C.O.P. Week 1 – A Massive Purge, A Clean House

As I mentioned yesterday, my first week of COPing my house has been hugely successful. (C.O.P. = cleaning, organizing, purging, i.e., my goal for this year). If you’d like to read about the genesis of this C.O.P. goal, you can read about that here.

Not only have I made some major headway in clearing out my house and getting things clean, but I’ve learned a whole lot about myself in the process.

But I know you want to see the results, right? Here is the result of my week one purge…

COP week 1 - eight bags, recycling - 2

Now if you’ll remember, my goal was one black contractor bag each week. Can you see how many are here?

COP week 1 - eight bags, recycling

Eight. That’s eight contractor bags, my friends! EIGHT! And that doesn’t even include the two that I filled while cleaning up the carport area, and that I put on my trash pile out back. So really, there were ten total. But I’ll just count these eight because these actually came from inside my house. And you’ll notice that in addition to those eight bags, I also have a box (about 24″ x 36″) filled with recycling, which is mostly Amazon boxes that I’ve just been tossing into the sunroom with an “I’ll deal with that later” mentality.

So the obvious question here is, “What’s in the bags?

Random stuff, y’all. Just random trash. The first day, as I put my earbuds in my ears and listened to Dana K. White’s audio book Decluttering At The Speed Of Life, I was so encouraged and energized just to see some progress and get rid of stuff that I didn’t even keep to one room. I would pick something up in one room to return it to another room, and if I saw trash while I was in that second room, I’d pick it up and put it in the bag. If I spent 10 minutes in that second room picking up and purging, I’d just go with it, not concerning myself with getting back to the original room I had been working on. For the first full day, I just went with the flow in this same way. I figured that as long as I was making progress, it didn’t matter what room I was working in.

I threw away soooo much stuff that I had been holding on to because I felt guilty throwing it out. But the more I listened to that audio book, the more freedom I felt to just get rid of things with zero guilt. It’s almost like I needed a voice in my head to give me permission to just go ahead and send this stuff to the landfill — something I had felt guilty about before. But as Dana put it (and this is a paraphrase), yes, it’s disappointing to see so much stuff being sent to the landfill. But let this be a wake up call. Allow yourself the freedom to do it this time, to get rid of as much as you need to, and to send as much to the landfill as you need to (depending on your city’s rules, of course), in order to clear out your house. But then vow to yourself (and your house, and the landfill) that you won’t ever let this happen again. Promise yourself (and your house, and the landfill) that from here on out, you’ll be more mindful of the things that you bring into your house. That gave me so much freedom, and I went for it.

That almost-full box of cat litter that I bought because the store was out of the brand I usually use, but the smell of this new one made me gag so I couldn’t even use it? I had felt guilty throwing it out before, so it just sat there. But now? No more guilt. I learned my lesson (i.e., never buy that brand again), and I tossed that big, heavy box into the garbage bag.

I didn’t keep a record, but there were so many things like this — things that I had felt guilt over throwing away, so I kept them even though they did me no good, and even though they were cluttering up my house.

Nothing that I threw away was significant in any way. Some of it was legitimately trash — the packaging from our new down comforter that had been sitting on the floor for a month, a pile of used sandpaper discs that had been neatly stacked and shoved into a corner, and on, and on.

This was so eye-opening to me. Those things, on their own, and strewn around my house, simply didn’t seem like much at all. And yet, gathered into one place and put into bags, they filled up five or six contractor bags!! I mean, was I living in some sort of Grey Gardens situation here that I had just become used to and could no longer see?! 😀 (For the record, I don’t think I had quite reached a Grey Gardens situation, but my house was definitely out of control.)

I also tackled the massive pile of dirty clothes in the sunroom. My initial plan was to finally get everything washed. But as I went through it, I realized that about half of it was clothes that I had used as work clothes, covered with paint, caulk, wood glue, etc. And most of those were sizes that don’t fit me anymore. So rather than waste time washing that massive pile, I first sorted through and got rid of all paint-covered clothing that no longer fits. I’m pretty sure that category alone filled up two, if not three, contractor bags.

So all of that added up to eight contractor bags worth of stuff that is now out of my house. (Our garbage truck comes on Mondays, so I’ll have to look at it for a couple more days.)

Now if you’ll remember, my original plan was also to tackle unpacking and purging one box per week, and I did get that done as well. But let me tell you about this box.

COP week 1 - box in kitchen

This box is one that I came across either in the sunroom or one of the bedrooms (a.k.a., previous storage rooms) about three months ago. It was evidently packed very quickly (probably a last minute thing at the condo) because things were just haphazardly thrown in. So three months ago, when I saw that it was kitchen stuff, I sat it in the kitchen floor to remind myself to go through it.

But did I do that? Of course not! Rather than tackling it immediately, I let it sit there because, “I just don’t have time right now, so I’ll do it later.” But later never came, so that box eventually became a fixture in my kitchen that I got used to seeing and working around. When I’d need to use the kitchen, I’d shove the box into the music room with my foot. When I needed it out of the way in the music room, I’d kick it back over into the kitchen. And so this went on for three months. This box, and this process, just became a part of normal life for me for three months, and I never once thought there was anything unusual or strange about it.

Until I listened to Dana’s book.

It suddenly became clear to me that this is not normal. This clutter had become a permanent fixture in my house and in my daily routine that I was used to, but it shouldn’t be there.

So are you ready to see what was in this box that became a fixture in my kitchen and part of my daily routine for three months? Here it is. In the bag, there were five pairs of rubber gloves and half a box of Brillo pads. And FYI, the purple gloves were so tiny that I couldn’t even get my hands into them. Why did I even have these?!

The rest of the box contained an assortment of mostly junk. I mean, what the heck?!

