#399 Gutting Your Office with Cheri Gregory Part 1

#399 Gutting Your Office with Cheri Gregory Part 1

Kathi chats with her friend and co-author for Overwhelmed and You Don’t Have to Try So Hard, Cheri Gregory. Today they venture into the office where the hidden shrines reside and keep us from progressing in our work.

Today you will learn:

  • About the items we keep that become the shrines that define us.
  • How to overcome the shame that traps those items in our office.
  • How to release the fear of letting go and claim the woman you are today.

Clutter-Free Home

Are you longing for a place of peace from which you can love others well? The Clutter-Free Home: Making Room for Your Life is your room-by-room guide to decluttering, reclaiming, and celebrating every space of your home.

In The Clutter-Free Home, you’ll walk through each room of your house to create organizational zones that are not only functional and practical but create places of peace that reflect your personality.  Kathi will help you tackle the four-step process to reveal the home you’ve always dreamed of, and then transform it into a haven that reflects who you truly are meant to be.

Order your copy of The Clutter-Free Home on Amazon today.

Links and Resources

Learn more about Clutter Free for Life.

Writing At The Red House

Overwhelmed

You Don’t Have to Try So Hard

Cure for the Perfect Life

Exhale

Sensitive & Strong

Michele Cushatt

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Meet Our Guest

Cheri Gregory

Cheri Gregory

Speaker, Author

Cheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes and speaks from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.” Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of You Don’t Have to Try So Hard and Overwhelmed. Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-eight years, and is “Mom” to Annemarie (25) and Jonathon (23), also opposite personalities. Cheri blogs about perfectionism, people-pleasing, highly sensitive people, and hope at www.cherigregory.com.

Transcript

Read along with the Podcast!

 

Clutter Free Academy Podcast #399

 

Gutting Your Office

 

 

<<intro music>>

 

Kathi – Well, hey friends. Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small, doable steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. I am excited today, because we’re going to talk about something I normally don’t recommend, but there are certain circumstances, where people need to be given a pass. One of those people who got a pass is Cheri Gregory, my co-author for Overwhelmed, I was going to say Cure for the Perfect Life, which it was, but now it’s You Don’t Have to Try So Hard. My future coauthor for our Overwhelmed devotional, Cheri, welcome back to Clutter Free Academy.

 

Cheri – Thank you so much for having me.

 

Kathi – My original partner in crime when it came to all things business, writing, everything like that. You have been used as an example many times in Clutter Free.

 

Cheri – Example of what not to do.

 

Kathi – No!  I would love for you to tell our listeners a little bit about your clutter free journey. Even though you don’t come on here and talk about Clutter Free. Tonya is my main clutter person and all that, but you’ve had your own clutter free journey.

 

Cheri – Yeah. It’s so interesting, because I was raised by a perfectionistic mother, for whom everything looked perfect on the outside. If you walked into the house, it was pristine. The perfect table setting. Even at Thanksgiving and Christmas, we had little name cards to tell us where to sit. It was that formal. But, especially after she died a few years ago, and we started going through the house, everything behind closed doors was a disaster.

 

Kathi – I didn’t know that!

 

Cheri – Oh, yay! I don’t know if you have a name for this, but she was a hoarder.

 

Kathi – It’s Closet Clutterer.

 

Cheri – She was a closet clutterer, but the clothing situation was totally out of control.

 

Kathi – I did know about the clothing situation. Still tags on a lot of stuff.

 

Cheri – Oh my, goodness. More than you can possibly imagine. More than any human could have worn in lifetimes, but that’s not today’s topic.

 

Kathi – It is interesting. It really does go to prove that when we go into somebody else’s house, and we think it’s perfect. Here’s the thing: I’m the clutter free person, but there are a couple of closets right now. The thing is, those are working closets and I know why they look the way they do. I feel like every time, somebody’s going to come here and find out about my closet of shame. It’s a working closet. Closets aren’t meant to be beautiful, but it’s good to know that almost everybody, unless they are really, really clutter free (or obsessive compulsive), clutter is an issue for everybody.

 

Cheri – Well, and I wanted to be so different from my mother, and one of the ways that I told myself I would be different from her, was, “Okay, she’s super neat. I’ll just be super sloppy.” That’s easy!

