2016 Final Countdown, Task Two

Posted on December 30, 2016 by prairiemoonquilts in Challenges, Studio Organizing Challenge

How did you do yesterday? Are you still working on your stash?

I am. I’m working on scraps daily, and will be for awhile.

The sad thing is, I keep finding big pieces among the scraps that should go into the bins, but the bins are all full, so I have an overflow box for right now. That’s one of my first big goals: to not have to have that overflow box any more.

I’ve also cut out three quilts in the last four days, just to try to use some of it up. Now to find that extra sewing time — because until I get it made into quilts, it’s still just fabric laying around!

But now it’s time for our second task of the Final Countdown. Today we’re going to:

Tackle all the flat surfaces

I have two flat surfaces that are major catch-alls. One is the cutting table in my sewing room:

I’ve been showing you a weekly shot of this surface, and it’s slowly getting better, even if you can’t tell it from this current picture, taken this morning. I still have a lot of work to do. It still just looks like a garbage heap.

The other is the mailing counter in my office, which is also where I do some of my art, and if I need a large area to spread out and work (say, for planning projects or designing), this is where that happens:

Or NOT, as the case looks to be right now!

It’s supposed to look like this, but the aftermath of a crazy year has taken its toll:

My goal is to get both of these surfaces completely cleared off and set up for maximum productivity going into 2017. I will feel so much better.

Do you have any flat surfaces that seem to catch anything and everything that you either don’t have time to deal with, or don’t know what to do with?

The trick to clearing these surfaces is not to just move the piles elsewhere, but to deal with the stuff that is in the piles. Throw it away, put it away, give it away, send it where it’s supposed to go, use it up, or find a spot for it if it’s something you need to keep or use. Don’t just move it somewhere else where you’ll only have another mess, or still have to deal with it later. (I’m really good at that! It needs to stop.)

I have cleaned both of these surfaces, but they always return to the same kind of mess in record time. I need to clear them once and for all, and come up with a system for keeping them clear.

So here are my goals going forward:
1) Clear these two surfaces off by dealing with the things that are on them, and not just moving them elsewhere to have to be dealt with later.
2) Keep the surfaces clear every day from now on. I’m going to try to follow my friend, Barb’s, advice, and clean it off every night when I’m done working for the day. It will be so refreshing to walk in every morning to a nice clean table!

Here are some tips for getting them clear (and trust me, I desperately need to practice what I preach here):

  • As you handle each item on the surface, decide immediately what needs to be done with it (this is very difficult for me — it involves decision-making!) and do that thing.
  • If it’s something that can’t be done right away, put it in a place where you can find it again easily, and put the task on your to-do list so you don’t just let it slip from your mind again. I made a box for this, and my goal is to empty the box very soon, and not even need the box any more. I’ll have a system for dealing with this type of thing, instead of letting it pile up and cause me issues.
  • If it’s something that simply needs to be put away, go put it away. If it doesn’t have a spot, make a spot for it, or decide on a spot for it, and put it there. Start a give-away box if you need to. Keep a trash can handy.
  • In the case of projects on your cutting table, pick one or two that you are working on now, and put the rest away neatly, in project bags or bins, with all their related pieces and parts. I have to continually remind myself that I can’t possibly work on 10 projects all at once, so all the others are simply in my way while I’m working on the one or two I’m actually giving my attention to. I do keep several projects in various stages of construction based on what I can do with the time I have available at any given moment. For instance, I can cut pieces for a quilt if I wear my headset while I’m on the phone, and still be getting something accomplished while I’m jabbering. If there’s only 15 minutes left until I have to go outside to do chores, I can sew a few pieces together at my sewing machine and have them ready to press later. I get so many interruptions during the course of a day, I have to make use of any little chunk of time to keep things moving forward.
  • If you’re worried about things being “out of sight, out of mind”, which can sometimes be an issue for me, be sure to put them on a list. I review all my lists regularly, so having it on one of my lists will still remind me that it needs doing, even if it’s not laying out in front of my eyes at the moment. If I’m afraid I’ll forget where I put it, I make note of where I put it on the list as well. That way I don’t spend too much time looking for something because I put it “somewhere safe”. (Frankly, this still happens way too much, but I’m hoping I get better at this in 2017.)

