs would love to come back to Ohio and help organize that for you. I volunteer us all. We could have added that to our mission.
    And we have shovels and know how to use them.

    I L-O-V-E your office. Because mine gets like that a lot. You need a ruthless friend. She hands me stacks of things to go through and if I get distracted by a shiny thing, she throws it away. Calling Bob?

    Lots of new life changes and adventures coming up on you. Might as well start with the office!:-)


  16. You’ll be amazed at how much better that will look in 15 minutes a day over the next twelve days. I’m serious.

    Robena, she’s been on the road since forever. That means the dogs must have done this. You know how it is when Mom’s gone — one party after another. When she gets to the bottom, she’ll find the neighbor’s Great Dane passed out with three of the prissiest poodles imaginable snuggled up to him. Her dogs, of course, will disavow all knowledge of any such activities. “Honest, Mom, we stayed snuggled in our beds and didn’t leave even once. No, really. The whole time you were gone.”


  17. Jenny – I used to do FlyLady. It’s was very helpful. Good luck. If I can suggest, however, try to stick to the 15 minutes as a max. I actually started cleaning so much at night, I was losing sleep. That is VERY unlike me. Of course, in addition to being a disorganized, packrat, I ‘m a little compulsive. Still, I think you will have good success.

    Are you going to polish your sink?


  18. Oh thank God for the Internet and writer blogs, otherwise I’d think I was the only one who stupidly puts aside so many ugly jobs for long weekends that the whole thing seems too bloody demanding when the three days finally roll around.
    My prescription is several damn good rock and roll CDs and a promise to keep moving to the music while tossing stuff into piles (piles are good.)


  19. I’d feel right at home there. If you clean yours, I’ll have to clean mine. Don’t do it.

    I kid. 15 minutes a day, huh? This is very clever. I might actually do the same. It sounds almost painless. Go Jenny!


  20. Since the “fly” in Fly Lady stands for “finally love yourself,” screw shame. You are taking 15 minutes a day to be nice to yourself.

    OK, back to baby steps on the project I put off all weekend and which is due tomorrow.


  21. If I step over the boxes in the opening between the bookshelves, I can make it to the desk, but I have to step over some other boxes on the way.

    And no clear organizers. I must GET RID of stuff, not store it. Bob refuses to go in there and Mollie cried the last time she saw it, so I’m on my own. And no, this isn’t the same office because looking out at the water was distracting me so this one looks out at the woods. And now I have a place for my kitchen table again which looks out over the water which Bob appreciates because he really didn’t like drinking his coffee standing up.

    Part of the problem is that there used to be eight bookcases and I cut them down to five, so there are a lot of books. Which need to go. I don’t see me selling them on the blog, though. “Sixteen books on vampires for a novel I decided not to write.” “Twelve books on the mob from writing Agnes.” Then there are all the books I bought on the Caribbean for the hotel book we’re not going to write now. Or there could be “eleven miscellaneous cords; God knows what they’re for.”

    Maybe eBay. People will buy anything on eBay. God knows, I have.


  22. First I would get rid of the bookshelf thingie because it’s just trapping the mess in and making everything much worse. If you must have them, put them up against that right hand wall. That will open the space up. Then if you simply must have some sort of divider, keep it low. No higher than a 2 drawer file cabinet at most.

    For the books you decide to keep but don’t need easy access to, get some of those steamer trunk type storage things. The books can go inside out of sight. If you get them with rounded lids you won’t be tempted to heap things on top of it.

    Also, it looks as if you might be able to have overhead cabinets built in over your desk. Be sure to have shelves installed in them, no higher than a hardback book. That will limit how much you can heap inside. And speaking of the desk, too much underneath space. That’s the island of lost toys under there, Jenny. Install cabinets or drawers or something. You might think you like it open under there but be honest, how long does it really stay open?

    No, I’m not a neat freak by any stretch. But I am very good at organizing things.


  23. I know Flylady is fabulous for the rest of the house. I haven’t figured out my office yet, because I’m not really sure what I need, and I have four books running through my head.
    I suggest you store most of your books outside your office, with a few shelves for those related to current projects. But all in all, I think your office looks very much like mine, and I haven’t been globe-trotting.
    Whatever happened to the “cave” office? Is this that one?