 

Kathi – Can we just say ‘relaxed’? ‘Cause relaxed is such a nicer word than ‘sloppy’.

 

Cheri – It’s a nicer word, but I actually decided I’d be sloppy.

 

Kathi – Did you really?

 

Cheri – Oh, yeah. That guaranteed it to me. She was so neat and miserable, I thought that if I was sloppy, I’d be happy, but it turns out, it doesn’t work that way.

 

Kathi – It doesn’t work that way.

 

Cheri – Just because I was not just ‘not neat’, I was actually sloppy, it also didn’t mean I got what I wanted out of life. It also didn’t mean I wasn’t like her. I was just as compulsive, just in other areas. I was just as trapped. It wasn’t freedom to just be the opposite of her.

 

Kathi – Extremes are always a sign of bondage.

 

Cheri – Have you said that before?

 

Kathi – I have not said that before.

 

Cheri – Say it again.

 

Kathi – Extremes are almost always a sign of bondage.

 

Cheri – Oh my, word.

 

Kathi – Because we are trying to get away from an ideal. Cheri always picks up on the things I say.

 

Cheri – I’m over hear hyperventilating.  Do you have to have so much truth so early in the episode?

 

Kathi – I know how it is for me.

 

Cheri – It’s so true.

 

Kathi – It’s the same for food, clutter. When I’m becoming obsessive about labeling every little thing in a drawer, I’m like, “Okay, Kathi, what’s really going on here?” So, to understand that. Or, when something is completely out of control? Those extremes in our lives, we have to pay attention to.

 

Cheri – So, my office had got extremely unusable.

 

Kathi – That’s what we’re talking about today. As anybody who has read my books, or listened to my podcast, or been in Clutter Free Academy, you know I am the 15+5 girl. Fifteen minutes of decluttering. Five minutes to take care of it. I believe in doing that every single day. I do believe, in rare instances…. Okay, here’s my huge caveat. I think  most people think when they declutter, it’s time to rent the U-Haul, take days off of work, do it all over, go to Pottery Barn, buy all the new furniture, you need a total room makeover in order to be able to function in it. I believe that is a lie, straight from the pit of Hell. However, there are times that our lives get so out of control, or we’ve gone through something, maybe a death, maybe a huge project, maybe a divorce. I don’t know what it is, but there are times when we just need to gut it. I’ll be honest, Tonya leans more towards the ‘gut it’, than I do. She’s someone who rents a dumpster on a regular basis. Her community makes it very easy for her to do that. That is not my situation at all. We pay dearly for everything we throw away. So, you gutted an area of your house. So, explain where it was and why it was.

 

Cheri – Well, it didn’t start as a gutting. I have a project that I’m supposed to be working on that I’ve not been working on. It’s a book. I had boxes of notes and articles and ideas. You know, the little scraps of paper, the napkins, that kind of stuff. I was like, “I’ve got to go through those in order to start making more progress on this book I’m working on.” Which may or may not have been true, but I believed it at the time. I think there was a lot of truth to it. There’s always the question of, “Am I playing office, or am I actually making a difference that I need?”

 

Kathi – I’ve never heard this term, Playing Office before, but I identify so deeply with that. When I am creating containers for my Post It notes? That’s when you know I’m playing office.

 

Cheri – When I’m color coordinating my Post It notes in order, because I can’t work until they look like a rainbow? I’m playing office.

 

Kathi – And then you have to buy the colors that you’re missing?

 

Cheri – Let’s go to Staples! Oh, wait. Back on topic.

 

Kathi – Praise God my closest office store is an hour away.

 

Cheri – So, I started going through them. I’m not visual. That means, I don’t see how bad things have got until something shakes me up. So, I’m going through these boxes, and I look around me, and I realize that I had not done anything but throw things into my office for probably two or three years. Actually, probably, now that you mentioned death, it probably goes back to when my mom died.

 

Kathi – Right. Which was what year?

