Thursday, July 7, 2011

From Decluttering to Minimalizing

Over the weekend I tamed / thinned out / decluttered my closet by following my 5 Steps to Clearing Out Your Closet as posted last week and spent two days clearing things out.

Day 1: Everything Easy.  Old / Ill-Fitting / Ugly / Just-Don't-Like-It-Anymore clothing. I filled about 4 garbage bags.  Yes.  4! Full!

Day 2: The Hard Stuff. I decided to take my decluttering a step further into minimalist territory.  I asked myself what it was I truly need; how much clothing I have to have in my closet to be happy.  On day 2 I managed to get rid of:

6 dresses; 12 bottoms; 10 tops; 3 pairs of shoes; and 8 accessories. EVERYTHING IN THIS PICTURE! 
The bags I filled with donate/throw away clothing aren't pictured here, and I decided not to count those towards my total amount of stuff I managed to thin out.  Why? For me, this was more about learning to be happy with less, not getting rid of stuff I know I won't wear.

What I Learned:  

An interesting paradox:  Now that my closet has been slimmed down, I actually feel like I have more clothing options.  Getting dressed is so much easier when you can go to your closet and you love every piece, instead of being overwhelmed by underwhelming clothing.  It's as if the crap was totally blocking out all the great clothing I have.

So that's where my money goes: I need to start seriously thinking about what I'm buying before I throw money away.  I have a tendency to thrift shop, and this exercise made me realize I buy a lot of junky clothes.  Sure, that tee may only be $7, but I just threw away around 15 pieces of $5-10 clothing.   

Just when you think you're finished: The best decluttering doesn't happen in a day.  I cleaned my closet over the weekend, and this morning I went to my closet and found a few more things I could live without.  The best time to declutter is at the end of a season: if you didn't wear it that winter, time to move on.

I also read, "The Joy of Less" to motivate myself, I definitely recommend picking it up!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Can Decluttering Help you Lose Weight?

I came accross an interesting series of articles over at  In them, Peter Walsh explains how clearing clutter can help you lose weight

Of course, he isn't speaking literally.  Throwing out 10 pounds of stuff won't subtract the same amount from your butt (unfortunately).  Walsh notes that the reasons we accumulate clutter - such as emotional distress or trauma - are also often the reasons behind weight issues.  By tackling the issues that cause clutter, not just the clutter itself, we are facing our weight-loss issues.

This article highlights an interesting concept I have been thinking a lot about since I started this challenge... Clearing clutter requires more than just throwing things away.  If you don't deal with the issues that underlie your addiction to clutter, 6 months after your purge you will be right back where you started. 

It makes me wonder... where does my addiction to "things" come from, and how can I get over it?


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

5 Steps to Cleaning out your Closet

The Fasion Lovers Comprehensive 5 Step Guide to Getting the Most out of Your Closet
You know why Parisian women always look so good?
Small closets.
No room for crappy clothes.
I love clothes. I love, love, love them.  So naturally, I have a hard time pairing down my much loved clothing supply. 
I understand your pain.  I understand the difficulty of throwing things away. So we're going to do this together. 
Here are 5 easy (but not painless) steps for clearing out, decluttering, and getting the most from your closet.

Before you Begin:

Prepare your Space.  Make your bed so you can lay clothes flat on it.  Clean a space for you to put discarded clothes.  You'll be pulling a lot of clothes out, so it is imperative that you have a clean space to work in.  The tidier the battlefield the better.

Prepare Mentally. As with all decluttering, be merciless.  There is no room for sentimentality.  Be completely objective!  You are a machine. Robots have no sentimental attachment to clothes.  They feel no guilt about donating the awful sweater their robot-Aunt gave them 2 years ago.  Just like pulling off a band aid, the quicker you do it, the less painful it will be.