  24. Wow,McB, want to have a go at my place.
    I still say people would buy sixteen books on vampires for a novel that Crusie did not write. Or twelve books on the mob from Agnes. We are the same rabid readers who collect cherry nail files for crying out loud. Disperse the stuff to our houses. Hmmm. Maybe I should rethink that idea.


  25. Sheryl, you sound like my MIL. In our early years, The Man and I heard “Send it to Virginia” every time we went to visit Ohio, where the in-laws live. We ended up with so much crap it wasn’t even funny. On one trip home, we actually stopped a mile from their house and dumped all of that stuff in a dumpster. How therapeutic. But I had to get creative (ok, dammit, I lied! So sue me!) when the MIL came to visit and she asked “Where is such and such that I gave you two years ago?” Oops.

    Jenny, Gret laughed at the pic. Her exact words? “Geez mom, her office is almost as bad as yours. Almost.” Love that kid. Just love her.


  26. You shouldn’t be ashamed of your office, you do fantastic things there.

    Since people here know Flylady I can say that I’m one of those horrible BO (no, not that, it’s worse – Born Organized) people and your office would give me nightmares. That’s why it’s yours and not mine. I get twitchy when my kitchen island isn’t clean. My mother, on the other hand, used to have a sign that said “People who are organized are just too lazy to look for things.” Maybe she still has it but who could find it!

    As for getting rid of the books, does your library take donations in return for a lovely tax receipt? Just make a list of things you’ve given them so that when they have their annual sale you don’t buy back your own books. Not that I’ve ever done that or anything.


  27. 1. Things you don’t want: get rid of them.
    2. Things you’re not sure about:
    I get lots of boxes with lids – Xerox boxes are really good. Put like things in each box. Label it and DATE it on the SIDE of the box. Stack the boxes in the basement. In a year, if I haven’t needed anything from that box I feel ok about getting rid of the whole thing.

    You also need more shelves. Those don’t look very efficient.


  28. Jenny, that office says “I have only been home long enough to dump stuff and run”. Don’t be ashamed about it to us – we all wish you would write more, or tour more, but nobody but you cares about your office being messy.

    Until a pile of books and papers crushes you, that is. You’re famous enough, offer someone an unpaid internship to heave boxes and walk the dog while you attack the office.


  29. I remember the last time you posted one of your office’s before pictures I thought it looked all too much like mine does most of the time. Now try to picture a two story house in that shape, cubed, and you know what I’ll be doing the rest of the year. /;+)

    That and trying to get back to the writing. Rock on, Jenny. You can do it! Rah! Did that help?


  30. How brave and altruistic of you to post that picture. It reminds me of my son’s room. His motto is that “tidyness is a concept for average people while a genius is the master of chaos”.

    So handle the chaos and find solace in the genius part.


  31. Okay, I have a fairly lax sense of tidiness too but I’m with the holy crap person. I got nothing other than that.
    I saw a fridge magnet once that said “Boring women have immaculate houses” I wanted to buy it but knew my SIL’s would see it and not find it amusing…..


  32. my promised studio which was our diningroom but never used as one, but for storage. it was cleaned out when i got the bright idea to move my hospital bed from livingroom into the room, a chance to get my jewelry work done, when damn it, they followed with recliners and all. so the livingroom was there, and was turned into small livingroom small diningroom which then became, storage.

    i said nonono and when big screen tv entered our life i moved hospital bed back into livingroom and now am located under big screen tv…and plans up for studio cause daughter moved out. right, but she needed to store some things. i looked there today, it is your office it always has looked like your office. in truth a few other rooms look like your office, shhh no one read that. we kick a path, no one has died and when friends come over they say :if it bothered me i’d do something oh how i wish it would bother someone.

    cept now i have a 4yr old i can tie a ribbon around her waist and send her in when i need something that was left when it began my studio. i know, clear as mud.

    we do have rules. you may draw in the dust, you may sign it, but never date them.