 

Cheri – Four years ago, now. So, I still had all the leftovers from writing Overwhelmed together. I had all the leftovers from writing Exhale with Amy. I had all the leftovers from writing Sensitive and Strong with Denise. I had legitimate leftover things, where I was like, “Oh! These could be blog posts.” Then there were things that didn’t go in those books that might be used for future books. You don’t want to throw all those good things out. Then I had binders from speaking engagements. I had a lot of things that were finished, but I hadn’t completed them. So all of those were waiting for me to just bring them to an end. When I looked around, I had literally set up multiple tables, because I’m a piler, not a filer. If I put something in a drawer, or a file folder, it doesn’t exist anymore, so I have to have things out in the open. I’m also a spreader outer. I have to see them for me to know they’re there. I literally had no free surfaces I could work on. I would have to move them off of one table in order to have a small amount of free space to work. Then, and this is the weird thing I discovered, I realized one of the reasons I wasn’t working in my office, and I didn’t see it as work space, is I have this five foot table. It’s plenty of workspace for me, but it’s one of these pop up tables from Staples. It has a textured surface to it, so if I’m using pencil and paper, or pen and paper, my writing goes all wiggly squiggly and it feels weird. We all know, you want a pen that feels good when you’re working with it. I was like, “Oh! I didn’t even know that was an obstacle to me.”

 

Kathi – For some of us, we can say, “Oh, well, I can’t write my book because the table goes wiggly squiggly.” But that’s not it. That’s not what was going on for you.  It was saying, “I don’t know why I don’t want to work in here.” And you start to discover. You know, it’s interesting. You talk about piles of research and things like that. Why not just throw them all out?

 

Cheri – Gasp! Where’s a paper bag?

 

Kathi – Right. So, why wouldn’t you just throw those all away?

 

Cheri – Well, let’s see if I can do this from memory. The big three from Clutter Free. Fear, guilt and shame. So, fear is…remind me?

Kathi – What if I need it some day?

 

Cheri – What if I need it some day?

Kathi – I was going to say, that’s probably the one that trips you up the most.

 

Cheri – That’s the biggest one. You know, on the strengths finder, my number one strength is input. So, I love gathering information. I love gathering stuff. This is why I did do the deep gutting this time. I don’t think I’ll have to do it again, because at this stage of my life, I realize I really don’t need it. I really won’t use it again, but these are things I’ve been accumulating for four, five, six years, thinking I would use them. When I was putting them in the bins, which is the easy thing to do. Should I keep it or not? It’s decision fatigue, right? So rather than throw it, I kept it, because that was the easier thing that I thought meant no regret. It was no regret in the moment, but when I was facing an office full of things that hadn’t been thrown away? I wasn’t kind to my future self when I did that.

 

Kathi – It’s so interesting. We’re here at Writing at The Red House. We’re at a writer’s retreat that Cheri’s teaching, and Michele Cushatt was teaching at. It was so interesting, we were having a discussion. Michele was talking about how she has her office set up. She has her dictionary right here, and her thesaurus right here. I started to have shame. I don’t keep a dictionary on my desk. I don’t keep a thesaurus on my desk. Ergo, I must not be a real writer. I must run out and get a dictionary and thesaurus. Then I realized, “Kathi, you have and use a dictionary and thesaurus. They’re on your computer.”

 

Cheri – You also have one of the most advanced vocabularies of anybody I know.

 

Kathi – You’re very, very sweet.

 

Cheri – It’s true.

 

Kathi – So, we keep these things around. If I was a real crafter, I would have this. If I was a real writer, I would have this. If I’m a good mom, I would have this. So we keep little shrines around to our better selves.

 

Cheri – Shrines! That’s what my entire office was. It was a shrine to the conferences I had attended. It was a shrine to the memorabilia from this era of my life, and surely some of it would it into a book. Really, listening to you, my belief was, “I have to keep this.” But I didn’t question why? When I finally had enough of it, I think this is one of the possible benefits of a deep gutting like this. What happened was, I started going through those bins, thinking I was just going to go through a few piles, and I got sick and tired of it all so fast. I was like, “This is dumb. I can’t.” Part of it was realizing, these are notes and research from several years ago. I’m not that woman anymore. I can either try to go back, try to remember why I took those notes, try to become the person I used to be, but really, I have enough time to go back or move forward. I can’t do both. So, the reason it became a wholesale gutting, I realized, “I have to move forward. I have to get rid of all of this.” It’s all got to go. I will never have time to go through it.

 

Kathi – Okay, so what did you do about the guilt, though? The guilt that says, “I spent so much money on this book, (these supplies, those conferences, the tape series or cd series, or whatever it is). I spent so much money on it, I need to keep it forever.”?

