Thursday, January 20, 2011

Clutter and Closets. . .1/20/11

The month of January, as mentioned in my last blog, seems to be the month to start anew, de-clutter and improve and somehow going back as early December, I've had a flurry of friends and readers actually write to ask me to purposely tackle organizing in a blog entry. While I fear that my "Monica Gellar" reputation precedes me I will, with great pleasure I might add, discuss that which I am apparently famous for - being neurotically clean and organized. I am what I am people and there's obviously no use hiding it. . .so why try. Here goes!

This is the email I received Monday from my friend Darlene:

I just wanted you to know, I love love love your blog!!! So Inspiring and feels so real since it's tips from someone I know and not just a magazine! My biggest monster to tackle this month is my closet! I've put it off for months and now it cannot wait any longer! Any Tips on closet organization and decluttering? For future blogging... you know?! ;)

Okay Darlene, and other readers, closets can be tricky for several reasons:
1) We tend to keep clothing out of sentimental value (i.e.: the dress we wore to prom, a skirt we wore on our first date with our husbands/boyfriends, stacks and stacks of grungy t-shirts we wear around the house and to bed, etc.);
2) We keep clothes we wore clothes before we had kids and many of us, like me, somehow believe they will fit again;
3) Lastly, we keep things because we make excuses for occasions we "could " someday wear them to, i.e.: "I might go sailing someday and it'd look so cute to wear this top with nautical shorts." Well, unless you are the type of person who randomly has out-of-the-ordinary events come up on the calendar, it's time to pack it up and send it to a new home.

I tend to toe the line between keeping unnecessary things and being overly exaggerated on giving them away. For me, articles of clothing fall into one of two categories: namely numbers 2 and 3 listed above. So, a few times a year I make it a point to purge. It's been a REALLY long time though since I've had a true, honest with myself, purge. So, thanks Darlene for inadvertently pointing out the elephant in the room. I'm going to blog about this soon but for now, let's talk about how YOU can make YOUR closet less cluttered. I have five easy steps I go by when de-cluttering closets. . .or well, any area of my home.

Step 1: Strategize
Planning your organization strategy ahead of time will not only get the job done faster but you'll start seeing results sooner. This will motivate you to keep up the good work! So, plan ahead and get the supplies you need. If you know shoes are your trouble area for example, buy door shoe hangars or racks in advance. Jewelry addict? Buy hanging jewelry dividers or drawer organizers. Get the picture?

I know that sounds horrifying but if you don't do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it again?? Removing every single thing from your closet and starting with a clean slate ensures you won't shuffle the mess around or overlook things you need to donate.

Step 3: Divide and Conquer
Tackle the closet in sections. Start from one side of the closet and work your way over to the other side in sections. For example, in my closet I have skirts hanging on a higher rod and tops beneath so when I purge or reorganize, I start with those two sections and work my way over to the right - dresses, slacks, coats and so on. If your closet is not already divided into sections, this is the time to do it. Put like items into same sections, and as a side note this will also create immediate space beneath the clothes where other items can now be stored.

Step 4: Lost and Found
Toys, random house objects, DVDs, books, etc. - things that don't belong in your closet can find their way to a place they DO belong. And so you don't get distracted, put them all in a pile to the side and then when you're done working for the day or done all together, transfer the other items to their rightful homes. Walking away each time you come across a misplaced item will only waste time and steer you away from the task.

Step 5: Triage
Just like when doctors triage patients, so must we with our closets and clutter. Be VERY honest with yourself and if you do not wear it, toss it in a pile to the side. Believe it or not, clothing can be very sentimental. It can take us to a different place and time and conjure up memories but the clothing is not the memory and keeping it will not make you remember; getting rid of it will not make you forget. If you really feel like you don't need it but can't let go, put it to the side and photograph it - if it still fits, put it on for the picture. Now, it'll always be with you :)When I struggle with ditching clothing I think of a person who could really benefit from this article of clothing. Example: after I stopped practicing law I had tons of business suits and business clothes that lingered in my closet, took up space and were growing more and more outdated with each day they spent being unused. I thought of all the women out there who couldn't afford a suit - maybe they could use one for an interview? Maybe it will improve their confidence at work? Whatever I thought, it was clear, I wasn't using them and someone else could so out they ALL went - blouses, closed-toed pumps and accessories to match too.

Also, as part of step 5, and in efforts to keep your newly organized closet organized, every time you put something IN, take something OUT. Bought a new sweater this weekend? Give away an older one that you don't wear as much.

FIVE rules of thumb. Learn them. Use them. Love them. It's that simple. Hope this helps Darlene. Love you girl :)

Some ideas for organizing your closets below. . .find them at target, Bed Bath and Beyond, The Container Store, Wal-Mart, Ikea, and online.

Love this idea because now a shoe organizer can organize ANY part of your life - kitchen, office, closet. . .


Iglesia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Loved this one, we all need that help! I have the same bug since the year started: to clean, clean and DECLUTTER. Thanks M for taking the time to write in so much detail and help us all along in our shared duties of keeping our homes (mainly) decluttered :)