Ep #103: Embracing Minimalism to Up-Level Your Life with Shira Gill

Embracing Minimalism to Up-Level Your Life with Shira Gill

My guest on the podcast this week is the one and only Shira Gill! Shira is a self-proclaimed ‘life editor’ and the creative force behind Shira Gill Home, a lifestyle brand that merges minimalism, organization, life coaching, and styling. Shira’s virtual makeover programs have been taken by over 1000 women from all over the world, and her work has been featured in some amazing publications.

Shira’s work revolves around figuring out exactly what her clients want in their homes and helps them cut the clutter and clear all the stuff in the way to up-level every aspect of their lives. As an aspiring minimalist, Shira has embraced the balance of beauty and fashion and everything fun that we all love, with limits and boundaries to prevent overwhelm, which she filters into the work she does with her clients. 

Join us this week as Shira shares some really helpful tips on how to start living the life you dream of by clearing your stuff and creating more white space. Having a space that supports you and your goals can be absolutely transformational in every aspect of your life, at home and in business. Shira is here to shed some wisdom on how you can start to apply this work everywhere in your life, from big spaces to a drawer in your closet, using her simple four-step process. Make sure to follow her to stay updated on her upcoming book, MINIMALISTA, coming out early next year!

If you want to keep this conversation going, you have to join my free Design You Podcast community on Facebook. We have great conversations over there about the podcast episodes and our podcast guests are in there too! So head on over and I’ll see you there! 

What You'll Learn From This Episode

  • How Shira helps her clients up-level their lives by clearing out clutter.
  • What motivates Shira to do this kind of work and live a minimalist life.
  • How life coaching filters into Shira’s work around minimalism and decluttering.
  • The types of questions to start asking yourself when cutting clutter, instead of the ones that leave you feeling stuck and unsure.
  • How Shira helps people get rid of physical items that aren’t serving them.
  • Why clutter is so costly to your life.
  • Shira’s four simple steps for starting to create a space that supports you and your goals.
  • The rule Shira lives by to prevent buying things on a whim.

Featured On The Show

Full Episode Transcript

Tobi Fairley: You are listening to The Design You Podcast with Tobi Fairley, episode number 103.

Female Announcer: Welcome to The Design You Podcast, a show where interior designers and creatives learn to say no to busy and say yes to more health, wealth, and joy. Here’s your host Tobi Fairley.

Tobi Fairley: Hey, hey, friends. I hope you’re not attached to your stuff today because we’re going to be talking about how to get rid of some of it. One of my favorite topics. Perfect for spring cleaning. The time is now, and the beautiful thing about it is we’re going to talk to you today about how getting rid of stuff in your home, or your wardrobe, and even in your mindset, is going to take you to the best version of yourself.

Today, I have Shira Gill, and she said she used to call herself a home organizer, but now she calls herself a life editor. I love it. You’re about to hear why, and what that means, and exactly how you can take the ideas and the techniques that Shira teaches and apply them to your own home, your own wardrobe, and your own brain. Okay? So, hop into this episode, and learn a lot, and I’ll see you on the other side.

Hey, Shira. Welcome to the Design You Podcast.

Shira Gill: Thank you, I’m so excited to be here.

Tobi Fairley: I know, so fun. So, we actually are just kind of meeting each other, but we know who each other are because we run in the same circle. We both come from training at The Life Coach School, and we have lots of common friends, but we also have a lot of common mindset, and even a similar job in a lot of ways. Tell everybody who you are, what you do. You’ve got some exciting news. So, set the scene for us of who Shira is, and then we’ll get into some goodness that you’re going to share with us today.

Shira Gill: Okay, I love it. I’m Shira Gill. I founded my business, Shira Gill Home, 10 years ago now, and people call me a life editor. I’ve been trying to figure out the right title for years, and I think that’s the one that nails it. So, essentially, I’m a combination of a home organizer, a life coach, and a stylist. Really, the work that I do is I help people figure out exactly what they want in their lives and in their homes, and cut all the clutter, all the stuff that’s in the way. I am like a clutter coach.

Tobi Fairley: I love that, which is so huge, so important. I know we’ll get into all kinds of stuff because the only thing that I think a lot of people know about or think about when they think of clutter is Marie Kondo. Not that anything is wrong with Marie Kondo, but there’s so much more to this process than the holding something to your chest and saying, “Does this move me?” Right?

Shira Gill: Yes. Yeah, 100%. I love me some Marie Kondo.

Tobi Fairley: Me too.

Shira Gill: But I am a busy working mom, and I have found most of my clients are busy working moms, and I have heard a lot like, “I just don’t have time. I’m so overwhelmed, but I do want to make a difference.” So, my exciting news is I am actually writing a book.