 

Cheri –I think the antidote for that kind of guilt is gratitude. Gratitude for what I learned. Gratitude for what I did get from it. If you go to a conference, the binder’s a shrine, right? How many times have I opened those binders? Probably never. But I’ve always said this with my mouth, “If I got one good idea. If I got one insight.” I’ve always said this as a teacher. I’ve said this as I’ve gone to writer’s conferences, when I would go to parenting conferences, sermons. One useable idea is worth the cost of admission. So, the gratitude that says, “Okay. I was there. It changed me in some way.” And part of that is trust. Trust that God used that and I don’t have to remember what it was. I don’t have to know what it was. I just have to trust and be grateful that the Holy Spirit is at work in my life.

 

Kathi – When we have shrines, we put our trust in the shrine instead of God.

 

Cheri – I don’t want you to say that again. No. Go ahead.

 

 

Kathi – That’s who I am. I’m putting my trust in, “I went to this conference, so now I can call myself a real writer.” instead of understanding “No, God has called me to be a writer.”

 

Cheri – So if you had a dictionary and a thesaurus, it would be a shrine.

 

Kathi – It would be a shrine. It would be. I would be looking for external validation that I am what I want to be. Okay, so, this whole shrines thing is opening up big things for me, guys. This may be a book. I don’t even know. My brain is going.

 

Cheri – And we were in the room where it happened.

 

Kathi – Wow. Okay, so let’s talk about shame.  Guilt is usually ‘so and so gave it to me’. “I’m a bad daughter if I give that mug that my mom gave me, away.” “I am a bad writer if I don’t read every book that somebody sends to me.”

Cheri – I’m a terrible friend if I don’t keep every book that Kathi Lipp has written on my bookshelves. Or, are we going there?

 

Kathi – By the way, guys. If I ever give you a book, or sell you a book, I always say, “No book report required.” I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me.

 

Cheri – I’m joking. I have all your books. If I give them away, it’s as a gift.

 

Kathi – I have all your books, too. It’s good. How do you deal with that guilt and shame of “If I don’t keep this, I don’t value the relationship.”?

 

Cheri – These days, I think the fact that we can digitize things is really helpful. As I was gutting my office, I found some beautiful things. I found a letter. The first thing I ever had published was a story I wrote about a horse. It was published in a little local newspaper. One of my dad’s friends, who was an executive at the local medical center, he hand wrote me this beautiful letter on University Medical Center stationery. He said that God gifts to sensitive, perceptive people. He used the word sensitive.

 

Kathi – Oh my, goodness!

 

Cheri – He said he was putting it in his Soli Deo Gloria file. To God Be the Glory file. He wrote me this when I was thirteen.

 

Kathi – Chills.

 

Cheri – I took a picture of it, and if people want to write you and tell me I’m horrible, they can, but I then recycled it. I don’t need the piece of paper to know that it happened and to receive it. I’m going to remember those words for the rest of my life. In the past, I would have been, “Oh no! I’m a horrible person.” But I found a whole stack of these kinds of things. It’s like, “No. I don’t need to keep the thing to be grateful or to have the relationship.” Now, if there are people in our lives who, when they visit us, they expect to see the thing on display like in Gilmore Girls? That’s what councilors are for.

 

Kathi – I think about that. It’s serving a shrine, again. It really is. When we put food at a shrine.

 

Cheri – It wasn’t a gift in that case.

 

Kathi – It’s an obligation.

 

Cheri – Yep.

 

Kathi – Yeah, so, if you receive something and it turns from gift into obligation, you need to reexamine that, and you probably need to have an honest conversation, at some point, with that person. Unless they’re your parent. Then, just drag it out, ‘cause that’s what you have to do. Okay, so I want to come back next week and talk about the nitty gritty. How you actually go rid of the stuff.

 

Cheri – We can go there.

 

Kathi – Okay friends. This has been great. Cheri, thank you so much. You’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life you were always intended to live.

 

 

<<music>>

 

*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items

 

Get Rid of It: The One Surprising Reason You Will Want to Declutter Half of Your Things and Live Clutter Free

Get Rid of It: The One Surprising Reason You Will Want to Declutter Half of Your Things and Live Clutter Free

Earlier this week, I was so proud of myself. I finally decluttered my jewelry.

Why is this such a huge deal?

