2020 Final Countdown, Task One

Posted on December 29, 2020 by prairiemoonquilts in Challenges, Organizing, Studio Organizing Challenge

Well, here we go! Are you ready for Task One of this year’s Final Countdown? If you missed all the details from yesterday’s post, you can find them HERE. I hope you’ll join us.

Some years I take it kind of easy on us, some years I don’t. This year I’m not making it super easy, mainly because I need some tough love for my own sake. (Basically, I do the things I myself need to do, and just drag you all along with me. Thank you for joining me!)

Also, all of this year’s tasks are repeats from years past, but again — it’s because they really need to be, at least for me. If you’re like me, then you need them, too. And if you don’t, then I’m giving you an out by allowing you to pick your own tasks that fit your particular situation better.

Before we start, I want to let you know that I made a page for all the past Final Countdown tasks, so they’re all in one place, and easy for you to find. If you need to pick a task different than the one I’m handing out, you can look through past Final Countdown posts, and see if any of those tickle your fancy. You can find them all HERE.

And with that, let’s jump right in!

Our first task is:

Clear off your main work surface

I purposely avoided this one in last year’s Final Countdown, and altho I’ve offered it up during the Studio Organizing Challenges occasionally, it’s time to once again face the demon that is my cutting table, and go into the new year with it all cleaned off. I can’t remember the last time I had it clean and clear, but I sure want to have it that way again before the new year starts. It’ll make me feel so much better.

Here’s its current state:

I mentioned in the last couple of Studio Organizing Challenges that I had counted the projects on the cutting table, and the number is completely ridiculous. I’m planning to clear it off so that only 5 projects or less are on that surface. Wish me luck!

You can see that the mess spills over to the floor underneath, and beyond to the ironing board. And what you can’t see is the pile beside my sewing machine. And . . . there are some stacks of boxes and bins in the floor on the other side, too. I could say I simply need a bigger room, but what I really need is less stuff!

I know from past experience that I won’t be able to keep my cutting table cleared off for long, but I can again say I’d like to try. And if I succeed, no one will be more shocked than I!

If you had asked me last week if I made much progress in the past year on trying to get organized, I’d have snorted and said, “Nope!”, but thinking back and looking around, I realize I actually did pretty good.

There used to be boxes downstairs of things that needed to be in the studio. Those are all now upstairs, unpacked, and not only that, but the spare room I was chucking it all into is now only half as full as it was a year ago! That is seriously some major progress, so I feel like I need to give myself a little bit of credit for that.

But on the down side, I still have piles everywhere, and in all the cleaning I did, I found waaaaay more UFOs, fabric, scraps, and paper to deal with. And I did periodically deal with all of it on some level. Things have not gotten worse, but they’re still a long way from where I want them to be. Which is why I still get to do this Final Countdown every year!

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret wish/goal of mine, that I’ve been slowly working toward for the last couple years:

My main goal for my entire house is Clear Floors.

I want every single room in my house to have minimal items on the floor. Less furniture, no goo-gahs, no boxes, no stuff — clear, clean floors in every room. And then I want to buy a robot floor cleaner to keep them clean for me! That’s going to be my reward for finally reaching this goal. And to that end, I got rid of a LOT of stuff over the past year. I would love to repeat that again this coming year.

But I digress, because that has nothing to do with my cutting table, although my cutting table does continually prove my inability to keep surfaces clear, so the clear-floor thing may be a long time coming yet! Haha!

As I’m cleaning my cutting table off, here are some things I’ll be considering, so you can consider these same things for yourself, if they apply:

  • • Am I planning to work on this project anytime soon? Or should I put it away somewhere until I’m actually ready to work on it? And if I need to put it away, where am I putting it?
  • • Does this project have a deadline? Is it one that needs to stay out, front and center, and get worked on?
  • • Can this project be finished quickly, and moved on out, therefore, no longer taking up space anywhere? If so, can I do that soon, to have it off my plate, off my list, and off my cutting table?
  • • Is this a project I still want/need to do? Or should I analyze whether to keep it or get rid of it?
  • • Is there a problem with this project that is holding me back from finishing it? Can I address that problem now? Or do I need to put it away and deal with it later (not the best option, by the way)?

Here are links to past challenges where I’ve used this same task. If you need some more ideas and inspiration for what to do about your flat surfaces, or how to go about tackling this task, you could revisit some of these:

2010, Task Two

2014, Task One

2016, Task Two

2017, Task Two

2018, Task One

If nothing else, you can see the evolution of my cutting table messes over the last 12 years, and then wonder how there’s any hope for me this year, if nothing has ever worked in the past. Frankly, I’m surprised all my preaching on the subject hasn’t taken to my ownself a bit better by now! I’ll be using some of those ideas to help myself this time . . . again. Isn’t it high time I practice what I preach??