  33. Jenny, I feel so much better. I’m inspired. Really. I’m not confident about my own version of the Twelve Day Plan, though. Perhaps I could work through my mess vicariously?


  34. Oh my. *laugh* Yep that’s bad. There’s a desk in there?

    I can sympathize, though. I inhereted the packrat gene from BOTH my parents. So I’ll be interested in seeing how the 15 minutes a day thing works. From personal experience, I know that moving to another country is good for forcing you to get rid of stuff. Probably just a tad drastic for you, though, if all you’re trying to do is clean out your office.


  35. I can’t see anything except you have the same Ikea shelving as me. It’s like the theory of putting something outrageous in an outfit to distract the eye from a worse flaw. Now we just need to get the rest of the world to buy the same shelving and the junk becomes completely invisible.


  36. If you do not have the time for ebay, the books can be donated to the library. One trip and you get a tax write off.


  37. Intervention!

    I’m urge you to post regularly because if you don’t we will assume that you got trapped under your stuff and will call the fire dept and paramedics!

    I just recently went through this myself — my studio. It took lots of Graeters Double Choc Chip (shipped from Cincinnati to Boston’s North Shore — Thank you, Mr. Internet!) and fortitude. I read that about 15 mins a day as well. Hah!

    Sort into boxes and garbage bags. Sort by like items or catagories. My favorite category was RECYCLE!

    My library LOVES taking my discarded books. First I let my friends “shop” and then off to the library. Old magazines go to the hospital. I got binders to sort loose papers — plastic sheet protectors handle the small, fragile and important non-hole-punch stuff.

    Once you’ve cleaned everything out of your office you can “re-load.” Martha, god love her, has organized her craft room in the Sept Martha Stewart. She has some good tips for organizing stuff. (The library has a million books on it.) You can also get creative with old suitcases, interesting baskets, antique flower pots, etc.

    Good luck and please check in regularly.


  38. Excellent!

    I have done little at work this week and last but organize, label, and shelf shift … when I get home there is little motivation to continue.

    Remember that old saying, an organized office is the sign of a sick mind (something along that lines). No worries, you are simply very brain healthy.


  39. I decluttered my whole house by getting rid of ONE thing a day. Some days I tossed (or donated or recycled or sold on eBay)more than one thing once I got inspired, but the key was just doing it every day, and it really did add up. I aimed for getting rid of half the contents of each room, and then when I’d done them all, I went back and aimed for half of the remaining contents.

    It took me a couple years, but I had it really pared down when I had to move with only about two weeks’ notice!

    So, yeah, the little increments really do work. You don’t feel overwhelmed, b/c, heck, anyone can throw out one thing or do fifteen minutes of work.


  40. Nuh uh. I disagree with this:
    2. Things youโ€™re not sure about: I get lots of boxes with lids

    If you’re not sure, it’s destined to be a pile.

    If you’re getting clingy about something, remind yourself that it’s making you miserable owning it, not making you happy.

    I admit, I’m a radical–I love getting rid of crap. It’s freeing. Every unnecessary thing I own is one more thing demanding my attention and keeping me from focusing on what I want to.


  41. Jenny, the trouble with selling stuff on eBay is that it adds more clutter/stuff to do. Ask me about the front closet full of my sister-in-law’s size 10 shoes that she gave to my kids so they could sell them on eBay. No one in this house wants to photograph all that stuff, set up the online store and take care of shipping it out. I figure the money I spent on stuff is already gone. If it sits in the house, unused, the money is still gone and my house is full of stuff I don’t need or use. If I box it up and donate it, the money is still gone, but I don’t have all that crap still sitting in the house.

    Some readers/writers have a really hard time getting rid of books, but I’ve finally decided that most of the books in the house have served their purpose and can be enjoyed by someone else.