Because I love jewelry. Love it. And to get rid of it? Is so very, very hard for me. (Like Sophie’s Choice hard for me…)

For most of my life, I loved clothes. They were my passion and my weakness. And I still do love clothes, but as an adult I always loved shoes and jewelry more because, let’s face it, shoes and jewelry always fit.

That is, until I got plantar fasciitis in both feet and my shoes weren’t comfortable anymore. Then jewelry became my main source of joy. But my jewelry game? Had gotten out of hand.

I had so many chunky earrings and huge necklaces that it was getting harder and harder to actually use them. They were just giant clumps of tortoiseshell, gold and plastic all hanging together, unusable. It got to the point where I was just picking one of the same three necklaces and couple of pairs of earrings every day because untangling the mess of other jewelry was just too much.

So I finally had to deal with it —dive into this pile of crazy and start to untangle the rat’s nest. But as we all know, organizing is not enough. You have to get rid of it: what you don’t use, love, or wouldn’t buy again.

Get Rid of It – How I Learned to Love My Stuff More By Having Less of It

My goal? Get rid of half of my jewelry.

Now, if you have recently decluttered your jewelry, I would not advise letting go of half your pieces. But for me, who apparently had the same hoarding tendencies as a squirrel before the apocalypse, it needed to be done. I couldn’t just organize my jewelry. I had to get rid of it.

So I started to make piles based on the Clutter Free 3 Questions. In one pile: what did I love and use, and what would I buy again if I lost it. In the other pile: things I hadn’t used and wouldn’t buy again, that I liked, but didn’t love.

And of course, there was the undecided pile.

As I sorted, I realized that my undecided pile was bigger than the other two piles combined.

It was time to make some hard decisions:

I picked up each piece and got tough.

  • I had another pair of earrings that I could wear in place of the pair I’m holding in my hand? Get rid of it.
  • I don’t wear this necklace because it scratches my neck? Get rid of it.
  • I bought this bracelet because I thought it would go with everything, and that’s why I never wear it—it doesn’t feel special. Get rid of it.
  • Someone gave me this pin as a white elephant gift. It is so not my style. Get rid of it.

It was hard. Really hard. I love my stuff. Truly.

And when I was done, I squeaked by with having just half the jewelry that I had before. VICTORY!

But of course, that is when the doubts set in:

  • What if I got rid of something I will miss?
  • What if I buy a new shirt and I just gave away the necklace that will go perfectly with it?
  • Didn’t I just waste a ton of money?

And those doubts stayed with me—until the next morning.

When I got dressed and went to pick out my jewelry, I felt overwhelmed, but in a good way.

I now had so many great options. And I could actually see them. I was excited about picking out jewelry again. And that is the number one reason to get rid of half your stuff. It instantly doubles your choices.

How does getting rid of half your stuff actually double your choices?

  1. You can actually see what you have. When you have too much stuff, it’s easy to lose some of your favorite things in the process. By getting rid of half your stuff, you uncover your hidden gems. If you need a great way to see all your stuff, I just bought this jewelry organizer from Hobby Lobby and I can’t even tell you how much I’m loving seeing my stuff displayed. Glory be!
  2. You are not overwhelmed by the amount of your stuff. Several times in the past when I’d go to put on jewelry, I would look at the tangled mess and just give up. Now, I am no longer overwhelmed by my choices.
  3. You keep the best and get rid of the rest. This is a great opportunity to really curate your style. If you bought a necklace with feathers because it seemed good at the time, you can reevaluate who you are and what you love and keep only the things that fit and support your current lifestyle.
  4. You know what you still need. When you are brave enough to get rid of half your stuff, you will see some holes. My favorite turquoise earrings have now become earring (singular). The necklace I wore daily a year ago is tangled beyond hope. It may be time to find the new pair of turquoise earrings you love, or replace the chain on that favorite necklace.

Get Rid of It: Other Categories to Cut in Half

Now that I’ve done this halving with my jewelry, I’ve done it in other areas that were out of control:

  • Makeup
  • Scarves
  • Shoes
  • Bowls
  • Kitchen gadgets
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Towels
  • Linens
  • Pens
  • Office supplies
  • Cleaning products

And can I tell you—in each of these categories where I’ve gotten rid of half of my stuff? I haven’t missed one little thing.

