If you happened to follow my blog at the beginning of July you will know that I found a super cool membership site called ZenHabits – Sea of Change Program.

Each month is a theme dedicated to making positive change in your life.  You can read here how I got to the point where I needed a serious sea of change in my life here and how I got started (thanks Sissy Law for getting me started a few years back).

Now I must confess that I was a month late finishing my challenge but I didn’t let the excuse of not meeting my imposed deadline a reason to give up and not complete the challenge. I have learned not to beat myself up and just move my little imperfect self along my journey,

So the office cleanup challenge started on a Friday night after the kids left with their dad for the cottage for four glorious days of kid free freedom. During that time I not only started my office challenge but I also enjoyed the company of friends, ran on the waterfront and attended hot yoga for a good balance. Yeah, I like to cram pack freedom.

The balance was needed but I do admit that my challenge took me by surprise. I really underestimated how long it would take.

Here are the basic steps I took in my office purge challenge:

  1. Spent time on Pinterest looking for inspiration (Friday night)
  2. Went to Ikea, Staples , The Dollar Store and Walmart for various supplies for the revamp after the de-clutter was done. (Saturday and Sunday morning)
  3. Basically took almost everything out of my office to look at the space with fresh eyes and new potential (and with my friend Melanie encouraging me to get rid of all the extra furniture I didn’t need (Sunday  afternoon)
  4. Melanie and her husband helped me move everything out. (Sunday afternoon)
  5. All my paper work clutter and garbage was removed and taken to my back patio  by yours truly and eventually to clog up the garage (sorry Rob but we had to wait for garbage day and in fact had too much for the poor garbage man to handle all at once) (Sunday night)
  6. Then I started on putting together all the new or re purposed stuff together (ie: spray painting frames black, new organizational bins, shoe racks – all with a pretty look as much as possible) . Focused on a colour scheme in my selections (Monday)
  7. All in all it took me four days to complete the challenge and it was exhausting but I needed my office back so I had to keep going even though it was a bit more work than expected (ie the painting) (Tuesday and Wednesday)

Here is what it looked like before during the de-clutter removal:




It was overwhelming and little emotional.


I got rid of files from my corporate career and that felt weird. I saved the important stuff like reference letters but chucked all the old dental form claims. I also got a kick at looking at old evaluation forms seeing how my pay rose over the years too.  It felt like saying good bye to my youth era and welcoming in an exciting future with a good focus on the present.


Here is the final result (it looks prettier and more gratifying then a picture can show):




What did I Learn

  • When you are alone you can get way more accomplished. As soon as my family came back it slowed things down tremendously and  I wasn’t prepared for how frustrated I would feel when  my project not moving as fast as it was when they were gone.  I also had to deal with my husband questioning why all the crap was in the garage (the stuff that couldn’t be thrown out but couldn’t go back in my new precious office). I felt tired and didn’t have much of a fuse for warranted criticism.
  • It feels emotional going through your stuff but a good emotional to be in the present and not holding onto the past glory days.
  • It cost more then I was hoping – all the bins and stuff added up.  $420.74 and that included NO FURNITURE  – amazing how much black spray paint can add up!
  • Maintaining is key. I bought a paper shredder and am being really strict about keeping the office super clean as I don’t want to loose that freeing feeling I feel when I walk in the office. At times because I work from home I feel claustrophobic in our little house so having this open space by the window is emotionally cleansing when I feel the walls are closing in on me after too much at home 🙂
  • Felt a bit lonely going for days on end working to finish a project in a very quiet house (but then I felt frustrated when everyone came back so it goes to say you can’t please a woman LOL

What would I do Differently

  • Focus on the office only over the weekend. Not the day to go and buy fall plants that I then feel I have to get planted. All the back breaking work adds up when you are 40+
    I did leave the gardening supplies lying around until the kids came home, but I could have saved that project for another time.
  • Maybe hire one of my WIBN members to help me figure out how I could get rid of and organize my files and have an extra pair of expert hands on site  – I still have stuff that I figure can’t be thrown out but don’t want to bring them back into my office (ie bank files,  hose warranties, past year taxes, etc). For now they are in my basement but I need to do something with this stuff. I am thinking I may get a fire proof cabinet but I couldn’t bring myself to spend more money at the time.

So I hope this might inspire you to take on a project like this. As a busy mom I find no better feeling then a sense of accomplishment of completing a project that can make you feel better every day when you walk in to the new space and enjoy it.