Need some help with managing the clutter of life AND works-in-progress.
May 31, 2013 6:14 PM   Subscribe

I already struggle mightily with housekeeping, but adding supplies for artistic projects to the mix only makes the mess overwhelming.

Components of at least four different projects are slowly eating my room right now...fabric and sewing machines for a costume; cardboard for a furniture project; more fabric and embroidery thread for a quilt I wanted to make; receipts I've collected over the years for yet another project I'm having trouble conceptualizing. They're competing with [clean] laundry, recent thrift-store purchases, bags of trash and some giant pillows I found a few months ago that I really liked.

I feel odd calling myself an artist at this point, as I can't really bear to spend more than a few days on any project without getting ridiculously bored with it and shelving it, no matter how many months I've spent conceptualizing it. I think I end up really getting ahead of myself in that I occasionally get really interested in projects that require a steep learning curve before I can even start; or where my current skill level is not enough to push me through the entire process. With the exception of graphic design and website projects for clients, I haven't completed a project since I was in middle school. I WANT to.

To be clear: I live with a roommate and have no real issues with keeping common areas clean and tidy. It's just my own room, which serves so many different functions, that's frustrating to keep clean. I eat here; I work here; I sleep here; and I come in and close the door to calm down (I have a really social job, and I need a quiet space when I get home). Our landlord won't let us hang anything on the walls; I have a large bookcase, but it's oddly-shaped and I can't store everything on it; and I have a small walk-in closet, which is already full of an entire studio's worth of stuff (I had my own place before moving in here).

I'm loath to get rid of the supplies, but the mess is making it hard for me to calm down and use my room as the refuge I intended it to be.
posted by oogenesis to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Can you spring for Ikea's basic loft beds? Keep the bed very neat and it makes for a little oasis of tidy floating above the clutter. Mosquito netting could further segregate you into a mini-room up there.
posted by kmennie at 6:20 PM on May 31, 2013

Do you have space under the bed? That would be ideal for fabric and cardboard storage. However, sometimes out of sight really is out of mind and you may have even more trouble finishing projects if they are hidden. Maybe you could keep one project's supplies out and the rest put away until you finish it. And make it a rule that you can't bring in supplies for a new project until you finish one.

I cannot overstate how much more at peace I feel since drastically decluttering. Maybe consider whether the thrift store purchases were a good buy if they are creating clutter that stresses you out and keeps you from fulfilling your personal goals. And throw out the bags of trash ASAP.
posted by payoto at 6:26 PM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Could you raise your bed to create more room for storage?
posted by travelwithcats at 6:36 PM on May 31, 2013

I've heard people say that having a clean work space helps them focus on their work. Maybe you would find it easier to work on one of your projects, if the other ones were packed up and put away and not right in front of you?
posted by Lady Li at 6:51 PM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ha! You sound like me, and like kmennie's suggestion, I have this loft bed. A really sturdy table from IKEA fits under it, too, and that's my workbench. Lots of modular storage is my key -- organize-y type furniture from Pottery Barn Kids and a tall gym locker I bought off Craigslist. Lots of shelves with bins to keep things sort of contained. I'm a lifelong dilettante, and the number of different projects I have supplies for is sort of staggering. The cubbies keep it somewhat under control.

Oh, and edited to add, I can hang things from hooks underneath the loft bed (paracord, the chainmaille I'm working on, drying watercolors, etc.). This all works best if you're on the short side, of course.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:16 PM on May 31, 2013

Don't be so down on yourself. I have stuffed animals and thrift store scarves in a bin in my bedroom, but I have a large bedroom. Oh, and those crocheting projects and that hand woven rag rug that I was going to get to, maybe the art projects or those chairs that need to be re-caned.

Can you get a hold of some cardboard tubes to wrap fabric and things around? Maybe an accordion file for receipts?

Either you accept yourself as you are, or you organize your mess. Either way, it's okay. But stop worrying about it so much. Whatever it is, it's not life threatening, and it can be dealt with. I think it sounds rather dear, myself, and I'd like to see your mess.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:46 PM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: From what you're saying, the problem isn't so much the lack of room as that you start a project and never finish it. I've been there. I feel you but you're spreading yourself to thin and need to limit yourself if you want to get things done. I let myself have one big project and two small ones going at one time. I don't start anything more until I get something done. It kind of sucks sometimes but it does put enough pressure on me to finish most things. This took an embarrassingly long time for me to figure out but it has really helped me get things done.
posted by stray thoughts at 8:20 PM on May 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have the same problem. It is so difficult to find the time to balance everything. I only have 2 suggestions:

1. This may have absolutely nothing to do with your particular situation, but in some cases things like ADD, depression, anxiety or simply fear of failure if you were to get everything organized can really debilitate one's ability to be motivated to organize and move forward.

2. This book helped me to some degree. I think I need to read it again. :)

Good luck!
posted by Arachnophile at 8:33 PM on May 31, 2013

Best answer: Pay for a small storage area and move all your junk that you do not need on a daily/weekly basis there. Find the smallest space that is just big enough. Revisit the space every month or so and switch over stuff as required and consider if you will ever use what's there again, if you've not used and missed it for a while.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:40 AM on June 1, 2013

"I'm loath to get rid of the supplies, but the mess is making it hard for me to calm down..."

If you're an artist, you're sure not earning money on the barely begun projects cluttering your landscape.You know who would just love those crafty supplies? The people combing Craigslist. List them on there, and make yourself some extra money.

Also, what's with biting off more than you can chew, learning curve-wise? That has got to be demoralizing as well as disheartening. So, and the old vaudeville doctor said: "shtop doing zhat!"
Pick the one project you've shelved that has the most potential, and make yourself finish it. Then: SELL IT.
posted by BostonTerrier at 7:14 AM on June 1, 2013

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