Plus, with giving away half of my things, I know I’ve made it possible for a single mom to have something new for herself for the first time in a long time.

Hmmm…keeping it unused at my house, or loved at someone else’s house? Why is this even a question?

 

 

Creating the Closet You Love: Declutter Your Wardrobe with These Seven Closet Solutions to Help You Get Dressed and Out the Door Every Single Day

Creating the Closet You Love: Declutter Your Wardrobe with These Seven Closet Solutions to Help You Get Dressed and Out the Door Every Single Day

Closet SolutionsAs much as I know you want closet solutions, I know it can be incredibly challenging to actually give things away. Here are some ideas that will help you love what you own, cut down on what you don’t, and have more choices without being overwhelmed.

Closet Solutions #1: Go through your closet at the beginning of every season.

When is the best time to donate Christmas decorations? In November when you’re unpacking your own decorations—that way, some other family will be able to decorate their tree on the cheap and enjoy their holidays. The best time to run a donation of summer dresses, flip flops and cotton shorts to your favorite charity is when you declutter your wardrobe at the beginning of spring. That way, some other mom can have something new and cute to start off her spring.

Use the Clutter Free 3 Box, 2 Bag System to make your twice-a-year closet decluttering system fast and effective.

Closet Solutions #2: Make Donations Easy

One of my favorite decluttering solutions is to have a donation bag right inside my closet. If I try something on and it doesn’t look as great as I thought it did, has a stain on it that I can’t get out (donations centers will take stained or ripped clothes and sell it by the pound), or doesn’t fit anymore (it happens), I can drop it into the bag. When the bag is full, I take it down to the car and the next time I’m driving by my charity, I drop the bag off there.

If you have to have a new plan every time you want to donate something, it’s probably easier to just leave that piece of clothing in your closet—leading to clutter. Make getting rid of clothes that don’t pass the clutter free test easy.

Closet Solutions #3: Turn All Your Hangers Backwards

This trick is the best way to have hard evidence whether I’ve worn something or not. In case you haven’t heard about this system, let me explain: At the beginning of a season (I do this in the Spring and in the Fall), hang up everything in your closet backwards. As you get dressed, pull clothes out with the hanger. When you go to hang up clothes again, hang them up normally. At the end of a season, if I’ve never taken that hanger out of my closet to wear, that means that I really, really don’t wear that piece of clothing and I can donate it guilt-free. If you still can’t decide, use the Clutter Free 3 Clarifying Questions to decide fast.

Closet Solutions #4: Create Outfits You Love From What You Have

When most of us are looking for closet solutions, it’s because we have all these clothes and nothing to wear. And that’s because we’re trying to get dressed in the few minutes before we get out the door. The worst time to try to put an outfit together? When you need to put an outfit together. Spend some time pulling a few outfits together now when you have the time, brain space and creativity to do so.

With all the talk of a capsule wardrobe, many of us are told we have to dump all our clothes and start over with some basics that can mix and match into a thousand different outfits.

Not true.

When whittling down your wardrobe, the most important thing is to start with the pieces you have and already love. Pull out the things you love, wear and make you feel fab. Then start seeing what you need to do to make those pieces work for you. Do you need to refresh some of your t-shirts to make your jeans and trench look fresh? Maybe you have been ignoring your jewelry game and it’s time to get a couple of standout pieces to tie things together.

Remember—clothes are supposed to be at least a little bit of fun. And all the closet solutions in the world are not going to fund a shopping spree for a new capsule wardrobe…

If you are not having a little fun putting outfits together, I want to give you permission to loosen up a bit and let your creative juices flow. I think this is especially important for any of us (raising my hand here…) who struggle with not loving the state our body is currently in.

If you’ve spent very little time thinking about how you dress (except crying in front of your closet, on your knees, praying up a miracle), it’s time to get some inspiration. Go on Pinterest and create a wardrobe category. Look at the clothes you already love in your closet and then look for pins that have outfits with similar pieces. Get inspired by the women who think about clothes 24/7 and then just borrow their genius (because who has time for that).

Try putting together “looks” for the coming week and figure out how you can make your clothes work double time both for work and for weekend, running errands and going to church.

I challenge you to put together seven days of amazing outfits—shoes, jewelry, bags, the whole bit. Have fun with your clothes again and get a serious game of dress-up going.

