By: Tricia Romano

It was one in the morning on a Saturday night and I’d clearly gone mad. My entire apartment was upended. I couldn’t see my bed, there were clothes in vague piles everywhere, and hangers were strewn about. I was in the middle of spring cleaning—something that 73% of American households do every year as some sort of ritualistic home-ec torture.

I don’t have a very big apartment, and despite the fact that I’ve moved a half-dozen time across the country, I seem to have accumulated more stuff than I had 550 square feet of space for.

Since minimalism is all the rage right now, I had many guides on how to get rid of stuff. (Yes, there’s a method to the madness). Goodwill has a helpful list detailing how to declutter in just seven days.

There are a myriad of books from Barnes & Noble (11.2% Cashback for V.I.P. Members) on how to declutter:

Photos by Barnes & Noble

Photos by Barnes & Noble

The overall gist of most guides is this: if you haven’t used it in a year, you don’t need it. If you have numerous versions of the same item, you don’t need them all. Do it a section at a time (clothes, bathroom, kitchen), and keep going until you’ve reached minimalism nirvana.  In this new minimalist, spring clean purge, the rules are also this—you buy something new, you throw out something old.

I was on a mission. I had a closet I couldn’t find anything in; tons of clothes that I wanted to wear, or intended to fix, because they needed hemming but I never got around to it. I had books that I had last opened a decade ago but remembered liking, so I held on to them. And I had vinyl records of classic albums taking up more precious space (despite not having a real stereo system to hook my turntables up to).

That’s not even beginning to touch upon my obsessive collection of office supplies, a habit I’d developed as a freelancer because, while clothes could never be a write-off, a pad of paper was.

I’ll admit, I am not a clothes shopper, so it was weird to discover that I had so many. But there they were: clothes I had bought on sale that looked sort of OK on me if I wore it with the right bra, clothes that would have a practical use (grungy T-shirts, perfect for painting the apartment, which doesn’t actually need any painting), and clothes that I had paid a lot of money for ten years ago that were no longer in style.

So I tossed. And tossed. And tossed some more. Soon, I had filled up 10 Ikea bags and taken them to Goodwill. (After one experience of disdainful judgment from the used-clothing store buyer, I gave up and went directly past Go, did not collect $200, and went to Goodwill).

I will always love the new shiny object. But the spring purge made me feel lighter, like I could just pick up and move and fit all my belongings in one large suitcase.  A feeling of freedom.

Now, I just need to get a new black purse…

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