December 21, 2011

End of Year Decluttering

Another year is about to end, and leaving with it should be the detritus that tends to gather over the months. The end of the year is a great time to clean up your email, clean up that cluttered computer desktop and maybe even dump a few friends on Facebook. Even though this cleaning session is only for electronic clutter, the mass of information can weigh heavily on your psyche.

Here are the three things that I will be doing to welcome 2012 with a fresh outlook:

1. Clean up email inboxes

Why does it seem like at the end of each year I get the dreaded "Your inbox is nearly full" message? Oh yes, I've been just keeping everything (and their attachments) in my inbox. I will be dumping both received and sent messages that are over 8 months old and I will be saving some messages and their attachments in a Dropbox account or in a file that is related to the project. I also remove emails that are rated as "Enormous".

I will be doing this with both my work and personal email accounts. Remember to also clean out any email accounts that you use primarily for forwarding purposes and to dump the Trash for each account.

2. Organize projects

Do a full backup of all your 2011 projects. Then do a backup of your backup. I have three systems of backups: an off-site server, an external hard drive and on DVD. The server and external drive are for more current projects, while the DVD is usually for projects that are three or more months old. Getting old projects out of your sight will enable you to concentrate more on the current projects.

3. Clean up Facebook

Facebook is used for everything now including logging onto other sites, posting comments and creating accounts. The end of the year is a good time to remove yourself from groups you are no longer interested in, to dump old (and potentially embarrassing) photos, remove apps that have access to your account, and remove old messages.

Take a good look at your "friends". Can some of them quietly disappear? If you are not interested in being friends with random people, then click on the Friends area of your account, click their checked Friends box and scroll down to Unfriend. It's painless.

Now, to remedy removing a few of your friends, take some time to catch up with your true friends on Facebook. Send a note to someone you have been meaning to say hello to for a while and maybe plan an off-Facebook meet-up.

Photo courtesy of Muffet/Flickr

December 5, 2011

The Capsule Wardrobe

 Wikipedia calls a "capsule wardrobe" a set of clothing, normally around 24 items, which can be mixed and matched to create a wide variety of outfits. The idea is aimed at people who want to make the most of a small clothing budget, or people who find that they spend a lot of money on clothes that they never wear.

My already minimized wardrobe will be getting a capsule makeover as well. I'm determined to get my clothing items down to 20 pieces. On top of those 20 pieces will be a few hats, scarfs and some jewelry to dress each item up or down.

The keys parts of a capsule wardrobe are:

1. Each item should go with several other items. You should be able to pair a shirt with several pants and skirts and a pair of shoes with many different outfits.

2. Keep to several colors. Have you seen those massive wardrobes that look like a fabric rainbow? There are so many clothes that they need to be color coordinated. Keep your wardrobe to four or five basic colors. Mine happen to be black, gray, purple/mauve/blue and red.

3. Make sure you love each item. In this previous blog post, I said you should look at your closet as if you are going to a party. Do you walk into the party and see all your best friends, or do walk in and see only people you don't know? Each item of clothing should fit, be comfortable and you should want to reach for them over and over again.

The difficult part is how to have a capsule wardrobe when you live in an area with four distinct seasons. The lightweight blouses in my closet have to share space with bulky fleece, flip-flops have to share space with clunky winter boots. So, I've decided to have a capsule wardrobe for warm weather and a capsule wardrobe for cold weather. Items from the warm weather section can also be used (T-shirts, long sleeve T-shirts) as layers for winter.

Now, my goal is just to look as fabulous as Miss Golightly.

Photo courtesy of pwbaker/Flickr

December 1, 2011

Why do we keep certain things?

As I look around my space, I begin to wonder why I keep the things I do. I keep a green bowl that I bought in Ireland because it was the same color as the water in Dingle Bay in County Kerry. The bowl is full of shells, rocks and coins from Fiji, Florence and Florida.

I keep a beat-up old wind chime out in my Russian Olive tree because the little tune it makes reminds me of warm, summer breezes. I keep a small statue of the Buddha in my office because he makes me want to take a deep, soothing breath each time I look at him.

Is there a special meaning behind each item that you keep? If there isn't, you might not want to keep it. Of course, a random kitchen item or a comfortable shirt might not have any meaning behind it, but if you can give it a back story, you can give it more of a reason to stay in your home.

Photo courtesy of jakeprzespo