    There are tons of books on organization, but aside from FLYlady, who I think is very sensible about her approach to getting rid of stuff (15 minutes/one bag at a time), the book I found most affirming/sensible was Organizing for the Creative Person: Right-Brain Styles for Conquering Clutter, Mastering Time, and Reaching Your Goals. I see Amazon has another book with a similar title, Organizing from the Right Side of the Brain: A Creative Approach to Getting Organized The idea is that a visually stimulated person needs to be able to see their stuff. The book gives some good ideas for storage that allows that. You still have to get rid of a lot of crap, but once you do, organize it so that you can see it.


  42. Maintain your focus and set reasonable goals and you’ll have that office organized in not time. Then it’s time to put systems in place to keep the clutter from taking over again.

    You can do it!


  43. Well, I see I am in good company, office-wise. I don’t feel quite so bad about my piles now. But I don’t know how CMS feels about it; she had to climb over and sleep in my clutter the other day. If i ever lose a guest somewhere in my office, that may be my clue it’s time to clean.

    And DUG, i’ve got to find that magnet. LOL!


  44. I see a lot of other people who’ve benefited from Flylady. I wonder if creativity and clutter go together in some respect.

    The best question for me was the “Do I love it?” test. And, the absolution of not having to try to sell it; that donating it would bless someone else.

    Co-incidentally, when I started Flylady I also found a few episodes of “Life Laundry” on my local PBS station. It’s a powerful series.


  45. WhooBoy, Me, if that was clutter we’re in big trouble when you come to stay in my office. Most of my stuff has drifted to the walls, thank you centrifugal force from the spin of the earth on its access,but you might trip over the carpets that are waiting at the side of the daybed for the attic to be finished.

    At least books aren’t junk and can always be adopted by others.


  46. I love the idea of 15 minutes a day. My spare room looks like that – I have more stuff than I have places to put it, so I need to figure out how to arrange it. I don’t know about getting rid of something every day – it’s not making me THAT miserable. I know I’ll use it/ make something with it SOMEDAY.

    Another advantage of working slowly through stuff is that, as you spend time with it, you remember it, and you don’t go buy another one. Not that I’ve ever done that.

    But maybe I could try throwing things out- if I start with files, that’d probably work.


  47. Oh – it is so comforting to know that I’m not alone in a nightmare of clutter. I have a few rooms (okay 4 1/2) that look like your office.

    After my divorce – my house “Blew up” when I searched through everything to get rid of his stuff. It was heartwrenching and I just left the mess.

    Now, time has passed, and I feel better, but I hide out in my bedroom, cause the “fallout” is too overwhelming to look at. (Nope, I can’t ditch it all, and start over, I have 2 little kids, and they freak if I talk about moving!)

    Who is this Flylady (please don’t throw things!)? I’m willing to give the 15 minutes a day a try.

    Good luck Jenny.


  48. I’ve got a leaf blower you can borrow–one setting mulches debris down to 1/10 its original volume and the other blows it all away.


  49. Lord Tunderin’ Jaysus. I though my office was bad *grins*

    Thank you for making me feel better about myself!

    Bur seriously, I will light a candle for you every night for the twelve days of organizing. May Hestia take pity on you ๐Ÿ˜‰


  50. My whole apartment used to look like your office. I decided to set arbitrary limits for myself.

    10 years or older = stuff still in boxes from my last move. If I didn’t unpack it, it got pitched. I wound up taking the “really good stuff” I coudn’t bear to throw out to second hand stores.

    5-10 years. If I had not touched it in over five years, it was either re-gifted or taken to a second hand store or put on a garage sale or pitched.

    2-5 years. If I had not touched it in that amount of time. I had to come up with a legitimate reason I needed it on hand. (i.e. for a craft project, party stuff or something creative.) If I had no use planned, it went into the goodwill/second hand store/re-gift piles.

    1-2 years. I have one year to use it. If I don’t, at the end of one year it goes out the door as either a re-gift or to a second hand store or to some charity organization.

    Places to take stuff…. Check with local child care providers or local art centers that have art classes for children. (They’re always looking for inexpensive craft stuff for kids.) Second hand bookstores. Libraries or library booksale collection points. Goodwill. Second hand stores (they may not buy it, but they might take it off your hands for no charge). Garage sales/E-bay.

