You Might Have Too Much Underwear.

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Seriously!? How many underpants does one human being need?!

I get it, you go to the gym or hiking and have to clean up afterwards and swap out a pair a couple days a week, but let’s be honest; you’re not Arnaaaaahlddd and you’re really only hitting the workout trail 2-3 days a week anyways.

And of course you need a pair or two of your fancy (under)pants in case of a high-caliber date night, but let’s be realistic about how often that happens…

You’re right. This isn’t really about your underwear. Technically it’s about mine. And yes, somehow it’s getting even more awkward…

If you’re reading this you’re probably interested in minimizing your life a little bit, and unfortunately for you, that conversation starts with my underwear. Well, technically it starts with a conversation I had with my underwear. It went something like this, as I was putting away my laundry and divvying up my skivvies between their function-related drawers:

“Dude!? Who needs this much underwear!?”

The conversation really got really interesting once I looked beyond my assorted loincloths…

This is really about “all of the things” and how, once I started adding them all up, I realized how they were bogging down my life to the point of being overwhelming, strangling and more uncomfortable than a pair of tighty-whities should ever be.

Continuing my slightly psychotic conversation with my clothing, I glanced over at my two large sock drawers (they’re big drawers, not giant socks, just to be clear), which by the way I had recently cleaned out and donated many pairs to Goodwill, and realized I had enough socks to cloth a small army.

Here’s the Breakdown I Came Up With Across My Vast Fleet of Clothing Reserves:

– 3 dressers, 3 closets (in a small house, mind you)
– 18+ pairs of the unmentionables I mentioned, not to mention cycling shorts and base layers
–  60+ pairs of socks (including dress, hiking, compression, and the standards)
– 16+ pairs of jeans or cargos (of which I regularly wear about 4)
– 20+ pairs of shorts (casual, hiking, cargo, and about 7 pairs of board/swim shorts)
– 60+ t-shirts, OCD-ready and neatly hung on hangers in the closet (are you f-ing kidding me!?)
– 12+ button-down business/dress shirts and polos
– 8+ business pants and slacks
– 6 pairs sweatpants (because sweatpants are hawt)
– 7 hoodies
– 4 suits and various dress blazers and vests
– 8+ jackets & coats (from dressier to general to outdoor specific)
– 15 pairs of footwear (dress, casual, hiking, trail running, water…)
– 26 hats (my vice is beanies, but I had 4 with mohawks, 7 baseball caps, and a couple fisherman style)
– 12 belts
– 14 towels and the hand towels and wash cloths to go along with them
– 8 comforters or quilts and multiple sets of sheets (for the two beds I own)

Something Has To Give – and something’s got to go

To be honest, until I really started counting things I had no idea that it was this bad. Especially troubling is the fact that I regularly donate to Goodwill to “clean out” my closets, obviously only to subconsciously make room for more crap.

So I outlined the above for a reason, to help illustrate how much time your clothes can take away from you and then how the other things around your house do the same.

First, someone has to do all of that laundry

Yes, we’re always going to be clothed, so technically there’s always going to be laundry to do, but the amount of that laundry as it’s able to pile up because of the vast reserves of excess BVDs and t-shirts we’ve amassed is the stress inducer. Second, we have to have a place to store all of that, and mine had taken over nearly all of the bedroom closet space I have in my relatively small 1100 square foot home.

But let’s move on to some of the other clutter that seems to consume my time, or at least burden my mind as it lingers in the background. Think about your own as I go through this.

Minimizing Your Kitchen, Office, and Mailbox

I have enough dishes to invite half of the neighborhood over for dinner, and the 16 wine glasses might be a bit overkill. I count at least 9 plastic water bottles and 5 stainless coffee tumblers, along with 14 different coffee mugs; Granted, I do drink a shitton of coffee, so those might be legit.

In a day where everything is going digital, I counted over 110+ magazines of various flavors (Graphic Design USA, Bon Appetit, Print, Men’s Health, GQ; the list goes on) that I had neatly stored in IKEA shelf boxes just in case I needed to reference them later, not to mention 2 stacks of up to 10 magazines each in my “inbox” on the living room and kitchen table. (Go here for a fun take how to massively reduce the mail coming to your actual mailbox.) I have at minimum 40 various cook books on shelves, along with about 150 other design and industry related books, any of which might see a grand total of 10 hours of face-time a year, combined.

My filing cabinets contain neatly organized stacks of bills from up to 7 years back which can all be found in my online accounts or at least scanned and uploaded to cloud storage for later use as needed. And the stacks of 10-15 design samples from various client projects I’ve had over the years “in case I need to send off samples” has proven futile, as my company web site and referrals seem to trump the need for physical samples.

I’ll digress into the meat and potatoes.

Stop Buying Underpants!

Actually, go to your drawers drawer right now and get rid of at least 25-50% of them, then move on to the other drawers and closets and do the same. Track it all (…not the skivvies…that would be gross) and find a goodwill donation page like this one, and log it. For extra documentation you can snap a quick pick of everything you donate and create a PDF to store for your deduction information for the tax year.

Then move on to the kitchen, bookshelves, and fire up the shredder for the filing cabinets, just making sure to scan any truly necessary documents. If you really get into the groove, head up to the attic or out to the garage or storage space and start planning your siege on craigslist or facebook to score some loot for those goodies.

Digitize. Digitize. Digitize.

Do I Sound As Monotone as I Look?

I’ve taken it a step further and plan to only own darker colored clothing so that my laundry is that much easier to do. Owning clothing primarily in darker colors means I can own less and easily throw in a load as needed since there’s no more sorting. Darker clothing means less visible stains and wear-and-tear which helps since I spend a lot of time in the outdoors and playing sports. This is a timeless hack of tech nerds and minimalists.

It adds up quickly, and if you’re not careful you’ll notice that the answer to “what are you up to this weekend” goes from “hiking such-and-such” to “I wanted to hike such-and-such, but I have to catch up on laundry and house chores.”

If your goal is to be able to travel more or spend more time outside, you have to release yourself of the burdens of “all of the things” that end up controlling you and your time.

Look At Me Now!

I’ve ushered out hundreds of pounds of paper, clothing, and essentially “junk” from my home over the past 3-4 weeks, and at the same time made about $4500+ off of craiglist for some bigger things from my garage and attic. The space those things have cleared in my home and my mind are just as good as the loot it’s generated for my next excursion!

I hope cleaning out your closet is as liberating for you as it was for me. It takes some time, but keep at it and you’ll be happier, I promise.



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