How about you? Over the years, have you finally worked out a system of keeping your main work surface clean? Or does a neat workspace still elude you, like it does me?

Is this a task you need to do, yet again? Do you think we can come up with a system for keeping it clean? I think that may be the hardest part. I get quite “involved” in my work — haha!

I’d love to hear from you in the comments, and remember, simply by leaving a comment, you’re eligible for the prizes when this is all over. There are usually some really good suggestions and ideas offered in the comments, so I’m excited to see how you’re all tackling this one.

And check back for Task Two tomorrow!

44 responses to “2020 Final Countdown, Task One”

  1. Amanda M. says:

    Surprisingly my cutting table isn’t that loaded currently. I do have a couple of large boxes that held new shoes in on it but I’m planning on moving those to have to put quilt blocks in when I know I’ll need a ton of blocks. On one end I do have a pile with a lot of scraps but I know there’s some yardage in there for a couple of panels that I aim to do the Attic Window thing to. Since Mother Nature decided to throw snow at us this will be the perfect project for today. It’s going to be interesting to see what else I find.

  2. mimisdarlins says:

    Ok, I’m going to reluctantly join in this year…because my dear friend Karen has talked me into it.
    I don’t think I want to take a ‘before’ pic of my cutting table….the actual working space has been shrinking until now it’s about 12″ x 12″. Since I’m making 6″ blocks there was no hurry in clearing it 🙂 But I’ll start working on it and will send you an ‘after’ pic.

  3. Amanda M. says:

    My cutting table isn’t too bad currently. I aim to clean it off on this snowy day. Although I think I know what all is in the pile at the end, I am not one hundred percent sure so I hope to find a few surprises.

  4. Deanna says:

    Done! Blog post showing progress will appear tomorrow. Thank you for the nudge!

  5. Debra Freese says:

    Took before pictures.
    Not too bad on my work table but in the background I see my sewing machine & cabinet. Oh boy, that’s what needs attention.

  6. Rose Marie Smith says:

    My cutting table doesn’t get nearly as cluttered as yours because it is in the bedroom where husband sleeps and I can’t let it get really unruly. (table, not hubby) But today I will clear it off and put away what is waffling around on it.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I need to do this task several (many) times during the year. Not being able to find something usually makes me tidy up. I am currently working on a scrappy string quilt and desperately need to organize the strips by color.

  8. Karen says:

    Love your idea of the robot floor cleaner! What a great incentive.
    My cutting table is pretty tidy, with just my latest project on it. I try to keep it that way, as it’s just a small drafting table; otherwise I’d have no space to cut. So I just looked at your past challenges and the very first one you posted in 2009, was to put the binding on a quilt. Well it just so happens that I have a very, very old UFO that needs that done, so I’ll do that. Thanks again for hosting this fun challenge for us!

  9. Suelynn Williams says:

    I’m glad to read what everyone has to say! My table is behind the Christmas tree – which means the tree is in the middle of the room. So…looks like two tasks await me. Happy New Year!

  10. Patricia says:

    My cutting place is a mess with paper, jelly rolls, part of a quilt I am almost finished,ect.

  11. candy says:

    Done – well I actually did this two days ago so I am going to claim it. I needed to see the surface and refold and put away what was there and I did. Always so nice to see it again.

  12. Fran says:

    Love task 1! My cutting table really needs cleaning as I am getting ready to cut out a quilt and with a clean cutting table, doing all that cutting will be fun. I am starting to clean it as soon as I send this. Thanks!!!

  13. Patricia says:

    I have a clean cutting area! It didn’t take long. I placed all the paper stuff in a large box and hope there will be a challenge to organized paper .
    How do I share my pictures?

  14. Jane Kennedy says:

    Hey, I found it! Also found three projects I’d like to keep track of because I’d really like to finish them. Everything is put back into place.

  15. Randy Menninghaus says:

    Done. One of my recent tricks ( which was partially due to my daughter lusting after my adjustable height fold in half table) was to lessen surfaces that I could pile on. It resulted in floor chaos. I have been working = on floors and storage. My current cutting table shares with my sewing machine and its extender table. 12 years huh? I think I am only 5 years into this. You have cause me to be a better cleaner up er.