It will come out next year with Penguin Random House, and it’s called MINIMALISTA, and it’s practical, actionable tips to get organized, feel better, dress better, and really up level every aspect of your life using primarily the principles of minimalism and home organizing that I use in my work with clients.

Tobi Fairley: That’s amazing. Let’s get into this. I love this title of life editor because I was like, “So, what are you? Are you a designer? Are you an organizer?” I know you’re all those things. You’re a life coach, and you’re like, “Well, people call me a life editor,” and I was like, “Yes, that’s so it.” It is.

You’re editing the physical. You’re editing the mental stuff. What does that look like? How do you even get started in this process with someone? They come to you, they’re overwhelmed, the cutter is overwhelming, the mind’s overwhelming. How does that work?

Shira Gill: It’s all overwhelming. Yes. I do have to say the life editor took 10 years, and one of my clients came up with it this year. So, kudos to her.

Tobi Fairley: So, all those people who are out there trying to figure out what they are, their tagline, or their thing, just settle in because it’s going to be a while, and it’ll come from out of the blue.

Shira Gill: Yeah, or ask your client because I was like, “Okay, I edit, I organize, I style, I coach. What am I?” One of my clients said, “Well, you’re a life editor. You cut the clutter. You cut to the chase.” So, basically, when I founded my business, I’ve always marketed myself primarily as a home organizer, but my work is very informed by minimalism.

I am an aspiring minimalist, so I love all the pretty things. I love design, I love fashion, but I don’t like clutter. It’s an interesting balance that I’ve had to figure out for myself of how do you love and embrace fashion, and new trends, and design, and all of this fun stuff while also having limits, and boundaries, and not getting in over your head?

When people come to meet, typically it’s, “I’m so overwhelmed by all this stuff in my house. I can’t find things. I’m embarrassed to have people over. My workspace doesn’t feel professional. I am so together in the rest of my life, but my physical space doesn’t reflect who I want to be.”

So, I always start the process, this is where the life coaching comes in, with first of all, just clarifying. Where do you want to go? What are your dreams for your future? What are your goals? What would your ideal life really look like, and flushing that out and getting it very specific?

Once people can put a handle on that and really be honest, whatever that answer is, then you can start to look around and say, “Well, then what is actually serving me and helping to get me closer to this vision, and what is just in a way creating clutter and noise?

Tobi Fairley: I love that. That’s so good. Let’s just sit with that for a minute because I think people aren’t even asking that. They don’t even know. They’re not even aware, and that’s such a great question. It’s so much better even than the, “Does this move me?” or, “Am I attached to this?” which we can get into because that gets people to a really tricky place sometimes.

Shira Gill: Totally.

Tobi Fairley: There’s all kinds of other reasons you’re attached to things, but asking the question, “Is this serving me really in some way or moving me closer to my goals?” I think is a much better question.

Shira Gill: Yeah, I have found that because so many of my clients get stuck with the, “Is it useful? Could it be useful? Could I need it one day?” I think those questions leave you feeling really stuck and like, “Well, yeah, everything could be useful. You might need anything,” but it’s rooted more in fear and scarcity. So, I really like to go towards, “Well, what is it that you want? What is the ideal that we’re trying to create and cultivate, and does this thing help get you there or not? Let’s make it really simple and black and white.”

Tobi Fairley: Can you give us an example of what that might look like for someone, so we can understand, really see ourselves in that what does she mean exactly of like, “Does this help me get to where I want to go?”

Shira Gill: Yeah, I can give so many examples. My clients have so many different types of goals, but maybe one is I have a client right now who’s a really overwhelmed mom with three kids under the age of 10, and she wants to be able to host play dates for her kids. She wants to be able to have friends over for a glass of wine, and her house looks like a bomb went off.

So, she’s literally not able to do the things in her life that she wants to do. Something as simple as hosting a play date for her son, she feels like, “This stuff is standing in the way of me doing that.” So, then we start to look at the toys in the living room, not from the perspective of are these great toys, but let’s look at volume. How many toys can you manage? How many toys can your kid manage and clean up every day?

What kind of white space do we want to have so your kid can just actually play, and run around, and be creative? What would it look like to have people over? What are the practical things like seating? Are there places to sit in this room? There’s all of those questions with that kind of specific goal.

Then I work with people often that are going through a big life transition. So, maybe someone who’s just gone through a divorce, and they want to start fresh, and they really want to feel like they are able to date, and they’re able to welcome a new person into their space. What does that look like and feel like?

