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The corners phenemenon


Somewhat similar to Thursday House, Chris and I noticed another phenomenon that seems to indicate how busy we are and how tidy (or untidy) the house is. We call it bedroom corners or just corners. I bet you have something similar in your life.

Here's what we noticed: each of us tend to accumulate stuff to be dealt with in the four corners of our bedroom. I accumulate things in the corner near my side of the bed and next to the chair (which is in a corner). Chris accumulates things in the corner next to his side of the bed and in the corner next to the dresser. Items that slowly fill the corners include baskets of clean laundry, boxes with items that need to be returned or that will be used in a project we don't have the time for right now, Chris's work backpack or bike bag, bills or important papers to be dealt with, and items to be sold or donated, etc. It's the stuff of life. Just piled in a corner.

The accumulation happens slowly at first and is barely noticeable. "Here's this thing I have to return and I'll probably do it this week. So I'll just set the box down right here..." But before we know it one of us will say, "Corners!" and watch the other one look around our room to realize that we've filled up the corners again. All the corners were full during December and heading into the new year which tells you a lot about how December felt.

Reflecting on the corners phenomenon, I realized that our bedroom corners are places where two kinds of things accumulate: things that represent tasks we don't have the time for right now, and things that don't have a designated home and need one.

During our January power declutter we achieved the wonderful status of clean corners...and the corners have stayed clean! I'm not declaring victory over untidy, full corners forever but I do think we put systems in place that should help prevent them.

In dealing with the things that had accumulated in our bedroom corners there were two tactics. One was taking care of the tasks that the corners stuff represented. This meant making several returns, dropping off donations, and making plans for using things we purchased. For example, Chris took the hairpin legs that were in one corner and attached them to a card catalog to make an entry table that we sold. For other items, like Chris's work backpack and bike bag, a designated home was needed. In this case, I found a soft square tote we already had (that was actually also in a corner!), plopped it in our closet, and declared it the home for Chris's work bags. Voila!

Getting the bedroom corners tidy means that we worked through a backlog of tasks. So when a new item aka task appears in a corner we should have the bandwidth to deal with it. And we found homes for some corner repeat offenders, like Chris's work bags, so that they shouldn't find themselves homeless in a corner again. For now I'm taking great satisfaction in having clean bedroom corners, and am hoping to keep them that way!

Do you have a similar tidiness and life busyness indicator? Maybe a bedroom chair that piles with clothes and life's flotsam, or another surface that's prone to become a dumping ground?