Monday, November 29, 2010

simplifying ...

I've mentioned my OCD tendencies one or twice or a thousand times. I don't like clutter. Or excess. Or disorder. Or unfinished projects. Or spontaneity. I am far less stressed when there is structure and schedules and I know what to expect. You might say that I am lack excitement or I am boring, but I like to think of myself as well-prepared and task-oriented. It works for me. And it seems to work for my family. And recently, I have noticed that being slightly OCD can help me simplify my life.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a purger. I have no problem getting rid of the things that have lost their purpose in my life. Old clothes that don't fit, items that I no longer use. I have never really felt the need to hold on to something because I might need it some day or because I associated it to a memory I have.

Recently, I stumbled across THIS blog post and I thought it was an interesting concept. The post sets a challenge to the reader to limit their wardrobe to 33 pieces for three months. Ultimately, the project is intended to show you that you can live with less, something I think most people can benefit from.

So, I decided to accept the challenge with a few modifications.

1. My challenge was not going to last three months. It was going to be a permanent change. Anything that left, was NEVER coming back. And anything that comes in new, MUST replace another item, not "rebuild" my wardrobe.

2. My challenge limited my wardrobe to 35 items, all which have year-round versatility. Items that don't count in the 35 items are wedding ring, underwear, sleep, in-home lounge wear, and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout). In addition to these items, which were part of the original challenge, I also didn't include my 10 pairs of shoes (which include three pairs of running shoes currently in rotation) and accessories (i.e. my watch, my necklace and my RoadID).

And that was it. I cleared my closet and my dresser. I kept only the things that I LOVE and that FIT me properly. The rest was donated.

That was one month ago. And do you know what? I haven't missed a single item that I got rid of. I never wanted to wear something that wasn't there and I never second guessed something I kept. (It's worked out so well that I am planning on reducing my daughters' wardrobes to 35 items as well).

Plus, the challenge has come with added benefits.

  • My laundry load has become lighter.
  • I can ALWAYS find exactly what I am looking for.
  • I don't stress about which outfit I am going to wear. There aren't enough options for that.
  • Simplifying my wardrobe has motivated me to simplify other areas of my life. I've been clearing out the excess in all areas of our life, creating more space/better space management.
  • Eliminating the excess items has also pushed me to cut back on the "time-suckers" (i.e. Facebook, blogging, my BlackBerry). I am trying to have a few "unplugged" hours each day. Over the Thanksgiving weekend (Thursday - Sunday), I did my best to avoid "time-suckers" all together. I left my phone at home when I went out. I didn't touch the computer. Instead, I spent time with my family and friends without the interference.
  • We are managing our finances better. Eliminating the "need" for excess items has curtailed our spending and is allowing us to pay off our debts. We are more thoughtful with how we spend and we have axed our credit cards, hopefully FOREVER.
Honestly, I have yet to see a negative side to this simplicity. I only wonder why I waited so long to do it ...

37 comments:

Karen said...

You are singing my song! I have recognized that I need to simplify for the past few months but just just can't seem to do it. Mostly a time issue (although I seem to have PLENTY of time to scroll through facebook!). I find that I pretty much wear the same few things all the time anyhow. As for unplugging from the time suckers - amen to that too - you must have been reading my mind today!

TNTcoach Ken said...

LOL, I love the 'time-suckers'. I too unplugged over the holiday weekend. I need to downsize my closet.

Karen said...

What a neat concept! I like it! :0)

Abby said...

I can totally relate. I love to purge and I only keep things that I USE on a regular basis. It makes things so much easier. I also stayed off the computer Thurs thru Sat. and haven't looked at my phone in a few days, I'm kind of scared to look now,lol! Have a great week!

MCM Mama said...

I unplugged for a full 48 hours this weekend. It was heaven. I'm actually trying to scale back on all things internet.

I preach the "reduce" theory over at my Metro DC Mom blog. That's been my goal for all of 2010 - if I buy something, it needs to be replacing something. And not everything needs replacing. I'm putting out 5! boxes of stuff for donation today. BTW, if you'd like to guest blog over there about the cutting back, let me know.

Silly Girl Running said...

That is actually a fantastic idea! Since I have to dress smart for my job, I'm not sure though, whether I'd get away with wearing only 35 items...

(Just) Trying is for Little Girls said...

I think it would be harder if I had a "real" job where I couldn't where jeans every day. I admire you for pulling this off!

Kovas Palubinskas said...

When I was single, I could definitely do this, but with 4 kids and a non-obsessive wife, our house is non-stop clutter. :)

5 Miles 2 Empty said...

Sounds scary!!! =) Just kidding! I cut my wardobe by like 75% when we move to WA. We downsized about 1000 square foot and my closet was so tiny! I had no room for all the extra and ended up donating it! And I never missed any of that either! It actually made me feel lighter and better to have less crap! Maybe it is time to go through the closet again!

Julie said...

Great ideas. I've read a couple of books on simple living and it just makes so much sense...and makes me so much happier. I'm still a huge work in progress, but like you...I'm having a hard time finding a negative side. I think it's awesome stuff to teach our children as well. And...it makes my frugal and non-cluttered man ecstatic ;-)

Great post!

Staci Dombroski said...

Great post! I should show this to my husband since he needs a little help purging his closet!!

shannon said...

Simplifying, ... great idea! I'm usually in the "complicating" mode. I try to accomplish an unreasonable list of tasks in too short of a time period. And my closet, ... my simplifying consists of getting a cardboard box and packing a bunch of stuff in it, then putting the box downstairs. Out of sight, out of mind. :)

Running Diva Mom said...

Holy smokes, Tonia -- love this post!! This is what I've been wanting to do (and have been doing little by little). You're pushing me to just DO IT. Simplify. Thank you!

