Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ Constant Vigilance!

Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom


If you, or your children, are fans of the Harry Potter books, you are probably familiar with Mad Eye Moody and his admonishment – given freely to young and old wizards and witches – Constant Vigilance!

Constant Vigilance! is what I need when I manage to clear an area that has previously been a black hole. (You know those – places where all things seem to gather and nothing ever leaves.)

My desk has been giving me nothing but trouble for the longest time: Sometimes I can’t even use it because the surface is so cluttered. I hate it! I finally did The Big Sweep and cleaned everything off the top. My goodness it looks lovely, but it needs Constant Vigilance! Everyone – including me – thinks that it’s still the “Drop Your Junk Here” place. The “Don’t Know Where It Goes? Put It Here!” place.

I am patrolling my desk multiple times a day. Multiple times a day I am relocating things off my desk and to their rightful home. Multiple times a day I am wondering why in the world my desk attracts so much junk. But I am keeping at it with CONSTANT VIGILANCE! I want my desk to stay nice, and until everyone gets out of the habit of using it as a storage locker, I must patrol it repeatedly.

Do I feel discouraged about this Constant Vigilance? No, not really because I know that it’s like the training wheels on a kid’s bike. I need it now, but later, I’ll be able to set it free.

Today’s Mini Mission

 Declutter an old piece of equipment, possibly work related from days gone by.

Today’s Declutter Item

Unfortunately the new Media Uploader for WordPress isn’t working so there is no photo for today.  Today’s decluttered item is another 30 photographs. I am making great progress with the photo decluttering.

Eco Tip for the Day

Do you throw away that last little piece of soap when it gets too hard to handle? No need to waste it just join it to the new bar. Every little thing saved from waste is a good thing.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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  1. Constant Vigilance! I like that Cindy. We have one of those places. We have no entry hall either at the front door or the back door. They open immediately into a room (living room or kitchen). So we have made this one area on the kitchen counter our launch pad so to speak. That is where we collect things that need to go out the door on a particular day. It ends up with things on it about 3 times a week. But my work table is where it all collects as soon as we know it needs to go somewhere. I’m really tired of both of these but haven’t come up with a better plan yet. So I have to be constantly vigilant that they stay organized and things don’t get out of hand. I like that idea. I would have never thought to call it that.

    • Especially if it’s a launching place, collecting clutter is practically its job description. As long as it keeps moving along…

    • Deb J – I used to keep my launch pad on the dining room dresser – but recently I am trialling having a basket in my car so that stuff that needs to go is already loaded and out of sight. So far it is working good.

      • I started using a box in my car, too, Moni. I have a box from the thrift store in my closet, but the things that need to be returned during errands, given to a friend when I see her, etc. ride along in the car with me. So far it’s working great and keeping my hallway clearer.

      • Hum, Moni. That’s a good idea.

  2. Constant vigilance. A metaphor for life.

    • Mad Eye Moody’s other piece of advice was “Elementary wand safety, nobody bothers about it anymore….”

      • I wish I had me one of those wands then there would be no problems what so ever. Or maybe there would be a few people walking around with pigs tails every now and again. Hee Hee!!! 👿 😉

  3. Constant vigilance – that is my new 2013 motto for my dining room table. Everything we want to relook at ends up on the table. Mail, keys, catalogs. I’m going to work on this every day and hopefully, will build a new habit. Nothing on the table but the centerpiece. Period! Another tidy initiative.

    • Hi Maggie, I would suggest eliminating the catalogues. That could help reduce clutter coming in as well and save paper. What I find is that looking through catalogues only makes you think you need/want things that you would otherwise not even consider. Getting things on sale out of a catalogue is only a bargain if you ever needed them in the first place. The money you save the rest of the time by not buying anything makes it affordable to pay full price occasionally when you do.

      • Colleen – I put a no junk mail sticker on my letter box and it was a really good move. You are right, it halts the whole process of going to the shops. When I need something now I go onto the most likely store’s website and can either look on their downloadable catalogue or if they have an e-commerce site, I can browse then. Adrian claims it was the best investment in not spending he’s ever made.

