Office 10: Box Despair

Along with cleaning out the office, I regularly clean out the spam filter for this site. While occasionally there’s something funny, like the credit lenders who put “Exciting review on! I love this write ups!” in the message field which some how does not increase my faith in their professionalism, mostly it’s boring and occasionally it’s vile. So while I try to scan for your lost messages, sometimes I just delete everything.

I am tempted to do the same thing with the boxes.

There are a lot of boxes in this office. I looked at them and thought, “I just can’t,” and pulled everything out of my closet instead, covering the bed with clothes that are as mixed as the boxes. There’s good stuff in there but it’s mixed in with stuff that’s not my size and stuff that’s not my color and stuff that’s not my personality–where did I get all these damn blazers?–so it’s time to clear that out, too. Of course there I have to try to forget how much I paid for the stuff I’m putting in the box for my sister-in-law’s church’s rummage sale. With the boxes in the office, that’s not a problem because the stuff is most papers and, well, junk.

It’s the sheer boring extent of it. That fifteen minute rule is a good one because even telling myself I can do this one box at a time, I’m screaming. Which is bad anyway because there are only two days left after today, and there are at least four boxes over there still, including the Box from Hell, which is easily going to take one day. So I’m thinking this is why cleaning out paper is so depressing. It takes forever, it’s dusty, it’s boring, and it’s endless. I could just cart the boxes out to the trash, but I might miss something. Which brings us back to Fly Lady’s fifteen minutes a day. This is a smart thing. If I was doing fifteen minutes on the boxes, I could stand it. It’s the hour it takes to get through one, only to find that the only thing worth keeping is six pencils and a nail clipper. I’m not getting enough bang for my buck. Or box. Only it’s not the box, i have no trouble going through any number of boxes on Christmas Day.

Really, if you’re looking at boxes, go for the fifteen minutes a day. Me, I want to get the office done in twelve days. So tomorrow . . .

God, I hate boxes.

34 thoughts on “Office 10: Box Despair

  1. “only to find that the only thing worth keeping is six pencils and a nail clipper”

    That sounds better than “only to find I have to keep all of it”. That’s my nightmare scenario.

    Twelve days is long. Do something fun and not-routine and not-house-related tomorrow.

  2. Chocolate’s good. And when you start to bog down, take all the dogs outside and have a howling session. My neighbor and his dog really enjoy it.

  3. You are an inspiration with a great window seat.

    I’m sitting here surrounded by boxes of paper. I know *exactly* how you feel. Mostly the new condo purchase papers are in one place. But I let some wonky stuff get in before I had a good place to put them. And the design idea pile drifted into the “finances/to file” pile and my filing cabinet is chock full of crap I know I don’t need. Maybe I will get some satisfaction from throwing some folders out wholesale. Then I’ll have space for a second desk, maybe.

    Did your publisher not push Agnes? When I got it opening week at my local Borders, it wasn’t on the lead table and they only had 3 on the edge of the giant covered-with-every-hardcover table. I startled a couple people in my book club when I told them it was out. But the book is a kick and it has the best cover ever, so maybe it’ll become a cult classic, only fast.

  4. You’ve worked wonders on your office and you don’t have to finish a box a day.
    Slide ’em down the hall so they’re out of the office : ) and do them fifteen minutes of a time with a trash bag to dump stuff straight into and whatever you want to keep gets put away at the end of each fifteen minutes. Or do a couple of fifteen minute bouts?
    I know, it’s hard to walk away when it’s not DONE but that’s the perfection, virgo brain trap…so doing ’em in bits is fine.

    Or one mad crazy last burst and a BIG reward at the end. You will be curled up on that windowseat, in your beeyootiful office (still coveting here downunder), grinning like Wolfie.

  5. I’m so sorry about the boxes. But if you think about it, the boxes contain the things that have made the books so good, and in turn made all of us so happy, thus spreading happy Cherry vibes throughout the universe . So you could look upon each box as a major contributor to world peach. Admittedly, this will not make them any smaller or less visible, but I hope it helps.

    And Agnes rocks.

  6. I got up early today with the goal of clearing out the piles of clothes setting on 2 laundry baskets and one suitcase – all blocking my way to my closet. I’ve been dressing from the piles.

