Organizing the New Normal: How an Organizer Brought it Home

Wall of CDs

By Rebecca Ross 

A week or two into March I realized that going into others’ homes to work was no longer safe, and perhaps this would be an opportunity to practice what I preach. Life since then, while a bit surreal, has provided some great opportunities for “composing my own domain.”

This is how spring looked for a person who responds to lack of control with paroxysms of organizing. Brace yourselves.

Home Office Before Organizing
Home Office BEFORE Organizing 
Home Office After Organizing
Home Office AFTER Organizing 







Those are the only “Before and After” shots you will ever see from me, and they are mine! I’ve always claimed that over time some objects we keep out of habit gradually reveal their declining relative value.

As I reviewed my shelves with fresh eyes, I found books that I kept for a variety of reasons: some I simply love, some I plan to re-read, and some I use for reference. However, in between those books were quite a few that were just there because they always have been. If I had no intention to re-read them and knew I could easily find them again or just look up the information online, into the bag they went.

Bags of books for donation
First Collection for Donation

Here is where declining relative value comes in. Sure, there were a bunch of books that I remembered and enjoyed, but did I really love them as much as some others that I kept with zero question? Wow, their relative value to me had declined. Over time.

Next came a review of the other dreaded category: memorabilia. Out came the boxes for review. It was good to recognize that some things here had lost their charm. I really don’t need multiple copies of my home town newspaper featuring the antics of my childhood self. One is enough!

The real treat in this exercise was locating the packet of WWI letters from my great-uncle, which are still waiting to be read.

Now I was on a roll and every single closet and drawer got emptied and put back together. My husband was hunched over the music server ripping hundreds of CDs for our digital library. He hosted a public radio world music show in Portland when we met. This task had been on his to-do list for at least ten years!

Once we had the contents of our house reassessed to the point of rapture, I was faced with another requirement of adapting to COVID: cleaning our own house.

Wow! This revealed another level of awareness. Dusting all those knickknacks, endless window sills of pretty stuff - talk about declining relative value. Suffice it to say that I got rid of a whole additional layer of stuff that I simply do not want to spend time cleaning.

Sleeping CatThe takeaway seems to be that in this time of restriction there are ways to turn the focus towards what is manageable. Where better to turn than the place we are all stuck? The environment we wake up in, sleep in, and spend what energy we have in, the main source of our well-being: our homes.

Learn more about Rebecca Ross and her class, Personal Organizing and Clutter Clearing.