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How to Organize to Live a Minimalist Lifestyle: An Interview with Annie Traurig

If you’re finding yourself wishing to take the next steps to change your lifestyle and live minimally, then you’re in the right place. Finding ways to declutter and create a simpler lifestyle is essential in today’s world. The mental hurdle is the hardest part, and you may be asking yourself…

  • Where do I even start?
  • How do I organize to live minimally?
  • What products or tools do I need?

We met up with Seattle native Annie Traurig, a professional organizer, to learn how organization can help you live more minimally. Annie, a self-proclaimed “child organizer”, spent her childhood playdates cleaning out her friends’ closets and packing their duffle bags for summer camp. When her friends’ parents started hiring her, she realized her innate knack was a valuable service. She founded her company over a decade ago, and since then has helped countless clients — celebrities, Fortune 500 CEOs, professional athletes and fitness moguls, social media superstars and busy moms — conquer their clutter, establish healthy relationships with “stuff,” and implement stylish and sustainable organizing systems.

Meet Annie Traurig

Her Beginning: My “training” began at 5 years old when my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and I began to assume the role of family caretaker. Chronic illness is inherently complex. That tumultuousness helped me hone a desire for beauty and efficiency, and taught me to abhor clutter that unnecessarily makes life more challenging than it needs to be.

Find Annie: Instagram / Pinterest / Website
Live Simply: Live Simply is a renowned, luxury professional organizing company that has been leading the industry for over a decade. The preeminent Live Simply method goes far beyond merely organizing or color-coding objects into containers; it can transform even the most cluttered spaces and guides by first resolving the root causes of clutter. The results are increased clarity, abundance, and ease.

Interview with Annie Traurig:

What does living a minimalist lifestyle mean to you?

A: To Live Simply is to live an edited life–that is, one that contains only the essential, uplifting, and vitality-enabling elements. An edited life has total clarity of priority and allows authenticity to be the guiding force. It’s asking yourself about everything, from your pantry to your relationships: “What matters most to me?” And, “Why?” And, “Do I have this in my life because it truly lights me up and is of service to my highest wellbeing? Or is it because of some guilt, fear, scarcity BS?”

What are the benefits of an organized/minimalist lifestyle?

A: What aren’t the benefits of an edited, organized life?! Clarity. Peace of mind. Having a home that nurtures you and is your sanctuary in a chaotic world. Conscious consumerism. 

How do you make a house/closet minimalist?

A: You release anything and everything that isn’t serving you and your life at present. You release the things that you’re holding onto primarily because you’re worried you might need them in the future. You release old baggage you’re carrying around from years ago for no good reason other than that you already own them. You decide to surround yourself only with the things that enable your daily routine or that delight you to no end.

How do you encourage people to purge their closets?

A: Take everything out and look at it in a neutral context (on your bed rather than in your closet). Take the time to pick up and examine each item and ask yourself, “Do I love this?” “If I was shopping today, would I buy this?” “Does this flatter my body?” And, “Does this help me present my best self to the world?” Try on things if necessary to remind yourself how they fit. Be ruthless, and decide you’re worthy of having a closet full of things that serve you well and make you feel your best. Get rid of what doesn’t fit. Get rid of things you’re keeping just because you spent money on them. Life is hard. So throw yourself the bone of not having your closet be a landmine of guilt, shame, or insecurity.

What are your top tips for someone who is trying to declutter and reorganize their life?

A: Get to the root of the matter. Everything in a person’s life is there for some deeper reason, whether that’s fear of scarcity, overconsumption driven by insecurity, craving a level of control, or being a people-pleaser. There are so many reasons for people’s clutter, but the overarching task is to realize the mindset and behavior patterns that are resulting in clutter and work on resolving those. Once you do, things no longer have power over you, and you’re able to put them in their place properly.

What is your favorite organizing product/tool?

A: Turntables are fabulously helpful tools in kitchens and pantries. Uniform hangers in the closet make the biggest visual impact– switching out your mismatched hangers to a streamlined set is an easy task with a big payoff. Drawers under bathroom sinks are a go-to for us since they instantly provide more functional storage space. A folding step stool–cannot extol the virtues of being able to reach everything in your space enough. And a label maker! Obviously, the most essential tool in our professional kits.

Is there a project you’re most proud of? If so, what was it? 

A: There are so many transformative projects that we’ve been fortunate enough to facilitate. And as impressive as the before and after photos are, the internal transformations that occur for clients are what we’re proudest of. Watching as someone goes from utterly overwhelmed to empowered to manage their spaces never, ever gets old.

Need help creating a capsule wardrobe?

Read our blog post on how to build a capsule wardrobe.

Check out a few of our favorite items to compliment a less cluttered closet.

Ready to clean out that closet and start renting? Take our 5-minute style quiz to get started! 


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