        • We have tried the No Junk Mail sticker but it doesn’t work because most of our catalogues are thrown from a car onto the front lawn rolled up in an elastic band. People in cars don’t care and can’t see stickers! So we do flick through them but we rarely see anything we want. We have got to the point where they just go directly in the bin now…

          • Low Income Lady – I work in a signwriter’s shop and just now a lady has come in asking for a small sign that she can peg into her lawn ie on a pointed stick saying “No junk mail or free newspapers”.

  4. Sounds like an excellent, achievable NY’s Resolution Maggie.

  5. Your desk is my sofa Cindy. It’s like a magnet. I am working on making sure it is clear at the end of each day though.
    Loving the Mad Eye Moody quotes 🙂

  6. In that case Katharine, please be warned “Better wizards than you have lost a buttocks that way.” And without a buttock, your sofa would be a whole lot less useful, so keep at your decluttering and never store your wand in your back pocket.

  7. Cindy – I also did a clean sweep of my desk recently and it took longer than I expected to get it ship-shape again, but I did the drawers at the same time too as it had been about six months since I’d last gone through them. It looks so much better now.

    Now I’m just trying to think how to eliminate my pin board above it. It has been my ‘brain on the wall’ for some years but it looks so out of keeping with the rest of the room these days.

  8. That’s my desk too! Not only does it look bad, but when someone drops something on it (besides me) when it’s already a mess, then I don’t ever see it. Many a school notice has gone AWOL that way.

    • Creative Me – I thought I was done with school newsletters this year, then both my girls (my son has just finished Year 13 and is entering a trade apprenticeship) brought home newsletters on the last day of school headed up with “Important Information for 2013 – Keep This Sheet” – I am thinking of grabbing a brochure holder from work (its a spare one) to use for newsletters or must keep info. Rather than a big calendar on my pin board, I have bought a desk calendar with squares big enough to still write on.

      • When are schools in the Southern Hemisphere ever going to step into the 21st century and start sending their newsletters via email. Seriously!! The American schools my kids went to have been doing this for years. You can even log in using a password to check the role each day to make sure your kid is going to all their classes and turning up on time. We also have access to their progress in each subject which was updated every time an assignment was graded. If they didn’t hand something in we knew about it. We could also email teachers if we had any concerns about out children. None of this phoning the school leaving a message that no one would ever respond to. Yikes!!

        • Colleen – I agree about newsletters coming by e-mail, how easy that would be. Our high school does have the log on for attendance, subject selection and credits to date etc but the parents side of it seems a bit less straight forward to navigate than what I am used to compared to an e-commerce site. And because it was an assigned password combination of numbers and letters, I couldn’t remember it, so don’t use it.

          We can e-mail the teachers but they tend to ring back rather than write. Probably easier and quicker for them.

          But I would love newsletters and permission slips by e-mail!

        • Yay, my daughter starts high school next year, and my son starts a new primary school and they both send their weekly newsletters electronically!
          Plus, I just received my “No advertising material” sticker so hopefully no more pesky catalogues.
          Now, if I could only get my husband to stop saving every bloody broken item, now that we have a big shed. Before we had one he was an excellent declutterer, sigh.

        • It may be hard to believe, but households do exist that have no email or internet at all. Also, access can be temporarily suspended due to a broken computer or interrupted service. While going paperless would be lovely, I don’t believe it’s a realistic option at this point.

          • Hi Vivuan, I do realise that these households do exist and unfortunately the children of these households are already at a disadvantage and that is sad but a reality. Just as computers and the digital world in general are a reality right now. This doesn’t have to make the paper option unavailable. With digital the families would have to provide an email address in order to be able to send communications to them. Those who do not can be then on a list to receive paper communication. Even paper has its failure rate of not being handed on to the parents.

