Make Your Place

I woke up at 3:45am yesterday…ouch. Four cups of coffee and 15 hours later, I had somehow blown through a couple to do lists, but the day started on a low note.

Sleeplessness and unwanted early mornings typically ambush me when there’s a lot going on in my life. It’s Mother Nature’s sneaky little paradox: the more I need sound sleep, the less capable I am of getting it. Working hard and late means that when even everything is nicely wrapped up, I’m far too amped to flip the light switch and fall asleep. I read and dilly dally until my lids finally get heavy, but morning always breaks too fast.

After I attempted to recapture the sandman for awhile, I finally gave up on sleep and committed to starting the day. A few tasks had been on my to do list long enough that they were suddenly time-sensitive, so I spent the next two hours finishing a birthday gift for my mom and wrapping up my taxes. Then I sat down, banged out a few emails I owed, and realized that maybe the early AM wakeup call had been a blessing in disguise.

There are weeks when attempting productivity feels like beheading the hydra: for every project you finish, two more spring up in its place. My usual response to this feeling is to dedicate an entire evening or weekend day to knocking out as many projects as possible…but when the week is full of 12-hour work days, it’s difficult to carve out the time.

My place reflects this state of mind. If the bed is made and there are no dishes in sight, I’m either having a breezy week or expecting company. When the couch is invisible underneath a mountain of clothes? Yeah, my coffee mug is permanently attached to my hand, and I may accidentally give you the stinkeye.

Today I finally reached the eye of the storm and had a few hours to get things done. Before reaching for my to do list, I realized that the most important thing was to make my place. Even though I have a beautiful, curbsurfed drop leaf table in my room that can serve as a desk, it’s usually covered with far too many things to actually prove useful. I end up working at the dining room table, trundling my laptop and stacks of notebooks up and down the stairs from my room or feeling guilty about leaving them out (dear roommates: I’m sorry and you’re the best).

The firm decision to make my table a workspace rather than extra stacking space caused a chain reaction. I moved my jewelry organizer to the top of my dresser. Then the loose black and white family photos that have been on the dresser for months went into my French dictionary for a temporary pressing. A few more belongings went into the spring cleaning/Goodwill box and so on down the line.

After clearing all the clutter, I had my beautiful table back. Sitting down to write felt like dropping the weight of an unbalanced load and standing back up unencumbered. The psychological impact of working in a clean space isn’t lost on me: after spending plenty of mornings moving tabletop junk to my bed, then moving it right back after working, I’m breathing easier and writing more freely than usual (even after my 4am wakeup). It may not look like much, but my place just became way more creative.

Happy spring cleaning to everyone! Have you made any positive changes to your space recently?

organized desk Want to play I Spy? See how many you can spot: 1. ducks 2. origami flowers 3. trendy chevron 4. piggy bank 5. Sharpies

About Humble Foodie

While we both love to eat well, life as AmeriCorps volunteers doesn’t afford us the budget to try every new restaurant and type of cuisine. With many post-graduate expenses and limited financial resources, what’s a foodie to do? The answer is here, at The Humble Foodie. Instead of spending our hard-earned cash paying other people to cook for us, we’re spending as frugally as possible making delicious meals at home.
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9 Responses to Make Your Place

  1. I completely know and understand what it means to make ‘a space’ in order to get any kind of productive work done!! If I allow clutter to build and build, then I am useless. When there is so much on your plate and so much to do, the idea of not having a place carved out to work, takes me over the tipping point! Great post and I totally feel ya this week! (Both with the space concept and the lack of sleep!!)

    • Alicia says:

      I hope you were able to catch up on some zzs over the weekend! I also find that once the clutter starts to build, it has a horrible snowball effect until the space just becomes permanently messy in my mind…thus removing any sense of urgency towards cleaning it.

  2. Julie says:

    So glad you have your space back! Having room to create and not feel cramped is so important.

    • Alicia says:

      Thanks Julie! I know you love to work in coffee shops (me too)- is there a space around your house that serves as your prime writing spot?

  3. I’m the same way with my housekeeping. You can totally tell what my mood has been lately by taking a look around at the presence or lack of clothes and piles of papers and books. Good on you for taking the bull by the horns and doing a little something to make yours a happier space. Small things can make such a big difference! Happy weekend, my dear!

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  5. I should have read this post last night while I was awake in bed unable to get to sleep until 3AM. I could have gotten some things DONE!

    My entire life, I’ve been a neat freak – maybe even a little OCD about it. A’s the same way, but even then we totally have that one space in our home, the shared office, that gets cluttered over time. The other weekend, on a high from sushi lunch and too much iced coffee, we tackled a weekend’s worth of spring cleaning in under two hours. It’s so nice to finally be able to breathe and relax in a room that’s meant to be a place to think and let our minds work, rather than focus on why I hoard so many copies of the Economist and Vegetarian Times.

    Happy you’ve found peace and relaxation in your space. Excited to read what you’ve got coming for us 🙂

    • Alicia says:

      Ugh, I’m such a magazine hoarder too! One of my fingers-crossed-that-I’ll-get-to-it projects is to go through all my old issues of Real Simple and MS Living, rip out the pages I want to save (recipes, DIY processes), organize them in a binder or two, and then recycle the old ones.

      Those days when you just GET AT IT and suddenly your room is miraculously clean. It feels so, so good. Looking forward to more of that in the pre-move. I am not always great with keeping my own space clean, but I love organizing that of others…my parents are thrilled by this development and have already planned a list of cleaning projects for me when I come home in May. 😛

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