  16. Cindy Wienstroer says:

    My cutting table is small so not too crowded – can finish it shortly this afternoon. My sewing area is clear so i can finish a top that is laid out on the guest bed. But my problem is my hanging rack. Will tackle it after finish trimming the blocks for the last row on the bed. Yeah – i got it done, except trimming scraps to sizes i can use. Stuff ready for my cousin (old batting & scraps for dog beds), quilts ready to be quilted, & Christmas fabric put away. Done 😄

  17. Kerry says:

    My cutting table has the mat removed, it has been turned around and lowered to take the weight of the quilt that I’ve had on it ready to quilt. It is basted and ready to go, but the Grinch wouldn’t let me. Oh . . . I was the Grinch! But now I’m raring to go. A nice day outside, lots of work done there and now it’s indoor time! Most things lying around have been stuffed in boxes ready to sort out. They are underneath the table out of the way! Quilting rulers are in a basket to the side of Jezebel and my Machingers are on the other side. Agent Peggy Carter’s cabinet has been moved to the side of my chair so that it can take the weight of the quilt there too. I have a plan!

  18. Kate says:

    I wanted to make a knit “cocoon style cardigan.” Using 60 inch fabric required the whole cutting table to be cleared. So it overflowed to another surface! Who cares? I live alone and no one complains except my internal critic (she can be irritating but I don’t always listen to her!)

  19. Stephanie says:

    I conquered my cutting table on a previous Final Countdown, and have managed to keep it that way. I used a tip in a book I read once, and made it a “forbidden surface”, nothing is allowed on it unless it is about to be either cut, or photographed.
    My floors need work – too much furniture, and too many boxes/tubs/containers. I love the idea of the robot vacuum cleaner!

  20. Pamela Avara says:

    This task didn’t take long as I got a new cutting mat over the weekend. This morning I made a wreath for Valentine’s Day (I’m a head of schedule!) which also required a clear table. Perhaps now I can knock out a few lingering BOM blocks.

  21. Joan says:

    What a challenge this will be… My space is small and in the kitchen, so I can when needed use the larger countertop for cutting bigger things. It’s nice having it there, as it’s handy for when I have a little free time, but the clutter has recently gotten out of control… So I off to work on this challenge.

  22. PAULA M M says:

    We have to have hope! It took me 41 years of marriage to finally get me to do the dishes every night! No matter what the last two years the dishes have been done, no matter the time, as long as it was done before I went to bed(not when I sometimes fall asleep in the chair and wake up at midnight!) Something just has to click, I use two areas- one not so bad as I was using it as a present wrapping area, the other was used at a mail drop staging area for miscellanies …. I will tackle that one..hahhaha

  23. christopher thomas says:

    well to say the least that my cutting table was clean, so i cleaned the floor that was in need of a good cleaning……i even pulled up the rugs and mopped the floor….just waiting for it to dry and put the rugs back down

  24. Kathi B says:

    My cutting table definitely needs to be cleared of clutter. I have a bad habit of piling stuff on the beds in the 2 spare bedrooms, then when the kids come home, that stuff goes back onto the cutting table until they leave. I need to ask myself those questions and find better places for stuff in progress.

  25. Candice says:

    I actually started working on clearing off my cutting table at the start of the month as Christmas loomed ever closer and , therefore, the need to get all the gifts made I hoped to. So, I bought a bunch of large ziplock bags and started putting all the scraps of fabric ( not yet used) into bags and left them on top of the project they were part of. So, on top of the completed blocks for my daughter’s Xmas quilt was a bag with all the remaining fabric and thread spools. This way, when I went to work I could select the project I felt like working on that day and everything was in one place/pile. This sure did speed up my efficiency in actually getting to work and not shuffling around looking for stuff. What I did today was buy a large SQUARE plastic tub to stand up the plastic bags in so that they are near my work space, but not sprawling all over the floor😊😊!

  26. Nancy Sinise says:

    Well, I cleared off the work table so I could wrap gifts. Does it count if most of it is in piles on the floor? Haha, guess I’ll work on the floor. Thanks for the push!

  27. Mary Delia says:

    Currently my cutting (and craft, etc) table is pretty cleared off only because I had a pre-Christmas project that made it necessary to clear off table. LOL – however everything around the table is piled high, so I’ll work on those surrounding areas.

  28. Tonia Johnson says:

    I am going g to be behind d this year. I always look forward to starting the new year fresh with your encouraging party. So tomorrow afternoon I WILL tackle the cutting table and th neighboring flat surface. Then I can sandwich and baste the two or more tops that have been stacked up for 3 years. That’s the UFO project for January. And the graduation quilt for next spring. Don’t we all hope to be at all the family milestone celebrations in 2021?

