In most cases, when you want to make room for something new, you have to let go of something old. If you want to update your wardrobe, you might consign or donate items in your closet that no longer fit or are out of style. If you’re moving into a new home, you may have a garage sale to get rid of furniture that you no longer need. There are even small, everyday instances in which you simply remove the old to make space for the new without even thinking. Before taking a trip to the grocery store, you might clean out your fridge and discard leftovers or items that have spoiled. Purging something old to make room for something new comes naturally to us in so many facets of our lives, yet we don’t instinctively turn to this practice when it comes to creativity.
Creativity is intangible – it doesn’t literally take up space like a new pair of shoes or a couch or a carton of milk. Even though you don’t physically have to make room for a great big piece of creativity, you have to make space for it mentally. Just like your dresser or fridge can become unbearably full, so much so that you can never find the right pair of jeans or marinade when you need them, your mind can become cluttered and creativity can get lost. It’s easier when you can physically see that you have so many throw pillows you can no longer comfortably sit on your couch. You know it’s time to sell or give away a few. However, when you’re dealing with something more abstract like creativity and making space in your mind, it can be more challenging to know when and how to clear things out.
Like New Year’s Resolutions or bikini season diets, spring cleaning is a bit arbitrary. There’s never a wrong or right time to define goals, commit to a healthier lifestyle, or clear out clutter in your life. While these annual milestones are somewhat trivial, they serve as good reminders that it’s important to regularly set intentions, practice healthy habits, and let go of something old to make room for something new.
For this month’s AOC Blog Creative Habit Challenge, do a little metaphorical spring cleaning. Actively find ways to clear your mind and make space for creativity. This could be as simple as shutting off your computer, powering down your phone, and allowing yourself to detach and decompress for a few hours. Maybe you just need a breath of fresh air – go outside and get lost in the beautiful spring weather. Perhaps you’ve always been curious about meditation, and now could finally be the time to give it a try. If your mind is feeling particularly cluttered and the thought of freeing your mind sounds paralyzing or impossible, you might want to dig deeper into your spring cleaning.
Over time, the buildup of stress or the pressure of the never-ending to-do list can really start to saturate your mind. In these instances, a simple walk around the neighborhood park won’t suffice – you don’t just need spring cleaning, you need deep cleaning. Carve out some time and space to ritualize the process. Grab a pen and paper, and physically free write or sketch whatever you need to release. Try to be as raw and honest as possible. Then, tear it up, burn it, or throw it into a nearby body of water – really let it go and allow your mind to empty.
Whatever mode or method you choose, don’t just clean out your house this spring. Clean out your mind and make space for creativity. Let’s continue the conversation – tweet me @AOCBlogGirl using the hashtag #AOCBlogCreativeHabit!
Longer days, warmer temperatures, nature in bloom… Spring is in the air. It’s about that time to rotate your wardrobe, box up those winter items, shift them to the back of the closet, and bring forth the sundresses and shorts. It’s the perfect opportunity to do a little spring cleaning in your closet.
I know that the mere thought of tackling your closet can be overwhelming. The closet, by nature, might not be the most organized place, might be overflowing because your shopping habit is bigger than your rent, and might just seem downright daunting. There’s a reason the closet has a door! It’s an easy space to close off to the mind after you ransack it each morning before work or each weekend before heading out for a night on the town. I promise, if you just carve out a Saturday afternoon and open that door, you’ll find that Spring Cleaning: Closet Edition isn’t so bad (it might even be fun!). If you need a little help getting started and creating a plan of attack, I’ve got 5 tips on how to clean out your closet that might just help!
1. Cultivate Positive Energy
Although the process may be a bit of a pain, the outcome of cleaning out your closet should be rewarding. Remind yourself of the good old phrase, out with the old, in with the new. I’m not saying that you should plan a massive shopping binge after your closet clean out, but the purpose of a seasonal closet cleaning is to make room for the new items your inevitably going to add when a new season rolls around. Another good incentive to clean out your closet is the option to sell or consign your clothes. I spent years being a severe clothes and accessories hoarder. My garments are and always will be an extension of myself, and for years the thought of parting with a single item felt like I’d be chopping off a limb. In college, I finally took the plunge. I went through years and years of clothing and memories. I reminisced and might have even snapped some farewell pics. Then, I loaded up my car and headed to the local consignment store in my college town. After a short 45-day period, I got a major check, and since then, I’ve continued to make some big bucks consigning. The key is finding the right consignment store with the right policies. For a great example of one, check out the consignment store I still continue to use in Athens, GA – Suska is the best!