Or maybe somebody who’s starting a new business or launching a career, and they want to feel like they can work from home, and host a video call, and not feel mortified at what their background looks like. Once you get really clear about those things that you want that you’re moving towards, then the stuff becomes much easier to make decisions about.

Tobi Fairley: Let’s go there because I talk to people about this as well, and I think it’s really fascinating, and this comes into play not just with things, physical things in your home, but even just constraining in your life. Constraining what you want to do, and are we going to do it all at the same time? I feel like it’s the same mindset of making decisions, and I think people get really attached to things.

I know that they get attached to something because there was a cost of it, like a sunk cost. I’ve heard and read the research that people will do way more to hang onto something they already own, even pay to store it, even though they’re never going to use it, more than they would to buy something new or that would serve them differently. So, how do you do that? How do you help people say goodbye to things?

Shira Gill: Well, there’s a lot of questions I ask. One of them is would you buy this full price and bring it into your home today? Most of the time, the answer is no. Really, I am very focused on what do you want to create, and being really intentional with your life and your space. My belief is that your space needs to support your ideal life.

For me, I’ll give you an example in my life, I knew I have two girls, I wanted to be able to host, and have play dates, and have birthday parties. So, I wanted to never feel embarrassed of our home, or that there was just too much to manage. I also love traveling, and so I had this vision of being able to rent our home, and put it on Airbnb, and be a host for people all around the world.

So, that really motivated me to strip away all the excess and really set up my home so it actually felt like a boutique hotel. On a day to day for us, we get to have that benefit, but then we get to go fly to Paris and have that funded by people who are paying to be in our home. For me, it’s coming back to when that vision and that compelling why is strong enough, then it becomes exponentially easier to make those tough cuts.

For me, looking at, “Okay, I want to Airbnb my house,” then having 32 mismatched mugs doesn’t really support that vision, but maybe having eight white matching mugs, now, we’re talking. Now, that’s getting me closer to that vision of I can rent my house and be proud of it.

So, when somebody gets stuck, I find it’s typically that they’ve lost the vision, and they’ve gotten distracted by shame, or guilt, or overwhelm. Sometimes people just get paralyzed. They literally get overwhelmed by all of the stuff in their home, and where do I even start?

For that, getting back to your point about constraint, is I always want to focus on small, little wins, little victories. Even if we’re just going one drawer at a time, I want that drawer to be edited, organized, styled with drawer dividers, dialed in, and then we’ll move on to the next thing.

Tobi Fairley: Oh, yeah. So fun. I love that so much. I’m such a nerd about organizing too, and even just you describing that, I’m like, “Oh, I can’t wait for her book. I want to see the pictures of which organizers and which dividers and all the things.”

Shira Gill: Oh, yeah.

Tobi Fairley: Yeah, so much fun. It’s so, so good. Let’s see. So, let’s talk about workspaces a little bit because that’s definitely something that’s important to a lot of us. Of course, our whole home is important, and I think it sets you up for being great at work, the way you live every day, but then when it’s time to go into your workspace to focus, to start to make money, you actually have some very specific ideas. You’ve even created a course around this whole concept. What is it that you’re doing? Maximizing what in your workspace?

Shira Gill: Well, I have a program called the Virtual Workspace Makeover, and in it, I basically coach people on the full process of how to edit, organize, and style your workspace and maintain it. It’s all about setting up your space for success.

I got so many inquiries about paper, specifically paper clutter, and the desk piles, and so many people both running their own businesses from home, or even out in the world entrepreneurs, or people who have an off-site workspace where they were feeling like, “I feel like a fraud because I have this jungle on my desk of random stuff, and old coffee mugs, and piles of paper, and where do I even start?”

So, I basically broke down my process into four simple steps. The first step is all about clearing your workspace so you have a clean slate to sit down at. I think that’s the most important thing, that when you sit down to work, you don’t have visual clutter screaming for your attention. Everything in our space is stimulating in some way. It’s going to be stimulating in a good way or in a distracting, negative way.

My first step, the first lesson in the program, is just all about how do you clear your workspace and set up one centralized place for the papers and the to-do’s that you have to do. Then we get into paper wrangling. I have really simplified it because I hate filing. A little confession, I’m an organizer who hates filing.

So, I have figured out how to make paper wrangling as simple as possible and break it down into these big, broad categories where even a five-year-old could do it so that it’s easy to maintain. Then I take you through all the various things in your space like the knickknacks, and the chachkies, and the stationary, and the Post-its. I find there is a lot of office supply hoarding that goes on in the world. So, my big thing with that is store it at the store. Office Depot exists for a reason.

