Over the years we have found that a common cause of clutter is that things don’t have proper homes. What does that mean? Customarily, pots and pans are stored in a kitchen cabinet. Coats are stored in the coat closet. Sheets are stored in the linen closet, and so on. However, some types of things seem to defy our natural organizing abilities. Perhaps we start out with only a one or two of the things but soon have a whole homeless collection. If you have clutter due to homeless photos, memorabilia, or other belongings here are some tips to classify, organize and contain them.
When the signs of spring begin to pop up I, for one, feel motivated to open the windows and do a little spring cleaning. Spring is a time for new beginnings, so why not honor the season by lightening up your home? Bring in some fresh air, declutter and clean. Couldn’t be bothered, you say? Spring cleaning also supercharges you. By investing the initial energy you will get more back in satisfaction, motivation, gratitude for you space and your life, and a greater sense of calm. Let’s focus on clothes closets.
Clothes closets hold all sorts of things from current clothing and footwear to memorabilia, suitcases, unused gifts, framed art, miscellany, linens, and things whose fates are as yet undecided. If you have a closet that is too jam packed to function properly, then declutter. If you struggle to find what you’re looking for, then declutter. Or if you are just ready to spiffy up a closet, then declutter. How to begin? Here are seven easy steps. Let us know how you do!
First, choose a closet to declutter. Select the one that is most annoying or one where you know many things can easily be weeded out. Often the closet itself will help you decide. Which closet is talking to you?
Second, have a goal for the end result. Will the closet be functional, orderly, pretty, spacious, or neat? Envision or verbalize the goal before beginning the decluttering project. If you don’t know what the finished product is supposed to look like how will you know when you’ve achieved it?
Third, develop a game plan. Write down tasks and dates or at least have the steps in your head. The purpose here is to be realistic in order to avoid giving up halfway through or getting sidetracked or running out of time. Consider whether you have all day to clean the closet or only an hour here and there? Is your energy boundless or do you work best in small bursts. If you are enlisting the help of someone else, when are they available? Plan estimated blocks of time on a calendar.
Fourth, gather supplies such as donation bags, trash bags, markers and labels, bins with lids, boxes, friend or other helper.
Fifth, now that you know what to declutter, have supplies on hand, and have a plan it’s time to begin. There are many ways to attack a closet. Some people recommend pulling everything out, sorting, reducing and replacing in an organized manner. Theoretically, the entire closet is completed in one fell swoop. However, this method can be overwhelming. It can lead to be a bigger mess or, worse, to frustration. It is definitely not recommended for people who are easily distracted. I suggest focusing and completing one section at a time. I firmly believe that success breeds success. Do one area well and then you will be energized to attack another area.
It doesn’t really matter where you begin. You know yourself and your closet best. Start with a shelf, hanging clothes, or stuff on the floor. If time is limited, plan to address just purses, accessories, shoes, winter jackets or slacks. Wherever you choose to begin, complete that one section before moving on. Estimate how long the task should take and set a timer to stay within your available time.
The decluttering task is simple. Sort things into two categories: KEEP and NOT KEEP. (The NOT KEEP pile can be further separated into trash, move, donate, sell, and give away boxes at this point or at the end, see below.) There is much popular advice about decluttering clothes: keep what you love, keep what brings you joy, choose only 33 items ... the list goes on. My advice is to be realistic and honest. Just go through and weed out anything that you don’t wear or use; damaged or stained clothing; scratchy or ill-fitting clothing; shoes that aren’t quite right; and gifts that you never liked. Recall your goal (or vision) as it should help you make difficult decisions. If you feel attached to clothing that you will never wear that’s okay, but limit these items to only a few. Store them in the back of the closet or in a memorabilia box on a high shelf out of the way of everyday access.
Regarding the NOT KEEP castoffs: practice efficiency over complexity. Whether you’ve chosen one destination or as many as six, the distribution of castoffs must be quick and easy. Anticipate in advance where you will bring each bag and when. Try not to be overly choosy where things will go or who will be using them. Speaking from experience, this is where many people get bogged down. Simply think that someone else will enjoy having your donations and let go.
Sixth, if you like – pretty it up. Wipe down surfaces or paint the walls. Purchase new hangers that are all alike. Buy decorative boxes for memorabilia. Find clear plastic bins to organize similar items. Invest in shoe racks that look nicer or work better. Install extra hooks or buy organizing products to handle specialty items.
Seventh, sort and label in a way that makes sense to you. Sorting options are: color, type, activity, or season. Delineate hanging sections with separators. Label shelves along their edges, hang a tag from wire shelving, or use a sticky note on the wall. Labels reinforce in our minds where to put things and where to find them again quickly.
Congratulate yourself on a job well done. Even if only a portion of the closet is completed consider it a success. More can be done at a later date now that you’ve taken the first step. Rejoice in knowing that it will be easier to find things and put things away. Feel proud that your spring cleaning is underway.
photo More closet. by motherAWESOME (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Carol Martin-Ward, encouraging practical ideas for easy organizing