    In the kitchen, I’m getting ready to do the “Have I used this in the last year and do I have plans for it next year?” pack rat audit. My crafting cache, personal library, and bedroom is on the 2-5 year step.

    I recently bought a shredder, so now I can start going through my old papers/documents and giving them 5-10 year treatment.


  51. Jenny – You are an animal lover. Your local SPCA usually has a second hand store (ours does) to which you can donate books and other stuff. It helps them care for abandoned animals.


  52. There but for the grace of a neat freak DH goes I. I am allowed one side table of clutter, but I am required to lower the pile at least once a year, or he does it himself. That threat works. Over time I have actually begun to interalize the idea of getting rid of what you don’t actually need on a regular basis. Its a concept.

    Good luck. I’ll be rooting for you.


  53. OFF TOPIC – Jenny. I AM LOVING ATHM!!!! I was up until 2 am last night (yes, I work) and am almost 3/4 of the way through. WHAT A FUN RIDE!!

    Just sayin’…


  54. I will check your progress daily, Jenny. My office has about that much clutter. It must be cleaned so that I can move my printer off the dining room table and back onto the desk where it belongs. I’ll still write at the table with my laptop because I’d rather look at the harbor than a wall, but at least I can set up a wireless network to print.

    If this 15 mins a day works for you, it will inspire me to do the same.

    No pressure. ๐Ÿ™‚


  55. To echo a thousand desk calendars, an empty desk is the sign of an empty mind. The same must apply to offices, because I’ve just finished Agnes and it was blimmin’ fabulous. Good luck with the tidying but treat yourself to some fun stuff too, in return for all the fun you give us.


  56. You’ve obviously struck a chord here, babe.

    To any of you folks who are chronic de-clutterers, or related to people who take sick OCD pleasure in same, I’ve got good pizza, better chocolate, and excellent single-malt for all y’all if you want to come to Los Angeles. I love throwing things away, it’s having the energy to deal with it that is the issue.

    Marcia, I had to do a Big Sort & Toss when selling my old house after my ex moved out – had a good friend who was an Army Ranger be my buddy for that. Very effective, ruthless, never let me get stuck in the shiny. Buddies are good.


  57. Jenny, you are not alone.

    Try Julie Morgenstern’s book on organizing from the inside out. (Yes, I know it’s another book but really, it’s worth it.) It also distinguished between different types of minds and different types of systems.

    On the books, I for giving them to the library. That way if you do decide you need them back, you can find them cheaply.

    Do not despair. What comes out of an office is far more important than what’s in it. What do you want to accomplish in there and what do you need to do that? If that means you still have piles at the end of the day so be it.

    As long as you can work and you can find what you need when you need it, how it looks is meaningless.



  58. Jenny, once again you leave me in awe of your utter brilliance. Love your office. Mine, tho’ smaller, looked very similar prior to conferences down under when I finally decided to tidy it up (let’s not talk about the one day job that turned into four days, five huge black rubbish sacks, two ash-filled fireplace burnoffs and what are now three huge boxes of pre-loved books sitting on my office floor and waiting to be rehomed, or the hunchbacked thing I turned into as I shredded thousands of sheets of paper).

    The thing is, YOU CAN DO IT! Your office will be clean and empty. And while it stays that way, so will your brain… In even better news, once you recommence your creative clutter everything will flow better, because it will be clutter specific (at least that’s what I’m hoping as I utilise all the brainwaves you and Krissie stimulated at the Aus and NZ conferences and my office once again sinks under the weight of pictures, collages, papers, reference books, coffee cups, water bottles… oh dear…)


  59. LMAO!!!
    You need three weeks, not three hours.

    Still loving my bag, btw. And gf’s are trying to steal it. I’m beating them off like flies.
    (with my autographed book! :D)



  60. I love the Julie Morgenstern book. And if I could find it, I’d read it again.

    Oh, and I’m so glad you liked the bag, J. You never know with handmade stuff. Sometimes its great and sometimes it’s Loving-Hands-At-Home.