You need to really figure out what are the tools that I need to get my job done, and everything else, leave it at the store. We go through the books, and the magazines, and the office supplies, and the knickknacks. Then the last step of the program is setting up and styling your space so that it serves you, and your profession, your career. Whatever goals you’re going after, your space actually rises up to meet you.

Tobi Fairley: I love it. I love all of that. When you were talking about the hoarding of office supplies, it was bringing to mind something that I thought about earlier when you were talking too, and I know it plays a role in this, which is this whole habit that we have to buffer our emotions by purchasing things. Right?

Shira Gill: Yes.

Tobi Fairley: I know that has to play a huge role in what you do. So, let’s talk about that. I think my audience knows, they’ve heard me use the term buffer, but basically, numbing our negative emotions that we don’t want to feel by doing something else, whether it’s eating or drinking. For your clients, I’m sure it’s shopping, purchasing things that they don’t need.

It gives you that little, exciting dopamine hit, and then you end up with all of these things that you couldn’t use that many Post-it notes if you used one every 15 seconds, and you’ve got every color and every size. It’s not just office supplies. It’s clothing. We’ll get into you help people with their wardrobe and their closet, but let’s talk about the whole buffering piece when it comes into the work that you do.

Shira Gill: It’s huge, and it’s such a fascinating topic. I am guilty as charged. If I’m having a rough day or going through something, I have often found myself going to Amazon or shopping for a new handbag. Now, we have these tools to slow down and take a breath and say, “Is this behavior numbing or buffering, or is it actually nourishing? Am I conscious of what I’m doing. Do I like my reasons for doing it? Is this something that I’ve thought about and budgeted for, or is this impulsive?”

When I start working with clients who are overwhelmed by clutter in any area in their life, I always love to start by just saying, “Let’s press pause and do a purchase pause.” Even for one month can be so impactful to start to pay attention to those urges. When are you wanting to shop? What’s really going on underneath the surface? Often for people, there’s a lot of heavy stuff to deal with.

As you know, if you stop any buffering behavior like eating, or drinking, or shopping, or smoking, if you take away that behavior that gives you the distraction, you’re going to have to deal with a lot of negative or uncomfortable emotion.

Tobi Fairley: Absolutely.

Shira Gill: So, it’s tough work, but it is so well worth it to get to the other side where you feel truly empowered, and like the choices that you’re making when you’re shopping are good, positive choices, and that the things that you’re choosing to bring into your home and your life, you’ve made that decision from a good, strong, grounded place instead of like, “Oh, it feels good in the moment, and wouldn’t it feel nice to like send on the Amazon cart?”

So, it’s about slowing it down. I think even just starting to become aware of your habits. I put myself on a spending freeze for a month in December, if you can believe it. The height of consumerism and holiday pressure, and I was shocked at how much my brain told me I needed to buy something. It was on sale. What if it goes away?

What I would do is I would just write down every time I wanted to buy something. I’d write down what it was and put it on a list. It kind of soothed my brain like, “Okay, I hear you. We’re getting it down.” Then the next day, I wouldn’t even remember what it was. That thing that felt so urgent and pressing.

Tobi Fairley: Yes, yes, yes, yes. I love that. That’s so good. That’s such a beautiful way to do it. It’s like a wish list, kind of like your Christmas list, but just your ongoing wish list that anytime you think of it, you just put it on there instead of purchasing it.

Shira Gill: Yeah, and you know what’s so cool about it? I had a long list of all the fun things that I thought I needed to buy for myself, or my kids, or someone else. My rule with myself was at the end of the month, I could look at that list and buy whatever I still wanted.

When I looked at it a month later, there were two things that I wanted, and one of them was a pepper mill because there was this really pretty pepper mill, and we actually needed a pepper mill. It was fascinating to me to just start to get curious about my brain and to watch those urges and that, “Oh, I want this now, and it feels so important.” But if you’re willing to take a deep breath, write it down, it goes away so quickly, if you can allow it and breathe through it.

Tobi Fairley: Absolutely. Yes, I love that. That’s so, so good. That’s amazing. I love that. I’m sure that comes into play a lot when you’re talking about wardrobe too because it’s so easy to just buy a new top, or I need that pair of earrings, or we think we need 7 billion pairs of shoes. Right?

Shira Gill: Yeah.

Tobi Fairley: We need all the things. Especially if I’m feeling not so great about myself in some way or something stressful, I can always find a reason to buy shoes because my shoe size does not change even when I can’t fit in my pants. So, how does this come into play? Let’s start digging into the whole idea of the closet and the wardrobe.

I know that you work with people not only in the same way about what are their goals and how they want to present themselves more professionally, or whatever way they want to present themselves. So, take us on that path of not only the purchasing with the clothing, but let’s talk about the whole thing.

