“The more we simplify, the easier life is.”

That was the bottom line, literally, in an email I received from a friend recently. Her email was about an article she had just read that had to do with cleaning out our closets.

The first thought that popped into my head was, “When did she see my closet and realize how badly I needed this advice?”

For the record, she’s never been near my closet, and that’s not why she emailed the article to me. The reason she sent it was that she realized that the advice about cleaning out her closet related to other areas of her life as well. And she thought that might be an interesting topic for me to write about. I thought so, too.

Actually, I have written a number of times about decluttering, getting organized, and developing routines and habits that can help us clean up and clear out our space and our “stuff” in as little as 15 minutes a day.

The key point in the article my friend sent was that you should make decisions quickly. Go into your closet with a bag and a timer set for ten minutes, and grab everything you can that you no longer wear –whether because it no longer fits, it’s unflattering, or your tastes or lifestyle have changed.

My friend said she felt as if the author of the article had read her mind. She also realized that when she had fewer things in her closet, they were much easier to manage. The lesson also applied to a presentation she had recently given, one that she realized had too much information and too many PowerPoint slides. Here, too, the conventional wisdom of “Less is more” was absolutely true.

Since I fully agree with this, I’m forced to ask myself a difficult question: “Then why do I still have so many clothes in my closet, books on my bookshelves, and projects and programs in my life?” The answer, I suspect, is that I’m simply afraid to let go. To give up things that were once important to me, things that I used and loved, but don’t anymore. I guess I’m afraid I’ll want or need them again at some point in the future, but won’t have them anymore.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I still need to learn is to trust – that I have everything I need right now, and that I’ll be able to find and obtain whatever I need in the future. In the meantime, letting go of what doesn’t help or serve me now – whether it’s clothing or gadgets or outdated advice – will give me more time and space and attention for everything that does give my life meaning and enjoyment right now.

As soon as I finish writing this column, I’m going to email my friend to thank her for the insights I gained from the article she sent and from her comments about it. Right after that, I’m going to grab a bag and a timer, and head for my closet.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on April 16, 2015.
©Betty Liedtke, 2015

Do you have any tips and tricks for paring down and simplifying your closet — or your life? I’d love to hear about them! Please leave a comment, but be aware that all comments will be moderated and approved before appearing on this blog in order to protect all of us from unwanted spam.