Ultimate Spring Cleaning, Day 3: Closet Case

by Michael on March 24, 2010 · 0 comments

He obviously had to make room for all these people.

Ultimate Spring Cleaning is a project to clean and declutter not only your house, but your life. Each day you’ll get a housecleaning assignment, an assignment that involves the world around you, and a project to clear your mind. You can start anytime at the Ultimate Spring Cleaning main page.

If you’re with the program, you started work on your bedroom yesterday, but set aside your closet for some “quality time” of its own. You also tossed out something you’ve been loathe to part with for years, making it much easier to deal with the rest of the stuff you’ve been accumulating. Today we’re staying in the bedroom, but it’s time to address your wardrobe—and how you fit into it.

Your Home: Clean Your Closet

If you’re like me, the closet becomes not only the home for those shirts you hope might come back in style next year and pants with just a little hole in the crotch, but for just about everything you want to hide. My bedroom closet contains camping equipment, softball bats, a stash of receipts and event tickets, Halloween costumes from years gone by, and exercise equipment.

It’s okay to use the closet to store whatever needs storage—that’s what it’s for—but you do want to make sure you aren’t shoving things into the closet that you should be donating, selling or just dumping.

  1. First, take out everything that’s not clothing. Remember our sorting steps from yesterday? You’re going to repeat them with this stuff. Keep the things you’ll actually use, and put the rest into a box or bag to be dealt with later. But don’t put back anything yet.
  2. Now start sorting your clothes. For each item, the only question to ask is, “do I wear this?” If you don’t wear it, you won’t wear it, and you should set it aside for donation or a yard sale. Put it in the “to sell or dump” box or bag.
  3. If you do wear it, and it’s clean and ready to wear, replace it neatly on the hanger (by the way, you’re a grown-up and should be using wood hangers) or shelf. If it’s not clean, put it in your laundry hamper or dry cleaning pile. If it’s not ironed, put it in your ironing pile. We’ll look at efficiently ironing clothes tomorrow.
  4. After you’ve decided what stays in your closet, it’s time to make sure you’re storing it all efficiently. Is there enough space to hang your clothes properly? If you have shoes in your bedroom closet, do you have a shoe rack for them? Do you need more shelves for sweaters or other stored items? You should be able to quickly grab any item in your closet—after all, if you’ve done this right, all that’s left is stuff you use.

There are myriad options to make your closet more efficient, from plain plastic stacking cubes and double-decker hanger rods to people like California Closets who will come in and remodel your closet for you. Clear plastic bins, stacked peach crates—it’s all fair game, as long as it’s neat and every closed container is clearly marked.

I remind you: be ruthless. The world will make more stuff for you.

Your World: The Crap Detox

This may be the hardest part of the month: today you’re going to start a food detox.

This challenge is borrowed from Fitness Spotlight, a site I highly recommend. They espouse “Primal eating,” which involves unprocessed foods our ancient ancestors ate and dumps anything that requires a factory. The first step is to detox yourself from some of the foods you may rely on.

For two weeks you will stop eating:

  • Sugars and artificial sweeteners.
  • Processed foods: canned prepared food (canned vegetables OK), frozen dinners, Hamburger Helper, and everything else where the ingredients aren’t actual fully natural food items.
  • Pasta and breads, including crackers, baked goods, muffins, tortillas and bagels.
  • Cereals, grains and wheat products: no Corn Flakes, no oatmeal, no pasta.
  • Fast food, no cheap restaurant burgers, no hot dogs, no pizza, no deep-fried foods, no deli meats.
  • Dairy: no milk, or cheese. Plain Greek-style yogurt and cottage cheese are OK.
  • Vegetable oils: no margarine, or any vegetable oils. Instead, use olive oil, lard, butter, coconut oil or palm oil.
  • Soda and fruit juices, including diet soda.
  • Coffee, including espresso. Tea is fine, including tea with caffeine.
  • Alcohol. I know, I know, but it’s not forever.

Instead you’ll eat only real food and drink only water and tea. What is real food? Here’s a healthy shopping list for you. Skip the oatmeal for these two weeks, though.

Grill or broil steaks or pork chops. Buy frozen vegetable blends and steam them in the microwave. Bring baked or roasted chicken to work. Have meat (ham, steak) and eggs for breakfast. Make a pot of rice and beans big enough to eat for a week. Eat almonds and raisins as snacks. Put some lemon or lime in your water. The list goes on…

Don’t starve yourself. Buy lots of good food and eat frequently.

In two weeks we’ll add back some of the better foods above, but we’ll try to keep avoiding the crap.

Yourself: Meditate

You’ve been doing a lot over the past couple of days, and you’ll be doing much more. It’s important that you take a break from time to time and just sit quietly, alone, and clear your mind. If you haven’t started meditating, give it a try today.

I’ve already created a starter guide to meditation for men, but the rules are simple:

  • Find a quiet place. It could be a room in your house, or outdoors. It doesn’t have to be dark or completely quiet — just not loud and distracting. Quiet and dimly lit might help at first, though.
  • Sit comfortably, either in a chair or on the floor. If you can get yourself into the “lotus” position, great. If not, just sit normally with your hands on your lap. Sit straight up with good posture, facing forward. Close your eyes.
  • Allow your mind to clear. When you’re beginning, you’ll probably need something to distract you from your thoughts. At first, try concentrating on breathing calmly and deeply.
  • Meditate for a short period of time. Even five minutes can refresh you. Set a timer, or finish when you feel done.
  • Don’t feel bad if your thoughts keep intruding. At first it can be very difficult to keep them out. But if you find your mind focusing on something or someone, or solving a problem, make note of it and re-focus on your breathing. It may help to visualize yourself pushing that thought out of sight.

I’d like you to do this every day if possible, but at least every 2-3 days I’ll remind you to include it in your day.

See you tomorrow.

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