So what are your plans for your flat surfaces?

Which flat surface seems to cause your biggest problems?

How will you be dealing with this going forward?

Or are you already like my friend, Barb, and you do this every day? This is the person I want to be!

What about you? What will this task make you look at and change, if anything?

I can’t wait to hear your plans and ideas!

We’ll have one more task tomorrow, so be sure to check back in!

23 responses to “2016 Final Countdown, Task Two”

  1. Kathi Benchley says:

    I am still working on my stash, got quite a bit of it organized yesterday. My cutting table only has 1 project on it at the momemt (which is unusual).
    Right now the worst flat area is my desk in my home office. I can’t see it! When cleaning for the holidays, I piled everything on the desk to deal with “later “. I guess that “later” is now!

  2. Pam in KC says:

    Oh good! I need to do this before I can do Task 1!

  3. Meloney says:

    I hate flat surfaces.
    I’ll try the end of day option, but first they have to be clear and have homes for everything.
    https://melsquiltingblog.blogspot.com/2016/12/final-countdown-task-two.html
    The link shows you all the mess that I’m living in.
    Thanks for this crazy task. LOL

  4. Liz says:

    I have a few flat surfaces I really need to clean off. Yesterday I did manage to cut a project out and cleared off one of my cutting table. I am training myself to clean area before moving on.

    The worst flat area is my office desk. *ugh*

    After this post, I am going to tackle desk. I have one hour to do it then off to take my DF to town for grocery shopping.

    Thanks for this task! Cannot wait for tomorrow’s task! (=

  5. T Johnaon says:

    Honest Confession time: I tried to implement yesterdays lofty ambitions. Reality check folks! So–first before I trim into sizes-I plan to sort as to color as I sort through my “memory lane!” I want to do some flat surface stuff; BUT what really stood out today as an important TO DO was a notebook or planning sheet of sorts (hope I don’t jump ahead of the plan!) to clear.So what are your plans for your flat surfaces? PUT THINGS AWAY DAILY.
    Which flat surface seems to cause your biggest problems? any flat surface..area under the cutting table is my biggest nemesis.
    How will you be dealing with this going forward? MAKE A DECISION, PUT IT AWAY N O W!
    10 Minutes before quitting time I will chuck out a “hot spot” Do you follow FlyLady.net?

  6. Pat Mac says:

    I’m ahead of the game on both tasks as I had to organize my sewing before Christmas. Family was here and my sewing room is visible from the LR. The only thing on my cutting table is the latest step in the Bonnie Hunter mystery. My fabric is neatly stacked on shelves by color all folded the same way. I took Lois Hallock’s class on organizing your quilting space a couple of years ago. It made a lasting impression. I am currently working on my intentions for the new year. Happy quilting.

  7. Kathy Fraser says:

    Like I said I did that for 3 days this week. I am finishing up a quilt and should be totally done tonight. It is my Pot holder quilt bed runner. IT contains 52 blocks. When I get done tonight it will be ALL done. Phew!. I just had to get this quilt done before 2017.
    Keep on plugging away girl and you will get it all done. Just clean up each night and you will get in the habit and do it automaticly.

  8. Wendy says:

    So, yesterday I said I had my stash fairly well under control, so I spent the day cleaning up after the projects I had been working on. Then I cleaned off my sewing table surface and the dresser top where I was piling everything. It looks pretty good now, except for the one corner. I need to deal with that corner. Maybe later.

  9. Deanna says:

    My flat surfaces are pretty good. It helps that my rooms doesn’t have many of them–I have to do much of my cutting on top of the washing machine. Not making that up. I’ll think about it and find something to work on…maybe my kitchen pantry. Would that count?