    I wanted to get it all done before I meet my sister Pattie (who also posts here at times – usually something from the Sopranos) – we’re going to a New Age show (buying type show, not singing type show. Anyway, I would much rather read. So I’ll take pictures of my piles and put them on my blog (if I can find the camera’s usb cable – probably under a pile) and there will be no 12 days of anything – they will probably still be there and I will be reading and dressing from the piles. That is unless I can find a magic stone at the New Age shop that will make the piles rise, get on the new hangers I bought with all good intentions and sail into the closets.


  7. Carrying on with the virtual fridge magnets (which, being virtual, don’t clutter up anyone’s office), here’s Clea, in Faking It.

    And Jenny, we, your devoted fans, have faith that you’ll soon sort out all those horrible boxes. Think of it as the least pleasant part of your journey (I think they’ve built a bridge specially for you) to the island where the rodents live.

  8. You will feel great once those boxes are done. So there’s something to look forward to.

    Loved “pox on boxes” — how about in the “throes of clothes” I’m there too. It’s so depressing to see all the stuff I cannnot fit into.

    Just know you have company in your clean-out. And think of all the happy women who will get your designer blazers and feel really good about themselves at work!

  9. Get a BIG bin with a liner that you can wheel. Get a second box or start a pile of stuff to give away. Scan each item, giving yourself no more than twenty seconds to decide: pitch, give away, or keep?

    Be ruthless. How long has it been since you’ve ventured into these boxes . . . ?

  10. Shouldn’t this post be titled ‘Box Office Despair’?

    I usually pop a Books on Tape cassette into the tape player before tackling heaps o’ boxes. Something to distract me from the boredom and also once the tape ends I know my time is up and I can go do something fun instead.

  11. I have just given away what felt like half a tonne of clothing I was never going to be thin enough or young enough to fit into again, to a colleague who is arranging a collection for Kabul. I feel quite good as a result, but the disturbing thing is that I still have the same amount of under the bed boxes, and they are STILL ALL FULL…I’m beginning to suspect some sort of fault in the time/space continuum.

    Jenny, thanks for the inspiration. Be careful of those boxes, there’s more to them than meets the eye.

  12. Six pencils and nail clippers, eh? I’m thinking they make new ones of those.

    Boxes: Pitch those bad boys. Don’t even look in ’em. Then go for a paraffin pedicure and relax with a decaf mocha.

    What you could conceivably get out of those boxes is NOT worth the psychic angst of having them hang over your head until you get around to going through them. All the Puritan joy you might get from looking at everything in them won’t be worth it, either.

    What if you lost those boxes–a burglar broke in and stole them or just that part of the floor burned? Would the world come to an end, or would you even miss them? Would you soldier on without them?

    If the trip down memory lane of going through the boxes isn’t pleasant, then don’t go there. That’s past. Trust the Girls in the Basement to bring back to your attention whatever was in there. Get on with the future.

    Trust me on this. I know. My family is going through our parents’ house. Everything that entered it during the past 40 years is still in there. If the process of looking at the stuff doesn’t serve your psyche in some way, then it’s just a big fat waste of time.

  13. I’m telling you, clothing exchange party.
    Someone you know either wants that stuff, or will look at it and say “oh my god get rid of that” or “wow, you look GREAT in that, why are you giving that away?” The hard part of the sorting is the decisionmaking.

    And then there are drinks, and everyone goes home with a bag of “new” clothes, and you take the unwanted stuff directly out to the trunk of your car to go to the thrift store (or wherever).

    The only bad part is you have to spend the entire evening before the party going through your closet pulling out stuff to donate to the try-on pile.

  14. Sorry, babe. Grab a box and go into the tv room and put Hellboy or Big Trouble in Little China on. Bring a second box and a trash container with you, and go through them while you watch tv. That’s always the way I do it (fold laundry too).
    Movies dull the pain.

  15. it is a pity there is no catastrophic hard disk failure for boxes. or that the only alternatives are fires or dynamite. Or really strong capacity to ignore the potential for throwing out the one thing you wanted in the box, that had been lost since the move (Mickey and Minnie, anyone?)

    Hard stuff. I’m deeply impressed.

  16. pity there is no catastrophic hard disk failure for boxes.

    Oh, there is. During my last move 4 boxes of papers got soaked and mildewed. That took care of that. Apparently I didn’t really need my bound thesis, old short stories, or… whatever else was in there. It sounds scary, but I haven’t missed them.

    So Jenny, here’s an idea: Take one sacrificial box outside and turn the hose on it.

  17. Do they have a Career Closet (or something similar) near you? You have to dry clean stuff, but that can be done all in one load, and you get a tax deduction. Plus, women who can’t afford new stuff have something good looking to wear as they get back into the working world. It’s all good.