            My point was that there are many schools in “advanced” nations such as Australia who are not keeping up with the times. Mind you that may have something to do with a lack of funding due to the “must have a budget surplus” at all costs attitude. And that isn’t a dig to any particular political party as it seem to be a very important factor for all of them.

  9. I can definitely sympathize with this issue, however, it is not only my desk, but other areas that seem to be the landing zone for junk that does not belong to that particular space. For instance, my kids love to dump their stuff in the living room as soon as they enter the house after school. Another example, is having to remind people that the any clear kitchen counter area, does not make it fair game to put on it things that are not kitchen related. I need to tighten up the reins around here :).

    • Jen – I think the kitchen counter area is a universal problem area. I complain about it often but my husband tells me that it won’t get better until the kids leave home and then we’ll go and mess up their homes. He has says we will live on subway and turkish takeaway for six months so we don’t make any dishes.

  10. Maybe place a few of those sticky pads that are meant to discourage cats from jumping on the counter or couch. Might work for humans as well.

  11. A small change in topic but reporting in on my day. We have this room upstairs at work that is mostly a dumping zone of work equipment and cast off furniture that my eldest is collecting ahead of his leaving home, the girls ballet costumes and costume racks, financial records pre-digital archiving, my husband’s hydrogen experiment and a single bed that returns to our house for a particular guest (reasonably regular) who is wheel chair bound. Oh and mix in the last of the dirt bike gear, snowboards, diving gear, surf board and I tripped over a skate board too.

    I have made a couple of attempts on this room in the last year but the main problem is that it is freezing in winter and boiling hot in summer and the guys have a tendancy to just dump things in the first available clear space and run.

    The reason this room gets honorable mention today is that Adrian and I no longer need a scotch dresser in our WI wardrobe as it was half empty and inconvenient to get at, and as the Trademe market goes quiet from mid Dec to late Jan over here, it needed to “go” somewhere other than the middle of my bedroom and so Adrian brought it into work. Obviously there was no way it was going to make it into this room without a serious re-arrange. So today, the hottest, muggiest day so far this Summer I have spent the day amidst dust and pushing gridlocked furniture and equipment around. Could only manage a surface level declutter today as I need to return to my desk and do some ‘real’ work but there is a noticeable improvement already. Every now and then I’d need one of the guys to lift something particularly heavy and they’d shake their heads and say something really encouraging like “I wouldn’t be working up here in this heat” (its about 10 degrees hotter up there, no windows or ventilation).

    Realistically it is going to be my Jan-March project as Dayna and I are going to have a big sort out of costumes, sell on trademe what we can, but that market doesn’t really activate until late Feb, early March. At the end of March ie end of our financial year I can dump some more records and I’m going to chip away at the general flotsum and jetson on the shelves in the meantime.

    Short term, Adrian found a surf board that he no longer requires and the time is right to be selling that.

    • None of that sounds much like fun to me Moni. I am glad I have no extra stashing place anywhere. Especially not anywhere that is unbearably hot to work in. Our bedroom has a peaked ceiling and that gets hot enough. Luckily it has air-conditioning though. I am happy to say that this year we have only used it about twice though.

      Good luck selling the surfboard. At least that is one thing on its way.

  12. One of my kitchen counters needs that constant vigiliance. Some days I fail, others I win. But like you I keep at it.

    Oh no. You talked about photos. They’re my nemesis. I am ignoring them until I get the yarn under control 🙂

  13. Hi Colleen, Your eco tip for today made me smile as it made me think of my dad who always does this with the little ends of soap. He was a child in WW2 and well remembers rationing and shortages, and in our house when I was growing up every bar of soap had a little piece from the previous one stuck to it. My mother, who was very poor growing up, always would grumble that she could never have soaps that looked nice because of his habit. He still does this with soaps and now I always think of them both when I have those little soap ends. Maybe that’s why I like to use liquid soap …

    • Hi Christine I am glad to have brought back memories of your parents and your younger years. I don’t care what my soap looks like since it serves no other purpose but to wash with. Good on your dad for being so frugal. Tell him well done for me the next time you see him.