Shira Gill: Well, the closet is my favorite room in the house. I love it so much. It’s my favorite space to work on with people. The reason is you start and you end your day in your closet. You decide what am I putting on my body? It’s so personal. How am I going to show up today? How am I going to present myself to the world? I think most people are so busy and have so much going on, they don’t slow down to really think about those questions.

I love also thinking about what in your closet actually fits and flatters your current body and makes sense for your actual real life, and what is just taking up space and gathering dust. My process in the closet is similar to my process for any space. Namely, you start with what do I want? How do I want to feel? How do I want to dress? How do I want to show up? How would I want other people to describe me out in the world?

Then it’s getting down and dirty in your closet by taking everything out, and looking at it with fresh eyes, and really questioning like, “Does this fit me? Does it flatter my body? Do I even like this fabric or this print? Would I buy this and bring this into my life today?”

So, I take people through this process. Actually, my signature virtual program that has been taken by women on every continent in the world is the Closet Makeover Program. I think it’s because it is so universal. Your clothes, and how you show up, and what you wear is something every human being has to think about and has to deal with.

What I love is how impactful making a change in that space can be and to have a ripple effect to your entire life. So, just by taking the time to really think about are the things in my closet reflective of who I want to be, how I want to show up, how I want to dress in the world? Are these things that even reflect my morals and my ethics? Are they sustainable? Do I like where they come from? Do I like what fabrics they’re made of?

Really, taking the time to question that, and then strip away everything that’s a no. I went through this process and ended up with about 30 things from probably hundreds at some point in my life. What I found, which I love so much, is by getting rid of all of those things, I dress better. It’s so easy to get dressed because I only own my favorite things now.

Whereas before, my favorite things were buried into the mix with all the other mediocre things. I got rid of all the mediocre things. So, now, there’s just my very favorite things that I love wearing, that I feel good in, that fit my body, and so when I go to get dressed, it’s pick a top, pick a bottom, done. I’ve done all that work ahead of time.

That is what I coach people through that process, and it’s so different for everyone what those answers are. My 30 items for someone else might be 60 items or 80 items. There is no perfect amount. There’s just the perfect amount for you, but that’s the goal of this whole process, is really taking the time to figure it out and do it on purpose instead of just living by default.

Like, “Oh, I don’t know. All this stuff ended up here. People gave me things. I got hand me downs,” to really look at what do I want in my closet, what do I want to wear? I really think that process can be so impactful to your career, to your finances, to your personal life, to your confidence, all the things.

Tobi Fairley: Do you help people also with the whole styling component of that? I was just thinking as you were talking too. Whether it’s the home or in the closet, there are people who are just like, “I don’t know. I guess I could pick some concept images. I can pick some things off of Instagram, or Pinterest, or tear something out of a magazine and say, ‘I like how this looks,’” but what if they don’t really know what they want their home to look like, or they don’t really have that eye for style or detail in their home or in their closet? How do they start to clarify what’s the right thing for them?

Shira Gill: I love that question because there are people that really know and just didn’t have the time, and there are people that really feel totally lost. So, I like to approach the process as being really curious, and playing detective, and starting to look for clues. Say it’s your home. When you go to other homes, what are the things that you really like and respond to?

Start paying attention to those things that are consistent, that you start noticing what are the colors that just soothe me when I’m in a space? What are the textures I like in terms of a couch or a bed? Do I like upholstery? Do I like wood? Really, it is a process that takes some time and energy, but you have to just start with curiosity and asking yourself those questions. What do I respond to? What do I like?

Sometimes it’s what do I hate? That’s a good place to start. What are the colors that I never want in my home and I never want to put on my body? Great, check those off. Next, what are the ones that I feel brighten up my face, and I look really good in, and I always get compliments when I wear?

Then in terms of clothes, I think a lot of it is just dressing for your body and embracing the body that you have. If that’s something that you feel like you need help or support with, yes, I support people that I work one on one with. But even just going to your local department store and saying, “Hey, I really want to dress for my body, and I want an honest opinion about what looks good.”

Your local shopkeeper is there to help you. I always advise people like, “Pick a store where you feel like I’m attracted to the garments in this store.” You’re starting with a place of, “Yes, I connect with this,” but then there are people that will help you. Those people will help for free. They’re stylists, wardrobe coaches. I’m all for asking for all the help that you need.

Tobi Fairley: Me too. I love professionals in any regard that bring expertise. I love all of that. Well, and I was thinking just personally. Of course, in every podcast I do, I always am putting myself in the place of whatever you’re talking about. I love to organize. I have no trouble getting rid of things.

