Things don’t move by themselves

Little by little, our house has gone from order to disorder. Now we are returning to order as we steadily make progress on our renovations.
The disorder started a week before the workmen and women began painting, sawing, and pounding, as our living room furniture was moved to other rooms of the house.
Then, my husband pulled up the carpet, took down the drapes, and removed the baseboard. Even our light fixtures were hanging from the ceiling askew.
By Monday morning, only the 600-pound white ceramic bottle made by my son and a few pieces of heavy furniture stood in the middle of the room covered with plastic.
At 8:30 a.m. sharp, Jean and Bev arrived to paint. Ever since, our house has been an obstacle course of ladders, saw horses, paint jars, stacks of bamboo flooring, and people!
The painters did a wonderful job and were finished by Wednesday noon. Then Tom, Tim, Phil, and Larry started work.
And by Friday evening, the bamboo flooring was laid—almost laid that is! They had to wait for a “stair nose” to finish the project.
What a beautiful floor!
Now, like Humpty-Dumpty, we’re slowly putting our disrupted household back together again. Some of the drapes are hung. The light fixtures are securely attached to the ceiling. And most important of all, the carpenters moved the 600-pound bottle back without scratching the floor.
To escape the confusion and stay out of the workers’ way, I had moved into a small office at the back of the house, replete with TV, coffeepot, a vase of flowers, and a huge wastepaper basket.
My goal was to begin sorting my five four-drawer file cabinets—that means 20 drawers to sort through.
Somehow, the folders that I so painstakingly filed years ago now have differing values to me. Some seem almost sacred, like my publications file folder which contains my first published poem and many articles from the late 1940s and early 1950s.
On the other hand, I have trouble remembering just why I saved six drawers of research for my 1980 Master’s thesis.
But the most frustrating problem of all was the stacks of paper I’ve been “too busy” to file immediately in recent months.
I should have remembered the second rule of the “100 Simple Ways to Live Clutter-Free Every Day” in Cindy Glovinsky’s helpful book “One Thing at a Time.”
“Things don’t move themselves!” They stay wherever you put them. And, moreover, their friends tend to join them—until you have a deeply-cluttered house.
Since I had ignored Glovinsky’s helpful advice, it was now time to bite the bullet. Sorting through folders is time-consuming work and it’s difficult to decide what to toss and what to save.
Now, for two weeks, I was trapped in a small room surrounded by files and cut off from my computer. So I began to purge those old files to make room for the new. And finally, I’m making progress!
From now on, I’ll never forget “Things don’t move themselves!” and another piece of advice from Glovinsky’s book: “Put things back even when you’re rushed.”
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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