Joanna Linberg

Joanna Linberg / Sunset Publishing

When Kyle Quilici and Cary Fortin of New Minimalism came to Sunset's offices, I furiously took notes and vowed allegiance to the five principles they shared with us. You see, my desk is almost always cluttered with stacks of books, tiles, fabrics, reader letters, and every piece of paper from every meeting I've been to in the last three months. "I'm really organized at home!" I told everybody who gave me serious side eye when they saw my workspace.

And it's true. I am pretty organized at home. I enjoy getting rid of items I'm not using anymore (so much so that my husband has banned me from throwing things away for a little bit). Plus I moved across the country three years ago, which is a minimalism motivator if anything is.

But listening to Kyle and Cary's advice about drastically elevating my standards, I realized a lot of the items I organized I actually don't need--like the decade's worth of magazines I hauled with me from the Midwest when we moved. I had five or six shelves of "inspiration" that I last looked at when I unpacked.

"Keeping something 'just in case' has hidden costs," Kyle and Cary said. "It requires physical space to keep it, mental space to remember where it is, and time and energy to maintain and keep it clean." With that in mind, I suddenly saw my magazines with perfect clarity: They were junk. I spent a weekend paging through each of them to find any photo or story idea I might want someday (I took photos and uploaded them to Pinterest) then hauled all of them one last time--out to the recycle bin.

Joanna Linberg / Sunset Publishing

Sure, now I need to figure out how to style my near-empty bookshelves (how about MORE BOOKS??), but Kyle and Cary weren't lying: I didn't realize the pull all those magazine issues had on my brain. With my shelves virtually clear, I actually feel more inspired to do my work here, which, ironically, is putting together a magazine.

Next up: My formidable tote bag collection.

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