In fact, as we’re talking, I’m literally getting the itch because I probably purge and reorganize things at least two to three times a year. Then my busier seasons, I want to do it again. I’m sitting here going, “Oh.” I was literally thinking of items in my closet right now. I’m like, “Yeah, that can go, that can go, that can go.”

What I was also thinking about that was interesting because actually, it was just earlier today working on a lot of new clothing for a huge photo shoot I’m doing next week, and I’m very particular, and I know what looks good on my body, and I do all the things you said about only buying what I like, but here’s what happens afterwards. I go to the same eight items, and I wear those over and over again. I call them my uniforms, and I know everybody does this, and I don’t want to do that. I want to be motivated more often to wear the things I have and remember what I have.

I know one time I had an app that you can put everything in, which I’m sure that that can work. Maybe I didn’t have the right one or the right mindset about it. Whether it’s china, or a sweater, or a scarf, or a certain pair of earrings that you love, how do you make sure that you’re rotating those things in your wardrobe and using the things you have?

I’m pretty good at it, especially even with entertaining, and I do only keep things I really love, but I would love to be, especially in my wardrobe, better about not putting on, because I’m working now a lot like you do, I’m sure, on the computer, and recording podcasts, and things in my membership. I’m just doing a call, and I will literally put on the same pair of leggings and the same sweater every week. When it’s dirty I’m like, “Where is it?” And there’s like 70 other things hanging in my closet that I could be choosing.

Shira Gill: Yes. Well, a few things. Number one, you know I’m a minimalist, so I’m all about owning less so there isn’t overwhelm, so that the things that you own, you really do love all of them, and you don’t have to make the process complicated with apps or programs to see what clothes you have. I want it to be so simple for people to get dressed, but of course, most people own more clothes than I do.

So, in terms of not forgetting about the gems, a lot of it is just organization. I love to organize by both type and color specifically in a closet. You get to see at a glance, “Okay, here’s all my tank tops in rainbow order. I want an orange tank top today. Boom, there it is.” Likewise, just broad categories and knowing that the stuff that’s really seasonal, or occasional, or formal, or a costume is not front and center, so you’re not having to navigate through those things.

I talk a lot in my program about prime real estate areas should be stocked just like a boutique where they merchandise all the best stuff. So, I would say you want to go and pull out all your favorite things, and then merchandise your space, whatever space it is. So, the things you love and you want to get more use out of are front and center and at arm’s reach, and you’re not having to navigate through and comb through all the other stuff to find your favorite stuff.

Of course, my big answer is you’ve got to get rid of all the mediocre stuff. I used to wear like nonsense lounge wear because I owned it and it was available. Then I just decided, “I don’t even want this to be an option because if it’s an option, I’m going to grab it because it’s easy and comfortable, and whatever, it’s sitting there.”

So, I decided I only want to have one or two outfits to lounge in my house, but I want them to be amazing quality, super stylish, fit my body, and I’m going to take the time to invest in those. Then I open my drawer, and there it is waiting for me. I even apply this to workout stuff. I think it’s really easy to think, “Well, I’m just working out. Who cares?” But I think it’s really important to care because you’re sending a message constantly like, “I’m worth it. I’m investing in myself. I’m showing up as my best self. I’m not going to wear the ratty sweats from college today. I’m going to wear maybe like the Lulu Lemon leggings that make my butt look super cute.”

So, I’m all about up leveling those little things. Even your socks, or the soap you wash your hands with, or how you set up your dish towels in your kitchen. Let’s have those be nice, pretty dish towels that you enjoy drying the dishes with. It’s up leveling and constraining.

Tobi Fairley: I love it. Well, I’m going to go do a whole new pass through because honestly, I laugh. I clean out my closet so often, at least once a quarter, because I have things we talked about like for shoots or for whatever, and we’ll buy certain colors of things, or I’ll just wear something as my uniform for a whole season, and then it really kind of is a little worn out, and it’s ready to go. It’s okay to me.

Some of those things were somewhat disposable, and then there’s other things that, of course, are not that are more valuable, but I’ll get rid of 30 things or more, a huge pile of things, every time I cleaned out my closet. My husband, I’m like, “Okay, clean out yours.” He’s like, “Here’s three shirts.” It’s not because he’s a minimalist. It’s because there’s like 700 other ones in there, but I let him do his own closet. He’s like, “Yeah, here’s a t-shirt.” I’m like, “Dude, look at my pile, and it looks like that every quarter.”

