Thanksgiving. Turkey Day. This is one of my favorite holidays. It’s about celebrating abundance, gorging on green-bean casserole and can-shaped cranberry sauce and collapsing in front of the TV to watch wheels come off the season of your favorite football team thanks to an ill-timed interception by an overpaid quarterback with overly-long sleeves… Oh yeah, it’s about being with family and friends and being thankful for everyone and everything in your life too.
I am thankful. I’m thankful for my wonderful wife and amazing son. I’m thankful for an extended family that I actually enjoy being around. I’m thankful for my job, that I have a roof over my head, all of that.
But, of course like most people, I forget to be thankful most of the rest of the year. I forget to show proper gratitude for the abundance I have. So, I wanted to share one small thing I did this past week to exercise that muscle. I decided to be especially thankful for the clothes on my back. I created a spreadsheet and catalogued every single thread of clothing I own.
Okay, that’s pretty dorky and probably not too inspiring. But, this is one small step I hope will eventually make a huge impact in how I view and treat the many blessings I have in my life.
Nothing to Wear
A few weeks ago I complained to my wife that I had “nothing to wear” to work. I didn’t like to wear any of the clothes hung haphazardly in my closet. I didn’t like any of the clothes crumpled up on the floor at the side of our bed. I didn’t like any of the clothes stuffed into the overflowing drawers of our dresser. I threw up my hands. I had “nothing to wear”.
My wife, being the compassionate and all-around awesome woman she is, immediately started searching online for new clothes for me to try on (I hate shopping for clothes). But I kind of had a problem with that too. We’re trying to be more minimalist. We’re trying to get rid of clutter. This plan seemed to be going away from that.
You see, deep down I knew I had things to wear. The piles were clearly visible in my closet, by the bed, seeping out of the dresser. Plenty of nice clothes that I treated like crap. Yes, I had holes in my wardrobe, but I didn’t really know exactly where those holes were.
What has typically happened in the past when I whined about my wardrobe is my wife and I would go on an emergency shopping spree online or at the mall, and I’d end up with 8 new polos to pile up with the 80 other polos I already have and not really get anything new that I actually need.
This time I decided to do something different. It was time to treat what I did have with respect. So I took everything out of the closet and drawers, I picked through the piles and wrote down every thread of clothing I had. After that, I carefully folded and hung each piece of clothing. I wrote down where I put them too.
I catalogued colors, brands, materials and descriptions and put it all that info into a spreadsheet. If I could remember, I wrote down when I bought a particular piece of clothing.
And I categorized my clothes:
Tier 1 clothes are the clothes I absolutely love. Tier 2, serviceable clothes that look pretty good when layered with something else to make an interesting outfit every once in a while, or weekend wear. Tier 3, the clothes I’m pretty sure I’ll never wear again, but I’m afraid to donate just yet. Workwear, comfortable clothes with rips and stains that I can still use for doing projects around the house. And clothes for Donation. Here’s a snip of the spreadsheet:
Naturally, my 2009 MLB Central Division Champ cap that I bought right after witnessing the greatest baseball game ever, Game 163 at the Metrodome where the Minnesota Twins defeated the Detroit Tigers in a nail-biting back-and-forth 12-inning battle, is Tier 1.
Now I know exactly what I have. I have 177 pieces of clothing that I’m keeping… for now. That includes socks, underwear and undershirts, so that number is a little inflated. I know exactly where every piece of clothing is. Most importantly, I know exactly where the holes are in my wardrobe, so I don’t have to guess anymore. I can shop smartly. It turns out I really need a plain white dress shirt.
Now that I know exactly what I have, I can start to beef up the parts that are lacking and trim the excess. I can review it all on a regular basis and eventually optimize it down to a core group of mostly Tier 1 items.
And now that I’ve acknowledged every single piece of clothing and assigned them each a location, I find myself treating my clothes much, much better. Once-worn, perfectly clean dress shirts don’t pile up at the side of my bed anymore to be accidentally stepped on then unnecessarily scooped up for the next wash (Come on. I can’t be the only one that lazily peeled and dropped after a long day). My clothes should last much longer as a result.
The Bottom Line
This simple cataloguing exercise cleared the clutter and made me much more thankful for the few favorites that are left. I plan on doing a similar thing for other areas of the house, starting with my little tool closet in the basement. This will help my family on our trek to a clutter-free and more minimalist lifestyle. Hopefully, it will also help me build a year-round habit of being thankful for all the blessings in my life.
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