6 steps to clean out your closet and live with only what is essential
If you live with only what is essential you will have more time to draw, write, play, sleep, think, read a book, and clean out litter boxes. I need more time, I have seven litter boxes.
Deciding what to wear and trying to find your socks in a messy closet wastes time, literally years of your life. All those hours spend standing in your closet in your underwear searching for your socks, or trying to make up your mind about what to wear, could be spent doing something you love.
Actually trying to find my hammer takes up more time than deciding what to wear.
Over the past three years I have tried to clean out my closet. But, so many of my clothes have stories behind them. The snow suit I wore in 1990 on a ski trip with a handsome officer in Japan who I had just met and who I will be married to for twenty-five years this year. And the cotton sweater that was a gift from my mother-in-law but it is stretched out of shape. Or the dress that is too small for me but was hand-made for me in Hong Kong.
I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t get rid of the snow-suit and sweater, my memory clothes, until I read the book, essentialism by Greg McKeown.
Take everything out of your closet, toss it into your bedroom on the floor.
Read the book essentialism by Greg McKeown.
“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”
― Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Now you are ready for step three. Leave the mess in your bedroom for about a week and dig through piles trying to find a clean pair of socks. Stare at the pile and then sit down beside it and mope for a day or two.
I will give you three days to feel sorry for yourself. Whine a bit, sigh, say out loud, “This is too hard. I can’t do this. I need to keep everything.”
Grab your copy of essentialism, lean against a pile of clothes and read the book.
Then go and look at the activity you really want to be spending your time on. Maybe it is your kids. Maybe it is drawing, or writing. I went and looked at my art studio. The place in the basement I paint. But I haven’t been painting because I spend most of my day trying to find a clean pair of socks because my closet is a mess, and I can’t find the clothes I like to wear because my shelves are cluttered with “memory clothes.”
Go and sit in your empty closet for a few hours. Maybe take a nap over the space heater on the floor. Then go and stand before your pile of clothes on the floor in your bedroom, say, “This is not too hard. I can do this. I do not need to keep everything.”
Start putting the clothes you haven’t worn in the last twenty years into a black garbage bag. Put in the dress that is made of 100% polyester that makes you sweat when you wear it. I know it cost you one hundred and twenty dollars. But you hate the color, so get rid of it.
Keep putting clothes in to bags that you haven’t worn in ten years, five years and in the last year. Then put the bags in the garage for a few weeks. Make a date on your calendar when you will take them to the thrift store.
Then only put back in your closet what you actually wear.
Ask this question about each garment, “Do I love it?”
In the middle of the night if you hear whining from the little black sweater in the garbage bag in the garage, “Please, please, give me one more chance. Don’t get rid of me.” Take the sweater out of the garbage bag and put it on your shelf. But if you don’t wear it again that year be firm with the sweater and donate it. “Sorry little black sweater, but you will have to go. I know there is someone out there who will love to have you.”
Walk into your closet and get dressed. You don’t have to waste time looking for your socks because you know where they are. You don’t have to waste time deciding what to wear because you only have your favorite clothes in your closet.
Now go and do something you love because you have more time in the day. Draw, write, play, sleep, think, read a book, or clean out the litter boxes.
Finish reading the book essentialism by Greg McKeown.
The snow suit and the cotton sweater have been donated to the thrift store. I kept the dress.
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About Pamela Hodges
I write slice of life stories to help you know you are loved, valuable and worthy just as you are. I am a writer, an artist, and a cleaner of seven litter boxes. I live in Pennsylvania with one husband, four cats, one dog and two birds.