Yeah, it’s interesting. So, fascinating. I’m going to have to get my head around this a little bit, especially when my job is sort of to have all these great clothes on Instagram. I find myself actually having more clothes now that I’m creating a lot of original content and a lot of things. Maybe I just need to Rent the Runway or one of those places for my photos, so that I don’t own all those things. Yeah.

Shira Gill: Here’s what I should offer because I think minimalism can sound so stark and restrictive. What I want to emphasize, when I see I own roughly 30 things, I swap them out all the time. Like you, I’m doing photo shoots, I’m on Instagram. I like to freshen it up. I love style and fashion, but for me, what I’ve committed to is this constraint and this boundary around if I’m consuming something and bringing a new thing into my house, a similar thing is going to go.

So, I want to buy that new cute pair of shoes, which pair of shoes is going out the door? It is like a revolving door. I don’t get bored. I don’t feel like, “Oh, it’s so boring, and I’m staring at the same things every day,” because I do give myself permission to do the seasonal swap or one in one out.

The other thing that I found is that the less I have, the more creative I am in terms of how I dress and coming up with new combinations, layering in a different way, accessorizing in a different way. I think it can be super fun to have that creative constraint of how many outfits can I make out of 10 things?

Tobi Fairley: That’s exactly what I need right there. That’s what you need to teach me how to do.

Shira Gill: All right.

Tobi Fairley: I think I get lazy, and I just am like, “Just buy the whole new thing.” It’s just easier to get the new outfit for the new situation or the new photo shoot, and I’m not as good at shopping my own closet other than that handful of probably my 30 items or less that are my uniforms that I keep wearing over and over again.

Shira Gill: Right. Well, the statistic I’ve heard is people wear 20% of their closet typically, and the rest just provides them with the sense of having options, but you know what you like, and you know what you’re wearing. The other thing I’ll offer, you’re going to be like, “This lady is cray-cray.”

Tobi Fairley: No, I’m sure I’m already going to love it. I know because I’m with you already.

Shira Gill: I have one black dress that I have worn to every wedding and special event for the past 10 years. It is super simple. It’s a strapless maxi dress to the floor, so I can wear it to a black tie event, a wedding, a bar mitzvah, you name it. For me, it’s like this canvas that then I get to mix up. What are the shoes I’m going to do? What’s the layer that’s going to go over it? What are my accessories? Am I going to do something fun with my lipstick? Here’s what I have to tell you. Nobody has ever noticed.

Tobi Fairley: That’s amazing. I love it.

Shira Gill: That’s crazy, right? I just read about this lady who wore a black dress every day she lives in New York City for 30 days, and just mixed up her accessories, and her scarves, and her makeup, and nobody noticed. Nobody cares.

Tobi Fairley: I’m so inspired by that. I love that so much. Yes, that has been something that I’ve wanted to be better at. I’m really great at it in the home. In fact, I get my home set, and I get my clients’ home set, and they’re functional, and I’m with you about getting rid of all the stuff you don’t love or need, and just don’t mess with it.

People are like, “Oh, do you move your furniture around all the time? I bet it’s so fun at your house.” I’m like, “No, we design it, and it looks like that for 10 years until it’s time to redesign, or maybe a thing or two swapped out, but like very little do I ever touch.” It’s definitely not that every weekend I’m in there switching the furniture layout around because I believe there’s a certain way that it really works best, and it makes the most sense and the most function, and I get it.

So, yeah, I got to bring those tactics over to my wardrobe a little bit more, which is so fun because when I’m honest with myself, I’m like, “You only wear the same things over and over.” So, I love it. You’ve inspired me. Okay. Anything else that we want to leave people with because really, I think the big takeaway for me is decide what you want, whether it’s in your home or your closet.

It’s really the bigger picture. You decide what you want in your life and see where your home and your wardrobe, or really any of the things that you have that you own, play a role in becoming that version of yourself. Right?

Shira Gill: Exactly. Are they supporting you and helping you get closer to where you want to be, or are they distracting you and slowing you down? I think the last takeaway I’d love to leave is just the idea of investing in fewer, better things, whether it’s in your closet, or in your home, or any area of your life.

There is so much pressure to consume all the time, and buy all the things, and have this instant gratification, but I have found by really slowing down and buying one or two really nice, high quality things that I’m going to love, I take better care of them, I respect them, I show up better, I feel like my house looks better, and I look better.

So, just the idea of really slowing down that practice of instant gratification, and fast fashion, and fast home decor, and really taking that time to think about what do I want? What is the ideal? Even if I have to save up for it, let me get the right thing once instead of buying it again and again in cheap, poorly made versions, and then eventually getting what I really wanted in the first place.