Runners Fuel said...

I also love schedules and planning everything. My hubby hates that! Good luck.

Shellyrm said...

Hubbs had me purging just yesterday. It was painful.
It's something I want to do more of but I require baby steps and work arounds. Like, my race tees. I can't give them away or throw them out so I am having a quilt made of some of them. And items with emotional attachments I have tried taking pictures of things, keeping only one of something and donating the rest.
But 35 items in my wardrobe? Wow. I bet I only wear less than that (workout clothes discounted) but to actually donate the rest. I would love the extra room but....I think I lack the courage and time to do it.
How long did it take you to clear your closets?

Pretend this is real said...

What a cool idea! We could all benefit from that idea.

Earth Momma Mer said...

Yeeeaaaahhh! I *heart* this post! Did you hear that the next 333 project IS related to workout clothes? That's where you are in trouble, T! Get ready!

Julie @ Hotlegs Runner said...

When I was reading the first paragraph of this post, I actually thought you were writing about me! hahaha! I love it! I'm gonna check this site too and I wanna see if I can do it. =) Thanks for sharing!

Jess @ Blonde Ponytail said...

Wow! I love de-cluttering!!! Does your 35 also include running gear? Or, just your "grown-up" clothes?

what a fab idea!!!

Pam said...

I've been doing a little bit of simplifying too, but nothing to this degree!

Last Monday I took two huge boxes to the Salvation Army. Mostly clothes that I was just sick of looking at. I made myself a vow then that I would do that every so often--get rid of things that I hadn't worn or was just tired of--and that I would NOT replace them until I just completely run out of options. And I even made it through Black Friday and stuck to my guns? That awesome hoodie at American Eagle for ony $19? I didn't buy it. I've been obsessing over it all weekend, but I didn't buy the dang thing.

I really wish I'd bought it.

Marlene said...

35 items... wow... at first, this seems like it would be IMPOSSIBLE but you know what? I probably only have about 20 pieces that I wear and love. Good for you overhauling the wardrobe and SIMPLIFYING! I love it.

runninglawyer said...

I love that idea, although I feel I'd never be able to do it! Care to share photos? I'd love to see what items you kept, and know how you kept enough work appropriate items to go along with the more casual clothing.

Congrats!

Julie D. said...

i think it is awesome!! you should post your 35 pieces! :) Life definitely could use some simplifying over here as well.

Lesley @ racingitoff.com said...

Wow, this is awesome... I'm a purger too... but not nearly to that extent. I never hold on to stuff I "might" use and I don't attach sentimental value to "things", but I have trouble getting rid of things that cost a lot of money and are just sitting unused... ugh, wasted money stinks!

Colleen said...

Huh... very interesting! I'd love to see the 35 pieces that you chose! :) Kuddos to you!

Jen said...

Wow.... what a challenge... I am going to have to think about this. I still have my size 10 clothing.... ugh, what if I gain weight? I'm currently a 4.

Melissa said...

What a great idea. Now, if you decide to start purging socks or skirts, you'd better let me know!

Joggin' Momma said...

I felt like I was reading an autobiography when I read this post...you sound SO much like me! I too hate clutter, too much stuff, etc. and I purge my wardrobe at least three times a year. I haven't done the 33-35 items thing yet...that may be an interesting idea though...thanks for this post!

MomRunningFromCancer said...

Oh my gosh - that is a great idea! I love the idea of Simplifying - that was one of my goals for this year . . . and something that I know I will spend the rest of my life working on. I would love to reduce my wardrobe - but don't think I could get down to 33 items. Honestly I don't think I would want to. But I know I can reduce things - heck I think that I have 8 or 9 pairs of black pants. Yikes!

Anabela (Bela) Neves said...

OMG I don't think I could do 35 items but I completely hear you on the need to simplify. Good job

Cynthia O'H said...

I know I can live out of my laundry basket. One of the problems with our economy is over-indulgence; we feel we need more so we spend what we shouldn't. I know I'm guilty of it.
Great post.

Katie A. said...

I love to purge things. And it drives my hubbs nuts. I have to admit, there have been times I have thrown something away, only to need it 6 months later and have to buy it agian ;)
But my rule is, if you haven't touched it, worn it, thought about it, seen it or used it in 6 months, out it goes! We also don't use credit cards. That was a very freeing thing. Don't get me wrong, we still have them for emergencies, but they are just not used very often. Freedom in your finances is awesome.
Good work gilie - we are so much alike!

trifitmom said...

i just read about the blog sharing of the book racing weight...i want in !!!

Amanda - RunToTheFinish said...

probably 8 years ago, I started really pairing down my closet. If I haven't worn it in a year, it goes to donation... gets a hole, time to go. I am also very selective now about what I add. Sometimes I miss the bigger wardrobe, not usually because I wasn't wearing it all anyways!

Wifey said...

OK, you are officially my new idol. LOL! Ooh, I'm so tempted to try this. Purging is hard for me. GASP!

Winks & Smiles,
Wifey

Laura said...

I LOVE THIS! I'm in this mode right now. I already did the first sweep of the house... ONE WHOLE car load later... next sweep.. huge pile of stuff on the curb for donation service to pick up, next sweep leaving the house tomorrow... another curbside donation pick up. I really didn't think we had A LOT of stuff before.. but clearly we did. I went all the way down to old photos / cds / videos... it's ALL GOING!

Next up starting top to bottom to get all the stragglers. I'm working on our room now... I think I'll go for this 35 items (w/ all your same exceptions) for my closet. LOVE IT!

How's your daughter feel about purging her closet? I need to do that for my 4 year olds!!!

Kelley said...

Interesting all the trickle down effects your decision to simply has caused. You have such a positive attitude about it all that I'm sure it helps too.