  29. Beverly says:

    I have started clearing off my table. It has accumulated many different things on it as I have been cleaning other areas and putting stuff on the tables I use for cutting. Hopefully I can finish in the morning.

  30. Darlene says:

    I only have a small corner to cut on so I totally need this. I like the idea of prioritizing the projects that may clear off a lot. It would be real nice to be able to use my whole 18 x 24 mat! I actually set up a folding table to finish up someChristmas projects so if I clean the cutting table can take down temporary before it to gets covered.

  31. Sharon Gratz says:

    Ok, the ‘main’ area is cleared off. Now to clear off a few other places. I want to reorganize a little so will see how all that goes. Looking forward to a new year.

  32. Shirley Guier says:

    I really need this one. It would only take me about a half hour to clean mine off but I haven’t done it for a while. I don’t have projects on it but it piles up with left overs from projects that are done and books and papers of new projects being born.

  33. Barb D. says:

    I’m getting dressed and getting in there…NOW!

  34. Elle says:

    How about you? Over the years, have you finally worked out a system of keeping your main work surface clean?

    Yes, my work surface is clean of all but the current project. How? My rulers hang on nails on the wall adjacent to where I cut. When I’m done cutting, the ruler goes right on that nail and the cutter is locked and goes under my sew steady table where it lives.
    Fabric I’m done with is refolded and reshelved right away. Any scrap larger than 5″ square is placed inside that fold and anything smaller is cut into it’s largest possible square/squares that I save: 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5 or a short 1.5″ strip for my Lego blocks Leader/Ender that has it’s own bag. Strings go straight into a box for my string loving friend. I have a lovely wicker basket under the cutting table that holds a medium flat rate box so the box is hidden but when stuffed I top it with a FQ or 2 or a yard of something and off it goes.

    The key to keeping the work surface ready for work, is that everything needs a home and is returned promptly. Everything I’ve described is just 1-3 steps away from where I stand to cut. Rulers to the right, stash behind me, string box at my feet and squares boxes 3 steps away in my bookcase. (I do stack squares in front and put them all in their boxes when that stack gets to topple state).

    Plan the work and work the plan. It will become second nature.

  35. Barb D. says:

    Done! That wasn’t too bad.

  36. Connie Francoeur says:

    I try to keep my cutting table straightened up at the end of each day, before I shut down for the evening. No, I’m not super organized, but this just seems to help me to be in the right frame of mind the next day when I start working again. However, my floors sure could use a good vacuuming to get all the stray threads cleaned up. And let’s not even talk about the rest of my studio or the rest of the house….

  37. Sandi says:

    I keep half of my cutting table somewhat cleared for cutting. The other half I need to work on. I know there are a couple bags with fabric and patterns that I want to make and quite a bit of papers and I don’t know what else. I’m going to try to get that cleaned off.

  38. Ok my cutting table is clear. Tick this one off but really it can’t count as I use the shop’s cutting table so I have to clear it for class use. So what I am going to do is clear my table by my chair in the lounge room. It has way too much on it.

  39. Task completed I cleared my table by my chair. I found four projects piled on top of each other. Lots of left overs from finished projects.There was 3 patterns I was looking at making but didn’t. I found a missing pair of scissor, 4 pencils, a packet of needles and a number of skiens of stranded cotton from a project finished. It is much nicer and I only left 2 projects for me to work on. One a binding job and my sashiko.

  40. My sweetie built me my cutting table and I love it but I cannot see it! Completely overtaken with wrapping fabric, scraps and tools. I will clean it off right now and get some pics before and after. What a great way to start the year!

  41. My sweetie built me my cutting table but I can’t find it!! Thanks for the push to unearth it from its bounds. Excavation will commence after coffee!

  42. Paula Mu in NE OH says:

    I have found it really helpful to clear off my sewing area which is 3 tables pushed together. I was in a funk and hadn’t been getting much done. This task really did result in my heading right into task two. Piles were created! I also did some rearranging of shelves in my sewing room as I cleared the table.

  43. Shelly I’m having issues with my website so I had to email you my Task 1 photos. If I’m lucky enough to have internet for a few minutes my emails and this post might go through 😒

  44. Johnna Clarke says:

    My craft room is the spare bedroom, so my cutting area is a mat on top of half an old door on top of the guest bed. The surrounding area was a mess, but now things are in bags or baskets.

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