Tobi Fairley: Yes, I absolutely agree with you. Literally, I can’t even do this because I’m about to go out of town on this big photo shoot, but right now, I’m literally ready to go make a pile of 40 other things because I love it so much. I think that’s the thing too. For me, I’ve been able to learn to get as much pleasure out of the constraining and the getting rid of far more actually than I do with the buying.

Shira Gill: 100%.

Tobi Fairley: So much more pleasure. I feel so, I don’t know, it’s like you’ve lost 50 pounds when you get things out of your house. You can breathe, you have space.

Shira Gill: That sense of freedom and possibility is seriously the best feeling.

Tobi Fairley: Oh, yeah. One more thing before you go too. I was about to let you go, but this is what I was trying to think of earlier. I was like, “There was one more thing.” I do want to really quick touch on. I once heard, I think it was in the book You Are a Badass at Making Money or another money mindset book talking about things, and I probably even heard other people talk about this.

They said that there was a whole belief system for them that if you have too much stuff, that you’re not really attracting anything else. You’re not leaving any space for money to come in, or abundance to come in, or financial freedom to come in. I loved that, and I hung onto it so much.

It’s always in the back of my head that I need empty space in my drawers, and I need empty cupboards in the house, and closets that aren’t full to the brim. So, real quick, I just want to hear your concept on that before we wrap up about money mindsets.

Shira Gill: I love that. I think it’s that idea that you have to say no to something to say yes to something else. You can’t say yes to all the things and keep filling your space. You have to say no to create the real thing that you want. I’m just such a fan of white space in general in the home, in the closet, even in your life. As an entrepreneur myself, I find when I’m just on autopilot racing, racing, racing, I find, “Oh, my God. I can’t even think straight.”

I need to create white space in my schedule so I can slow down, and be creative, and generate new material, and write, and create, and give. So, when we’re always consuming, we don’t have the space or the creativity to abundantly create. I think just being conscious of where can you invite white space into your life and your home is such a good question to ask.

Tobi Fairley: Yeah, so good. Well, thanks for letting me detour back there for a minute. I was dying. I was like, “Oh, I’ve got to ask the money mindset thing before we leave.” Okay, so good. So much, that I’m already ready to go take a look at. I’ll probably be messaging you going, “Okay. Now, which class is it that I need to take?”

Shira Gill: Oh, goodie.

Tobi Fairley: “When does your book come out?” So much goodness there, but we will put all of that information for everybody in the show notes. Of course, we’ll be talking about this episode when it comes out all over Instagram, and we’ll tell them where to find you. When your book comes out, you’ll have to come back and tell us all about it.

Shira Gill: Yes, so fun.

Tobi Fairley: And remind us that it’s out there, and then we can do a whole other round of organizing, and cluttering, and cleaning out. Maybe we have to collaborate sometime.

Shira Gill: Oh, yeah.

Tobi Fairley: There’s so many things we could do together. So, that will be fun.

Shira Gill: I’m all in.

Tobi Fairley: Awesome.

Shira Gill: Thank you so much.

Tobi Fairley: You’re so welcome. Well, thanks for being here. I know people love it, and I wish you the best with the book, and I can’t wait to see it real. Bye.

Shira Gill: Bye.

Tobi Fairley: Okay, so cool. Right? So much great wisdom there, and how fun that Shira will have a book coming out really soon. I’ll be sure and let you know when it happens, but you don’t have to wait until later this year or early next year when that book is out. I think she said early next year. You do not have to wait until you can see the book to start making changes in your life.

So, start right now today. Promise me you’re going to get rid of some stuff. You’re going to clean up your house. You’re going to go check out Shira’s site. We have it all in the show notes. You might even need to buy one of her courses or classes. I’m all over it.

I’m getting ready to look at them too because even though I’m hyper committed to getting rid of stuff often, and getting organized, and staying organized, and purging, and I do this all the time, there’s still more improvement I can make. There’s still things that I can work on, and I know that’s true for you too.

So, I hope you loved the episode, and I can’t wait to talk with you all about this over on Instagram. So, head over and find me. Head over and find Shira. Send us a message, let us know what you think, and even show us you’re organizing projects. Okay? If you put this stuff to work, let us see what you’re doing. We want to know. We want to know how it’s changing your life. Okay? I’ll see you again right here next week with another episode of The Design You Podcast. Bye, for now.

Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of The Design You Podcast. If you’d like even more support for designing a business and a life that you love, then check out my exclusive monthly coaching program, designyou at Tobifairley.com

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Hi! I'm Tobi

I help creative women (and a few really progressive dudes) design profit-generating, soul-fulfilling businesses that let them own their schedule, upgrade their life and feel more alive than ever!

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