So after sorting through it, this was everything I kept…

Three pieces that go to my food processor, an apple slicer, an egg slicer, a meat fork, a roll of contractor bags, Brillo pads, one pair of rubber gloves, hair cutting scissors, utility scissors, two steak knives, tongs, and a jar opener. Even some of these things might be tossed once I start purging individual drawers, but for now, these items can stay.

What was left?

Four pairs of rubber gloves that didn’t even fit my hands, random jars and lids, a measuring cup that belongs to a set that has been long gone, a pamphlet with direction on how to use my mandoline (really?), a lid to a cup I haven’t seen in years, and on, and on.

Talk about a wake up call. This is the stuff that has been a fixture in my life for the past three months. This is the stuff that has been in my kitchen floor, necessitating me kicking it from one room to another to make room. And almost all of it was actual junk. Not only that, but it took me all of five minutes to go through it. *Sigh*

So that’s a pretty good start to my year of C.O.P.ing, right? Eight contractor bags, one big box of recycling, and one box purged. But wait! There’s more! 😀

I also did my final furniture purge this week (along with a few smaller items)! I dug out the rest of the furniture that I wanted gone from my house, and put it all in the guest bedroom. This was a very strategic move. The guest bedroom is the first area I want to work on (building closets), and with all of this extra furniture in the way, there was no way I could work in there. I knew that would force me to call The Salvation Army immediately, rather than waiting three or four months, to come pick up this stuff.

Here’s everything I gathered up for them to take…

A chest of drawers, three lamp shades, a loveseat, an area rug, a recliner, a decorative mirror, about 20 wall frames, three wheelchairs, a table lamp, a cat scratch/lounge tower, a vacuum cleaner, a side table, a large dresser, a TV, a serger sewing machine, an ottoman, another dresser, and a walker.

And as of Thursday afternoon, all of this is gone!!! GONE!! Out of my house!!

Side note: I do apologize to those of you who said you wanted certain things. I had about five people who wanted the ottoman, and another five who wanted that green credenza. At least two wanted the green dresser. For my own mental well-being, I just needed this stuff gone all at once, and when five people want the same thing, how do I even choose? But y’all know where it is!! They picked it up Thursday, so call today!! I believe there’s only one Salvation Army Family Thrift Store in Waco. And if the ottoman is already gone, remember that I have a very detailed tutorial for how to make your own. And wouldn’t that be better? Rather than taking one that fit my particular needs at the time, you can make one that’s the exact size and color you need! As far as the green credenza, just look for drawers that are curved on front, and you’ll almost certainly find that striped wood effect under the veneer.

Anyway, y’all, this week was so amazing, and I literally feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted. Having an uncluttered house is such a freeing feeling. And that’s no exaggeration. I truly do believe that the condition of our homes has a HUGE impact on our mental well-being, our general outlook on life, and obviously, the quality of our lives inside our homes.

But my amazing week doesn’t stop there. After listening to Dana’s decluttering book, I wanted more. So I purchased and listened to her other book, How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind. There was a lot in the second half of this book that had already been in the decluttering book, but I was still glad I listened to it. The focus of the first half was about developing habits that help you keep your house clean. And obviously, that’s something I need. 😀

So after getting my entryway, living room, kitchen, and music room super clean last weekend (and after my mom cleaned my hallway bathroom for me — so sweet!!), I was determined to do my best to begin developing some habits to keep those areas clean.

And y’all, I am here to tell you that my kitchen has stayed spotless all week long!! This is a major victory for me!! (FYI, the other areas stayed clean as well, but since they don’t get nearly the use and abuse that a kitchen does, that feels a bit less exciting, but still very good.)

As with so many other things, doing the dishes and keeping my kitchen clean on a daily basis felt like such a huge burden and time suck. I mean, I’m a busy person! I have pressing things I need to get done! I have projects that need my attention! I don’t have time for washing dishes and wiping countertops!! Because, I mean, that stuff takes…what? Three hours a day? There’s no way I can take that much time out of my schedule each day to do it!

Well, guess what. As it turns out, if your kitchen is already clean, and all you have to clean is the mess from the meal you just ate, it actually doesn’t take three hours. 😀 It takes more like ten minutes. Minutes.

This was a major light bulb moment for me. So this entire week, I’ve done just that. As soon as we’re finished with a meal, I wash the dishes and wipe down the countertops. And then every night right before bed, I spend about 5-10 minutes using my new cordless vacuum (this is the one I bought) to vacuum the floors, and my house has stayed so clean for an entire week!

And what a difference it makes waking up to a clean house!! What a difference it makes walking into a clean kitchen (with all clean dishes and cookware) to cook a meal!

To say that this week has been life-altering is not hyperbole. I’m far from done with the C.O.P.ing of my house, but I’m on a roll, y’all! And as amazing as I feel after just one week, there’s no way I’m going to stop now.

And I really have Dana K. White and her book to thank (and of course, those of you who recommended it to me). This woman spoke to me in a way in which I could relate 100%. As she described herself, it was like she was describing me. And her book has lit a fire under me that I don’t think will ever go out.

Again, if you want to check out this book that has made such a significant impact on me, you can find it here…

And if you want to check out her other book about developing habits for keeping a clean house, you can find that here…

Again, the second half of that book repeats a lot of info that’s in the decluttering book, but I still found it very helpful and encouraging. But if you can only get one, and you’re a clutterbug and pack rat like me, then get the decluttering book.

And now, on to week two of C.O.P. I don’t expect this second week, or any hereafter, to be quite as dramatic as the first because from here on out, I’ll be spending the bulk of my time working on projects from my 2020 House Goals list rather than COPing my house. I do plan to make slow and steady progress from now on, and this first week was just the amazing, encouraging start to the year that I needed.



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