  10. Darlene says:

    I guess I started backwards, I started trying to clean the flat surface which led to putting quite a few things away. I still haven’t got through it all but have made a dent!! Will keep at it over the next few days. I like your idea of cleaning it off the end of every night so you can start w/clean surface next time Goal for 2017…..

  11. Stephanie says:

    I will admit to Flat-Surface-itis. Magical Magnetic attraction for everything! The worst is my home office desk, which is where everything that doesn’t have a home seems to end up. I need to work on making proper homes for things, so that will be my task.
    My cutting table is pretty good, there is sometimes a little pile at the end, but I keep that pretty much ok.
    Re Task 1 – I will be working on that one for the rest of my Life!

  12. Donna says:

    Cleaned off my cutting surface, but I still have lots of sorting fabrics by color.
    It is so fun to see all the gorgeous fabric tucked away. It is good to get in the back corners of the fabric cupboard and rediscover forgotten fabrics.

  13. Mary C says:

    I have a table behind my sewing machine that is my catch all space. I try to make sure I clean it off at the end of each project…but sometimes projects take weeks to finish. I am going to make an effort to clean the table at the end of each sewing session. Right now, it is clear as I just put away all the Christmas overflow.

  14. I’m tackling my flat surfaces which are cover with – you guessed it – fabric and scraps. Off to set the clock for 22 minutes of scraping off those flat surfaces. Good luck with yours,

  15. Swooze says:

    I had setup my ironing board outside my sewing room and it became piled high because of my transition into my stash room. I cleaned it off tonight. My next biggest flat space is my sewing room floor. It kind of ebbs and flows but I’m getting my overflow slowly moved into my stash room.

  16. Hope says:

    Hi Shelley! I’ve been working to get my sewing room under control and feel these things are working for me (although the struggle is always real! Lol)
    1) organized all my fabric b color in flat bins as you show; (best idea ever)
    2) eliminated nearly all my UFOs–
    I finished the important ones,
    made some into something else,
    cut them into smaller projects,
    gave some away,
    threw others out– very freeing!
    3) Keep two bins near my cutting table– one for scraps, and one for fabric to be returned and filed every couple of days
    4) allow controlled piles ONLY on ONE table
    5) allow NO piles on my cutting table (this is hard!)
    I think I will join your block challenge this year! I am ramping up my charity blocks and quilts. I was already making them for our church group, and now our guild has been doing some, too.
    My quilting is MUCH less complex and less involved than yours. I admire your accomplishments so much!

  17. randy says:

    TAsk #2 I had three people over to quilt and so I had cleared all my surfaces. However I have bull dozed. I agree. I have too many on going projects out merging with each other.

    Task one… made head way than stopped to sew. lol Still working on it.

  18. Sue Hook says:

    I looked at one of my flat surfaces, shook my head and walked away – maybe tomorrow I did clean up a few things on my sewing table but a tackled a flat surface – the floor under my cutting table. I have a couple of wicker baskets under there that is a catch all and some shopping bags from shopping that I haven’t even emptied for a few shopping trips. (No telling when those trips were but that is a story for a different day). I straightened it all up and put away several things – oh and cut out another quilt. It looks great now.

    Thanks Shelly

  19. Louise says:

    My cutting table is more of a catch-all than a cutting table. Many times, I just throw all the stuff on the floor so that I can cut. Or, even worse, sometimes I just leave it all there and go cut on the counter in the laundry room. My goal for this year is to see the top of the cutting table at all times (except when I am actively cutting a new quilt).

  20. Barbara says:

    My flat surfaces are in good shape. This is one area that I stay on top of. Don’t like to have to make space for a new project if I am ready to go so I clear off daily unless I am in the middle of a large project.

  21. katie z. says:

    My kids help me with clearing surfaces (ha!) so I have to put things away immediately except for the cutting board. I do have a rolling cart has become a catch-all, so I cleaned two shelves of it!

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