POSTED IN: Life & Love
December 28, 2012

Disaster Clean Up - Life of Elle CalgaryLife & Love

Crisis: Disaster
Clean Up

An Office in Ruins from the Lifestyle of an On-The-Go Girl

It’s been an exciting, adventure filled year of fashion, food, people, and geek obsessions. Unfortunately, the result of having so many projects and so little time is a disastrously messy office.

I am a huge procrastinator when it comes to cleaning. I’m even worse at keeping things organized – mostly because “organization” to me means making piles of loosely related objects. Eventually, my office becomes one giant pile of “Everything Elle”.

I wanted to start 2013 with a beautiful, fresh office, but the vision seemed impossible. There was just too much stuff and nowhere to put anything!

No more excuses! I wanted to see my office floor again! So, I grabbed a box of garbage bags and dived into the treacherous task of cleaning up my office.

Throw Out the Obvious

If you are like me, about 30% to 40% of the mess is just garbage – used, empty mailing boxes from online purchases, broken flower pots, failed pattern drafts, ripped up tissue paper, Cadbury Creme Egg wrappers, broken cellphone covers, old wrapping paper, empty shopping bags, etc. All of these items are obviously things you can throw away/recycle without any guilt.

I picked the cleanest corner and pushed the mess as far away from this corner as I can. Then, I picked an adjacent corner and start sorting through the mess. I threw all the obvious garbage/recycling into the appropriate bags and tossed everything else into the clean corner.

Yes, I understand I’m just moving the mess around my office, but after the sorting, my office was 30% to 40% cleaner – NO MORE OBVIOUS GARBAGE!

I was finally able to see the plush carpet of my office!

Disaster Cleanup - Life of Elle Calgary


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Disaster Clean Up - Life of Elle CalgaryI have a lot of stuff … so much stuff from all kinds of hobbies. So, cleaning up a big, messy pile was very challenging. The more I stared at the giant pile, the more I wanted to walk away and pretend the mess didn’t exist.

I attacked this problem the same way I approach my work issues – break down the issue into smaller, more manageable tasks. To start the organization process, I headed over to Dollarama.

I purchased 9 small, white bins. They were the perfect size for my bookcase. Instead of piling boxes on top of each other, I can pop one container into each compartment of my bookcase. The handles make it easy for me to pop them in and out my bookcase, and I don’t have to worry about playing Jenga with a tower of boxes whenever I’m looking for something specific.

With the help of these boxes and two larger fabric containers, I divided my enormous mess into 11 little piles and 1 big pile (mostly clothes, books, electronics, and fabrics).

Organizing clothes, books, and fabrics was easy. I threw all the dirty clothing down the laundry shoot; I organized the books by type and size and stored them on my tall bookshelf; I emptied out the top of my closet, folded the fabrics, and neatly piled them onto the closet shelves.

I will probably need to organize the fabric section again. I can tell right away that the pile method is not going to work – if I grab a cloth from the bottom, the whole pile would come tumbling down. Hanging the fabrics on pants hangers would be more ideal. When I get to clothing clean up, I’ll can make more space on the rack for the fabrics.


I tend to buy a lot of super discounted printed fabrics from Fabricland, but I don’t have specific ideas for them at the time. Unfortunately, this leads to a huge pile up of messy fabrics taking up usable space in my closet. So, last year I purchased a huge wooden chest from The Real Canadian Superstore. It takes up a little over half of the closet floor space and I can easily hide two of me inside. I stuffed all the fabrics, design patterns, and sewing notions that didn’t belong to any current sewing projects into the chest and that cleared up about 75% of the closet space. Yay!!

Since I open up the chest so infrequently, I was able to place a large bin of random things, my electronic foot bath, and my sewing tool kit on top – saving even more floor space!

After optimizing space in my closet, I realized that I could do the same to my bookshelf by installing another shelf board. Lucky for me, I have a talented handyman who woodworked me a new shelf board. So, I purchased a 4 pk of 5mm white shelf brackets from Lowe’s for $2 CAD, and now I have a space that is perfect for all my CDs.

Disaster Clean up - Life of Elle CalgaryDisaster Clean Up - Life of Elle Calgary

It’s true – A Clean office does reduce stress and increase motivation.

My other obsession that eats up all my office space is my handbag collection. I love, love, LOVE handbags and can easily cover my office floor with sparkling clutches, chic shoulder bags, and stylish totes! How can I showcase my love without creating a sea of tripping hazards?!

Disaster Clean Up - Life of Elle Calgary

Thanks to 3M and velcro strips from Wal-mart, I was able to create a purse wall! Mind you, I’ve only been able to put up a little less than half of my purses up, but every little bit helps! I hang the purses high so they are out of the way when walking around my desk. I can also double up the small bags on one hook!

Now it’s easy for me to find the right purse for my daily outfit.

One step at a Time

Now that the mess is sorted out into little compartments, the disaster no longer feels overwhelming! The office floor is finally clear – no danger of breaking delicate treasures with missteps or injuring myself by tripping over misplaced items. Although each section of my shelf is messy, I can deal with each section at my own pace without having it interfere with my everyday work routine.

So over the course of two week, I was able to sort through each compartment stress-free and continue working without worrying about creating more of a mess. Slowly, the office became less of an embarrassment and more of a neatly organized, happily decorated office.

There was so much space leftover from after the clean up that I was able to move in a super comfy lounge chair and two side tables! Super love!

Disaster Clean Up - Life of Elle Calgary


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One thought on “Disaster Clean Up – Elle’s Office

  1. odessa says:

    Happy new year elle! what a fun read 🙂

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