Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Motivation: How Do I Decide What To Keep And What To Throw Away

If you've been hanging around this ol' blog for awhile, you know that I love to clean out closets.  And as a Professional Organizer I love to help other people clean out their closets. 

Whenever I help clients work in their homes, I have to put myself in their shoes and remember that they most likely Do Not Like To Clean Out Closets.  That's why they need me.  And actually, I don't clean out their closet for them.  I coach them through it.  It is impossible to clean out a closet for someone and have the closet stay organized and customized for that particular individual. 

When I'm coaching clients through the purging part of cleaning out a closet, we invariably come across several items that are really tough to make a decision about.  That where gentle prodding, perspective checking, and sometimes, tough love comes in. If you're working through your closets as part of the Monday Motivation schedule, then I hope you'll find this list of questions helpful in making those decisions. 

As you pull items out of the closet, ask yourself these question:

1.   Have I worn this item in the past few years?  Set a time for yourself.  Some people say 6 months, some say 5 years.  I usually say 2 years and that works for me.  The reasoning is that if you haven't worn it in awhile then it's not one of your favorite things and you'll probably never wear it.  Give it away so someone can use it before it dry rots.

2.  Do I have multiples of this item?  How many white shirts do you have?  Stacy and Clinton of What Not To Wear fame also tell their clients to get rid of items that are of the same style but different colors because they are too similar and predictable. 

3.  Does this clothing item look good on me?  If you don't have a helper to give their opinion on the matter, then take a picture of yourself - the camera doesn't lie. Your closet should only contain what you love and what looks good on you. 

4.  Is the clothing item in style?  Several years ago I helped a client who had lost close to 60 pounds.  She was in fabulous shape.  When we went through her closet, she had a hard time getting rid of her "fat" clothes because she had paid so much money for them.  They were also 8 years old and terribly out of style.  With tough love I told her that her body was too fabulous to hide behind those awful, saggy clothes. Those clothes were her old life - not her new, healthy life.  She dumped them right in a bag and I whisked them off to the thrift store. 

5.  Do my shoes fit me?  Are they in good shape?  Really, life is too short to wear painful shoes.  They will eventually cause some harm to your feet. Only wear what makes you feel good.

6.  Do I have other clothing items to wear with this item?  Do you have clothes you've never worn because you don't have anything to wear it with?  It's time to let it go.

7.  Where will I wear this?  If you only imagine yourself wearing this clothing item for a fictictional occasion (like a hoped-for cruise or a in-your-dreams-hip-hop dance class) then it's time to let go of the dream and live in the present. 

8.  Is this item appropriate for me to wear?  Just because you can squeeze your body into something does not mean you should.  Just because you're 40 and you still have great looking legs doesn't mean you should wear the latest teen fashion.  Just because you can doesn't mean you should.  I know, I'm meddling now!

I hope you didn't mind this little bit of tough love!  It's all for a good cause. 

Next week's Monday Motivation will give tips on having a great yard sale!

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