Closet Solutions #5: Create a Shopping List

Get the scene from Pretty Woman out of your head. We are not talking a shopping spree here. Now is the time to create a list of a few items that would tie your wardrobe together.

For instance, I have a pair of tan pants with tiny white polka dots that I love. But I realized that I wasn’t wearing them because the shirt I have to go with them is on the warm side and I want to wear these in hot weather. A lightweight, flowy white shirt would go perfectly with these pants.

But, a lightweight, flowy white shirt would also go with a lot of other clothes that I love, so a lightweight, flowy white shirt is going on my list.

Last year, I wanted a pair of olive green cargo pants more than I wanted to be on Trading Spaces. I put them on the list in April, and kept looking and looking for the perfect pants. The problem? I couldn’t find them. Anywhere. It was like all the shops in the world conspired against me to keep clothes out of my reach.

Finally, I had to go international in my search. In July, my husband and I took a trip to Canada and while I was in a department store there, I came across the perfect olive cargo pants. It may be the one time in my life I didn’t look at the price tag; I was just so excited to find the pants that I would have spent about any amount of money on them.

And no, they weren’t on sale, and yes, they were more than I normally pay for a pair of pants. But I have worn those pants at least once a week during the fall and spring since I bought them. Other clothes that I’ve bought on sale? Those have lingered in my closet for months. Best Canadian money I’ve ever spent.

So keep a little list. I’ve got one on Evernote on my phone. The other advantage of keeping a list? I go into a store (or online) and look for what’s on the list, not getting distracted by all the shiny things that are out there trying to rob me of my money (and my closet space).

Closet Solutions #6: Know When to Invest and When to Have Fun: Anchor Pieces vs. Fun and Frippy

Every closet should have the basics: the jeans that make go with everything, the black jacket that you can throw on with any shirt you own, the white tailored shirt that makes you feel like a million bucks.

But you should also have a few things that are fun and fab. A few of my favorites? An olive-colored tank top with tiny owls on it, a grey T-shirt with the words “Blah, Blah, Blah” in black sparkle (for when I’ve used up all my words), and a pair of navy Toms shoes with moons and stars on them.

Here is the key to having a closet you love: Invest in the anchor pieces and have fun with the frippy ones.

Anchor Pieces: These are the basic workhorses of your wardrobe you wear all the time and go with everything. Depending on your lifestyle (working in a corporate job outside the home, running a freelance business from your spare bedroom, raising small humans) your basics are going to be very different.

As someone who works from home and could get away with yoga pants and slippers most of the time, I had to put together a working wardrobe so I wasn’t embarrassed to go on a Zoom call or answer the door when the UPS guy showed up. But I don’t have to look like I’m ready to take a meeting in the city everyday either. I keep my anchor pieces in neutrals with just one accent color (Neutrals: black, white, cream, olive—Accent: coral) so that almost everything mixes and matches. Here are my anchor pieces:

  • Blue jeans
  • White Jeans
  • Black jeans
  • White cotton pants
  • Cream cotton pants
  • Black cotton pants
  • Olive cargo pants
  • Black tank top
  • Cream tank top
  • Olive Tank top
  • Black T-shirt
  • Cream T-shirt
  • Olive T-shirt
  • White T-shirt
  • Coral T-shirt
  • Denim shirt
  • White button down
  • White and khaki striped shirt
  • Olive jacket
  • Coral cardigan

These are the pieces that I could dress with every day. But where would the fun in that be?

And that’s when the fun and frippy come into play.

These are things like:

  • Camo
  • Florals
  • Patterns
  • Prints
  • Kimonos
  • Graphic Tees

I tend to do most of my fun stuff in shirts and accessories. These are the pieces that express our personality and make dressing fun again.

Closet Solutions #7: Keep the Clothes You Actually Wear

Get rid of the rest. (Guilt free!) We’ve all done it—bought the jacket with feathers on it, decided that epaulets are back in style, bought a shirt that looked cute on our daughter, and then realized our daughter should be the only one who is young enough to wear it.

One of the most important closet solutions is to understand that we all make mistakes, but we don’t need to hang on to them. (Yes – this is a closet solution, but it’s also a life solution).