    I just got home after a long day of errands and other distractions to get the news that Agnes is #24 on the NYT extended, so you have all done excellent work, raising it ten places. And we’re grateful. Bob even said, “Maybe we’re not doomed.” Well, he didn’t say that, but that was the tone.

    Now I’m going to open my mail, eat some ice cream, and then set the timer for fifteen minutes.



  61. First, you have inspired me. I’m right with you doing the 15 minutes. We’ll see.

    Second, what kind of system do you have for storing the stuff associated with finished books? Do you just throw it all out, including the collages? If you keep that stuff (and I think I probably would), I can see it accreting with each project. Maybe clear storage boxes, and the attic for that? Or does the old stuff inspire you for the new stuff, so you keep it handy?

    Some time ago I found the website that put up pictures of authors’ workspaces. Some people had really great views, some people had the cute corner, but most of them looked…ready for visitors. Then there was your office photo, and I loved it at once. No pretension, in all its messy, creative glory. Real.

    Thank God for that, because if I had to be neat all the time like those other pictures, I’m doomed.


  62. OK, so this is not hopeless. What’s hopeless is my house. I had a hurried move from a place with storage into a place with no storage without purging, and now I am entertaining approximately 40 people in three days. Ha-ha!

    I have written a number of pieces on organizers, and none of the ones I have talked to make their clients cry like you see on Clean Sweep or that other show on HGTV, whose name escapes me now. They can help. And part of what they do sometimes is take the extra stuff AWAY to new homes.

    I’d get an organizer, but my problem is there is no place to put the stuff I really need, nor do I have any furniture. And she might make be get rid of some of the 23 orange shirts I own, which would be bad.


  63. I don’t think 15 minutes a day will do it for me. As fast as I un-clutter one part of my house, another part fills up with crap to replace the crap I just got rid of. (sigh) It doesn’t help that I am a pack rat and keep everything! I still have my English folders from HIGH SCHOOL!! Granted, I kept them on the off-chance that my girls would be subjected to the same mind-numbing blather that I sat through my junior and senior years with our English prof at my high school,(he used a lot of the same material every year) but he retired a few years ago, so why do I still have those folders?!! Exactly.

    Maybe I will give it a shot. 15 minutes isn’t a lot of time–I could probably deal with cleaning stuff out that long every day. More than that and I get overwhelmed and stuff everything back where it was….


  64. Good luck with the 3 hours. If you can do that, you not only can write magic, you can perform it too :-). Perseverance, yup, that’s the ticket, in 15 minute increments. Be brutal when getting rid of stuff, de-cluttering is not for softies. If only I could follow my own advice, sigh.


  65. Um, I don’t know if three hours is going to be enough time. Oh, my. You need shelves. Lots and lots of them! *g* Best of Luck! And Wonderful news about Agnes!! It’s a FANTASTIC book!


  66. Music, and a good friend. That’s what I need to get motivated when one of my rooms looks like that (and it’s usually my study, and I get to that point at least once a year). Get some good sing-along music out and going, take in a cup of coffee and a coaster, and if you still need motivation, invite someone to come and talk to you and not let you leave the room under any pretext until you have done your fifteen minutes. The time will go quickly. If that was mine, though, it would look worse while I was cleaning it as I start to put things in piles on the floor until I can put them away. So maybe brace yourself for that. (by the way, I read Agnes and The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes last weekend, and they were both great. I need to read Agnes again so I can master all the mob plot details, but I really loved her. And Lisa Livia. And Carpenter. And all of them (except Brenda, of course)).


  67. YEA!!!!!!! Congrats to you and Bob, him and you her and him. Top 25 on the NYT. Woo hoo. I am so thrilled for you and for us if that means more Cruise Mayer books!! Happy Dance!


  68. Holy Sh*t, lady. How do you find ANYTHING in there?

    But I confess…I cleaned house for 5 hours on Monday and NEVER got to my bedroom and bath…and I live in a 2200 sq ft house!

    Congrats on Agnes. Read it over the weekend. REALLY enjoyed it. Loved Shane and Agnes. Good job to you and Bob


  69. We just moved house. It was an eye-opener. Where did we get all this junk from? How on earth did we fit it all in our old house?? And where on earth do we put it all now??? A lot isn’t even nice junk, it’s just got faint sentimental associations. I need to be inspired by you all.