2. Make a Game Plan
The task of spring cleaning your closet will be a lot less daunting if you make a game plan. First, think about your current lifestyle. Notice I say lifestyle not just style. Your life is a major influence on your style. You may not love sheaths and pencil skirts, but if you work in a corporate environment, these items make up a major part of your wardrobe. Second, get a second opinion. This is particularly important if you’re a first-time closet cleaner. You need a second set of eyes – okay what you really need is someone objective who is not as emotionally attached to your closet as you are. So talk to your roommate, your bff, your sister, or your most fashion forward gay friend, and ask if he/she would be willing to come over next Saturday and talk you off a ledge, should you need to be. A closet cleaning companion will help lighten the mood and keep things fun. Come on! Didn’t you always want to reenact What Not to Wear? You may be on the end where your precious clothing memories are being discarded into a trashcan, but still, now’s your chance!
3. The Big Day: Start Cleaning!
The day is here. Your closet cleaning companion is on the way. Breathe in and out. Put on some upbeat music – something you’d want to strut the catwalk to – light some candles, pour a couple cocktails or drink of choice, be sure there’s good lighting and a full length mirror, and once your consultant arrives, you’re ready to begin! Remember, you’re taking it one season at a time. Should you decide to donate, sell, or consign, only in-season items will be accepted. There! We just eliminated half your closet. We’ll get to the other half in the fall. As you and your consultant go through your closet item by item, there will be pieces you know with 100% certainty you want to keep. For everything else – anything slightly in question, anything rarely worn in the past two years – try it on, and use the following 5 questions to evaluate it:
– Does it have set-in stains?
– Is it damaged/worn?
– Does it fit you?
– Does it fit your current lifestyle?
– Would you still buy it today?
The sixth and final question is the most difficult. You answered NO to stains and damage, you answered YES to fitting you and your current lifestyle, and YES, you would still buy it today. But here’s the kicker: do you actually wear it? This is the toughest and most important question. We all hold on to things in our closet. There’s nothing wrong with them, they fit and look great, but for some reason, we just don’t wear them. These are the items you have to let go, and these are the items that will likely be best to sell or consign. Someone else will not only love them but also wear them.
“Clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them.” – Marc Jacobs
4. In the Midst of the Mess: You’re Almost There!
I’m going to tell you now, when cleaning out your closet, things will get worse before they get better. About halfway through the process, you and your closet consultant may exit the emotional clothing roller coaster and break for a snack. It’s then you’ll realize you can barely walk across the room because there’s an explosion of clothing and accessories everywhere. There’s a donate pile, a consign pile, a back in the closet pile, a wtf pile, and your consultant has started making a pile for herself. The good news is, this means you’re making progress! While you take a moment to step away from the chaos, consider making a shopping list of voids you’ve noticed in your wardrobe. This will be a good reminder of why you entered this process in the first place: to make room for the new!
5. Final Touches
You’ve gone item by item through your warm weather wardrobe. It’s no small task, but I knew you could do it! Now, it’s time to put what’s staying back in the closet and transport what’s ready to donate or sell. You’ve already put so much time and energy into this endeavor. Don’t just toss everything back in the closet and close that door! Take this time to do a little re-organization. Invest in some closet-organizing accessories from stores like Target, The Container Store, or Ikea, and implement the basic closet organization technique: either by color or by garment type. Next, bag up the donations and gather the items to sell or consign. For the latter items, you’ll need to check the store’s policy if you plan to consign. For example, some consignment stores want items on hangers. If you plan to sell through another outlet like eBay or Bib + Tuck, do your research and take measures to protect yourself as a seller!