Prepare your Bins/Bags.
  • Consign/Give to Friends -  This bag should include all your nicest clothes. Tags still on? Great for consignment (or ebay).  Have something you love but can't bear to give up?  Pass it on to a friend.  That way, its still close to you, just not in your closet.  AND you can borrow it whenever you get a craving!  Giving much-loved clothes to a friend is a hundred times easier than giving them up altogether. Baby steps, right?
  • Donate - These are all the things that are in good enough shape for Goodwill, but not good enough shape to consign or give to friends.
  • Clothes for Tailoring/Fixing - Have a shirt that needs to be taken in or pants that need to be hemmed? Now's the time to do it.
  • Throw Away - Everything else.  
5 Steps to Cleaning out your Closet: For ultimate ease of cleaning, follow in order.

1. Clothes you just don't like. To get the ball moving, start with things you know you want to get rid of.  Don't skip over the sentimental things: ugly birthday presents, ex's old clothes, novelty tees, etc.  Divide (into bags) and conquer (the clutter). 

2. Clothes that do not fit you. Can any of them be tailored to fit?  If so, put in the appropriate bag. Get rid of all the rest.  I don't care if they are jeans you bought on sale and will look great when you lose/gain 5 lbs.  Get rid of them. Divide all those baggy sweaters, tight pants, and uncomfortable shoes between the appropriate bags, and move right along.  (Remember - be honest with yourself.  If you have to, try things on and give the article a good critical review in the mirror).   

3. Clothes that do not look great on you. Does that colour look awful on you? Skirt in a cute shape, but definitely not for your body? Get rid of it.  Keep only the things that make you look, and feel, great.

4. Clothes you haven't worn in a year. This is where I start to have some fun, and where the majority of your time can go.  Begin by asking yourself, "Why haven't I worn this?" Your answers will probably be:
  • It's ugly/It doesn't fit. This should have been dealt with in Step 1.  Get rid of it.
  • I have duplicates. You'll get more out of your clothes (and your closet) if you only have 1 or 2 of a specific item. Like me, are you the proud owner of 15 graphic tees? 5 white tank tops?  3 workout zip-ups? 12 pairs of bootcut jeans? Choose the high quality ones you really love, and then divide the chosen ones in half. 
  • I have nothing to wear it with. For example, you have a skirt you love, but never wear. Is it because you need a specific kind of shirt to go with it? You need a top that's fitted but all you have is flowey?  First, go through your existing clothes and look for something to wear the piece with.  Put that skirt on, and try on every top you have. Chances are, you'll find an outfit you didn't even know you had. If that doesn't work, start a clothes shopping list (you do it with groceries, why not clothes too?) so you can shop with specific pieces in mind. Stumped on what to wear it with? Simply type, "high waisted skirt" (or whatever it is you don't wear) into google images and get inspired.
  • It just doesn't "go." Do you have an overwhelming colour pallet in your closet? Most of my clothes are in fairly subdued colours, but occasionally I will go a bit nuts and buy something bright pink that doesn't go with any of my other clothes, and then I'll never wear it! Shocking. The same goes for pieces that just don't fit your style.  Are you a bit preppy, but have the odd bohemian bag or hipster hat?  These "just-don't-go" pieces, while probably very cute, are usually better off bid adieu. 
Go through each piece of haven't-worn-in-a-year clothing this way.  Keep only the things you truly have the intention of wearing again.

5. Clothes you love, but are tired.  This is my least favourite part.  We all have our favourite sweaters, jeans, or shoes.  We love them so much, we wear them all the time.  And its because of our love that they are piling, they are stretched, they have holes in them.  And its time to let them go.  Remember: getting rid of old clothes makes room for new ones!

  • Don't forget to do jewelry, belts, scarves, shoes, socks, underwear, and bras! 
  • This is VERY important: Do NOT go through the bags again! You've heard of shoppers remorse? Declutterer's remorse is much, much worse.  Once its in the bag, say farewell.

Need some extra help?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How I Conquered my Bathroom Clutter

Bring it on, bathroom clutter.

I followed the tips I laid out in my Bathroom Clutter post and the strategies in my Goal Achieving Action Plan I created at beginning of this challenge. 

Read on to see how I fared!