I am what you would call a chronic slob, as far as my living environment. I still tuck in my shirt and trim my goatee. But today I got called out in a pitch meeting for wearing an argyle sock on my left foot and a white Puma tube sock on the right. I had no idea. But, my “two room studio,” is in utter chaos. On my coffee table, as I write this, is a cap-less stick of deodorant, a half eaten nuttella sandwich, a USB cable, a half ramekin of basil vinaigrette, and The Muppet Movie soundtrack on CD. As soon as I peel myself off my couch, I’m sure there’ll be at least 50 cents in change embedded in my back.
So where do I begin? I’ve tried attacking one section of my apartment at a time and while half way through vacuuming I’ll find a notebook full of ideas for a comic strip or blog and it’s all over. How do I divide and conquer? Or do I try attack it in one full swoop? What do ya say?
Dear Clutter Boy,
You had me at Nutella.
I hear you. It is beyond difficult to maintain a sense of orderliness and organization in a two-room studio. Especially if you’re also housing a split-personality; one who wears argyle socks and another who wears tube socks.
Here’s what my brother and I used to do when it was time for us to clean up our messes. We’d stand back-to-back, interlock arms, and take turns lifting each other up in the air while singing the Speed Racer theme song. Go Speed Racer, Go Speed Racer, Go Speed Racer, Go! Then we’d zoom around the room trying to clean up as fast as we could. We’d time ourselves and keep track, trying to straighten up faster and faster as the weeks went on.
This worked for a while, until my brother and I reached that inevitable stage where it was necessary for us to despise each other and become interested in vastly different pastimes: for him it was collecting beer cans, for me it was hair-straightening chemistry.
Now, I’m not suggesting you and your split-personality stand back-to-back and sing about Speed Racer. That would be a little creepy. But what I do suggest you borrow from my 1970’s ritual is the idea of timing yourself. Begin by giving yourself a block of time you’ll commit to cleaning. Start small. 10, 15, 20 minutes, or so. Then, be adamant about sticking with it. When you’re clearing out the dust bunnies below the couch and you find that notebook, put it aside and tell yourself, “Clutter Boy, you’ve got 5 more minutes of cleaning, then you can spend the rest of the night with that notebook.” Let nothing get in the way of cleaning during the time you’ve committed to cleaning. The more you do this, the longer increments of time you can commit to, the more you’ll be able to clean.
Good luck. And when you crawl yourself out from the filth, give a shout out and let me know how it’s going.