    I did television news for a couple years before I moved home to California. I’ve never been a suit kind of person, but I had to have a ton of that stuff for on-air. I knew I’d never be the suit kind of person, and the chances of my ever doing anything like that again were nil, so I passed most of that stuff along. Relief to get rid of it and good feelings that someone else could use it.

  18. Hey seester, I posted The Sopranos’ quote on Bob’s site. Here I spoke of my love for Burn Notice. 😉

    The New Age fair was fab. We went, we saw, we bought.

    I have many piles of magazines in my office/den. Today I put about a third of them in the recycling basket without going through them to cut out stuff I’ll end up throwing out later.

    Happy cleaning or not cleaning–whatever your preference–everyone.

  19. Pattie –
    You’re just too prolific for me. 😉
    And you pop up everywhere………..
    Pattie’s seeeeester, who did some cleaning out of clothes (in two 15 minute time periods) and will wait to do more.

  20. Boxes. I empathize, sympathize, and agonize. DH and I are clearing out old records. Ten–TEN!–boxes of them, with tax stuff mixed in everywhere, so every piece of paper must be examined. Aaaargh! Shredder at the ready!

    So I’m stealing some of the helpful hints Jenny’s getting. But I got to tell you, fifteen minutes isn’t going to get it here, not if I want my dining room back for Thanksgiving. But then, hey, the stove doesn’t work anyway. (I recommend not buying Gaggenau, just for the record.)

  21. I’m thinking that the only way to avoid this boxitis is to never ever again put things in boxes. When you find something has reached the end of its useful life… send it on its way to the ever after.

    Now, if I could only follow that observation my house would be so much neater.

  22. lol Yvonne, my mum has been trying to instil that lesson in me since I was tiny. Still hasn’t stuck. I think the tidy as you go thing is a gene. And if you don’t have it, you need some sort of Flylady like system to stop the build up. Or you know, a cleaner and a personal assistant.

  23. I second the audio book suggestion for getting through those really icky chores. It’s like a treat for tackling that stuff. Go find some good ones, Jenny. Hugh Fraser reading Christie is always good, or you know you can get Pratchett on audio too. Download to your iPod and your are good to go. I recommend Going Postal, which will set you up nicely for the release of Making Money.

  24. Jenny,
    Remember, the 12 days is a deadline you set. We are all very impressed with everything you’ve done. The Box from Hell can be done in 15 minutes at a time if you want it to be done that way. You have the power.
    I never, never thought one load of laundry a day would make a difference. I only did it because nothing else worked. It worked.
    I didn’t keep it up, but it’s never been that bad again.
    Maybe if you take a moment to visualize what you want to find in that box, it would become a powerful tool. Think of things you lost and really want, then open the box to see if they are in there. It might make the decision making process go faster.
    Good luck. I think I’m going to follow my own advice this week regarding the boxes of family photos I have to go through.

  25. Well, Jenny has said before that she doesn’t like being read to – but maybe she just needs to try again with something she really likes (I’ve got a reserve at the library for the new Pratchett, Making Money, and I LOVE the Elizabeth Peters Amelia Peabody books that someone here recommended to us, and – as I’ve said before – Patrick Tull reading Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/ Maturin series made my rural Ohio commutes a joy, several years ago). Or she could just rock out, the way she does now (the B52s have a very good “Housework” song that can get one started, if one is prone to alternative rock).

    And I want to second ZaZa’s suggestion – the Chicago area has something called “Poised for Success” that would be really grateful for the blazers, so someone in Ohio probably has that, too. My discards are usually disintegrating (my current dress, which, actually, I bought in Gambier, is only 8 years old and not only is the neckband fraying and some seams parting, but there’s a pair of tiny holes in the skirt in the back (near the hem, fortunately) or stained, but there are some too-smalls that I could get rid of if I weren’t in denial about my size.

    But thanks to whoever mentioned the underbed boxes – sort of. I have one, if only I knew where it was, I could put things in it.

  26. I have boxes in my garage that have been moved from house to house for over twenty YEARS–and yet I keep them because I am afraid that if I throw them out I will lose something invaluable…. So your Box From Hell? Got one or two of them myself, thank you very much. My solution for you is the same one I used–if you got a garage, haul it out there and stick it on a shelf. That way it is out of your office and you can go through it sometime when you actually feel like wading through years worth of memories. Or you can hope for a spring flood and it will wash away and you won’t have to deal with it at all. Just a suggestion. YMMV.

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