    Seriously, what do you do with old stuff with sentimental associations? I know I’ll never use it again, but once a decade or so I might look at it and think “I remember …, that was fun.” So I don’t want to throw it out, but I don’t want to find it a home now either.

    Hey Jenny, I know you said you don’t read Amazon reviews, but did you know Agnes has 16 reviews and 5/5 for ALL of them. Wow!


  70. Reb, shhhhhh. We don’t want the trolls to realize the ratings are good and start posting bad ones to bring it down. But I am VERY grateful to anybody who posted there, thank you very much. It won’t last because there really are people who will post multiple bad reviews just to rain on somebody else’s parade–there’s a life for you–but it’s SO nice to know we started out strong.

    And no I didn’t post any of them. And Bob refuses to go near anything of his on Amazon, so trust me, he didn’t either.


  71. I called my Virgo partner into my messy office to look at your office photo – I actually showed him the before and after photos on your next entry. “I thought your office was bad,” he said. I’m a Sagittarius and we’re always clashing about clutter. Yet he’s no more organised than me – he just throws everything into boxes and then can’t find anything! I’m always searching for bits of paper that I’ve left sitting next to my laptop and he’s moved somewhere else.

    Anyway, Jenny, your fifteen minutes have inspired me to do something about the boxes of stuff that are accumulating around me. fifteen minutes a day. Yep, seeing it’s now 11pm…I’ll start tomorrow! I may even be brave enough to stick before and after photos on my blog.


  72. Hmm. This blog doesn’t like me. It ate yesterday’s comment. Jenny, your 15 mins a day plan inspires me. I’m going to start one to declutter my own office any day now. I need to clear space to move the printer from the dining room table back to the desk in the office. I don’t mind keeping my laptop in the dining room since I prefer to write with a view of the harbor than one of wall, but I want a wireless printing network.

    Actually, before I move ahead, I’m going to wait and see if the method worked for you.

    No pressure. ๐Ÿ™‚


  73. Mary Stella, I just found you in the spam folder, keeping some pretty strange company. I de-spammed you and then deleted the duplicate, but whatever put you in there must have stopped because the one above came through.

    No, no, pressure is GOOD. That’s why I put the pictures up on the blog. Left to my own devices I’d never get this place cleaned.


  74. Seriously, what do you do with old stuff with sentimental associations?

    I read a tip somewhere – take pictures of all that stuff and then toss it. You can still troll Sentimental Alley off the pics.


  75. Mary Stella, I just found you in the spam folder, keeping some pretty strange company. I de-spammed you and then deleted the duplicate, but whatever put you in there must have stopped because the one above came through.

    Nothing new. I live in the Florida Keys where most of the people are strange to some degree. That’s not even counting some of the men I’ve dated. Thanks for de-spamming me.


  76. Work made me behind on my blog reading. And this made me look around at the computer/craft/junk room I’m currently sitting in and think, “15 minutes a day, huh?” And there is the slight possibility that if I began with 15 minutes today, I might be done by Christmas. Maybe. I don’t know. See, just looking at all the junk is vastly overwhelming. Which is why I’m exceedingly grateful that the computer faces the corner. So that I really can’t *see* the junk when I’m in here working. My husband keeps trying to find things in here, though, and it’s very disconcerting to hear all those crashes and such behind me as piles topple.

    15 minutes a day? Hmmm…


  77. I officially don’t feel so bad about my space now. the hubs and I were just talking about how our room is over crowded, but that’s because all my writing and craft stuff stays in here because otherwise the kids will get into it.


  78. Looking around–nope, everything is still the same. Inspired, yes. Motivated–unfortunately the answer is apparently no!! LOL! Maybe if I actually had some time off once in ahwile, but the boss just asked if I was ready to train again on Saturday (sigh). New class of 8 coming through now. I just cadetted my last class this past week and they are almost ready to go out on their own. And I applied for a promotion also–what was I thinking?!! Argh.


Comments are closed.