Maybe you were supposed to own that butterfly T-shirt for just a season, and then get it into the hands of the person who will love it for the next five years. I love how God can use us to help other people get what they want, even if it’s though a mistake of ours.

 

Make your clothes earn the right to be in your closet. There should be nothing in there that you don’t love, use or would buy again.

 

 

How to Declutter Fast: The Three-Box, Two-Bag System

Living clutter free is never one and done. You have to keep at it daily. But there are times when you want (or need) to know how to declutter fast. When your parents are coming to visit (or worse, when your in-laws are coming to visit…) friends are coming over after a crazy-busy week of work, kids and life, or you need to find that bill but can’t uncover it in the piles around your house. We’ve all had our declutter emergencies.

And while decluttering your house fast is great, what you don’t want to do is recover from stashing stuff in drawers and bookshelves. We call that the Dash and Stash around here. It helps for a day, but the next time you are looking for your car keys, you’re sunk because you “stashed” them in the basket of dog toys.

So here is how to declutter fast, get rid of the things you don’t need or love, while still being able to find all the stuff you do need tomorrow.

How to Declutter Fast Step 1. Gather Your Tools

This is a system you will be using in every room in your house, so I want you to gather up everything you’ll need right now:

Set up your iPod and a timer (you can use the one on your cell phone or your oven), three cardboard boxes, a garbage bag, and a recycle bag, Mark one cardboard box “Other Rooms,” one “Put Away,” and one “Give Away.” (Or, if decluttering this way becomes a routine, check out our 3 Bag System  that you can pack up when you’re done and store until tomorrow when you declutter again.)

How to Declutter Fast Step 2. Start Sorting

Set fifteen minutes on your timer and pick a spot to clean out (an area no larger than what you can sort through in fifteen minutes).

Go through the area and use the three boxes to sort the contents.

If you are stuck on an item, ask yourself the Clutter Free 3 Clarifying Questions to determine whether that thing is clutter:

  • Do I love it?
  • Do I use it?
  • Would I buy it again?

Other Rooms Box

Anything that doesn’t belong in the area you’re cleaning goes into the “Other Rooms” box. This includes toys in the kitchen, dog brushes in the living room, report cards in the bathroom, or dishes in the bedroom.

Put Back Box

This is the box where you put things that belong in the area you’re cleaning, but they need to be put back in the right place. If you’re straightening up your bedroom, examples of items might be clean clothes on the floor, shoes under your bed, or scarves hanging over a bedroom chair. These all go in the “Put Back” box so once you have your bedroom in order, you just put those items back where they belong.

Give Away Box

Clothes your kids have outgrown? Check. Videos your family will never watch again? Check. There is huge freedom in giving stuff away. Here is a great set of criteria for keeping or giving away an item:

  • Is it something you or a family member is currently using or wearing?
  • Is it something that makes you or a family member happy when they see it?
  • Is it something you or a family member will definitely use in the next six months?

 

If you can answer yes to one or more of those questions, find a home for the item. If not, away it goes.

 

And a friendly reminder: don’t donate garbage. It costs charities time and money to get rid of stuff you don’t want. Don’t be that person. Donate only those things that are in decent condition and are worthy of reselling.

Garbage Bag

Anything you don’t want and isn’t worthy of being donated or can’t be recycled goes in here.

Recycle Bag

Recycling regulations vary from city to city, so check with your local municipality or disposal service if you have any question about what should be recycled and what shouldn’t.

How to Declutter Fast Step 3. Deal with Your Boxes

Once you’ve cleaned out your chosen area, take the “Other Rooms” box and put away all the stuff where it belongs. Take the “Give Away” box to where you gather stuff to donate or directly to your car to be donated the next time you run errands. Now, since your area is clean and organized, put anything in the “Put Back” box into the spot it’s supposed to go.

And the most important part: when you are done with decluttering, put your boxes away. (You don’t want those to become clutter!)

If this feels totally overwhelming to you, consider having a supportive friend or someone you hire go through these steps with you. There’s a lot of freedom in a fresh start.

The beautiful thing about decluttering? When you do it every day, it keeps you from wanting to bring things into the house in the first place. The more you declutter, the more you will want to keep your space as clutter free as possible. It’s this daily action that will help keep you out of the Target dollar aisle, keep you from buying those shoes just because they were on sale, and keep you from holding onto that second DVD of Legally Blond just in case.