Birds chirping. Bees buzzing. Pollen looming. Spring is FINALLY here and, like most people, we can’t wait to tidy up.
The urge to eliminate seems to nip at everyone’s heels; however, the urge isn’t enough to clear the clutter. We need a framework to hold us accountable and keep us motivated.
While we don’t have time to tackle your entire home today, we’ll start with something inherent to every space: CLOSETS!
Step 1: Start Simple
You’ve got at least 2 spaces in your home that you use to “stash” clothes, utility items, and other “stuff.” Pick the closet that has the least amount of things to build your confidence. There’s no need to dive into that large walk-in master closet if you’re afraid to tackle the 2×3’ hall closet. This process can be overwhelming, so give yourself time to get your bearings.
Step 2: Remove Everything
Aren’t you glad I told you to start small?! In order to declutter a closet, you’ve got to find out exactly what’s living in there. Every storage area in your home has a purpose, whether you determined that purpose, or the stuff determined it for you. Touching each item will help you decide which items belong in that space and which items will need to be moved to better, more logical places.
Step 3: Sort Like with Like
As you remove your items, group them into categories. If you’re working in a hall closet, you’ll likely have coats/hanging outerwear, seasonal accessories, bags, boots/shoes, and some must-have necessities like that lint roller. When you find odd items that aren’t like the rest, set those aside. Ask whether you really need them in this space or if they simply ended up here after a mad-dash clean up. (If you answered the latter, then you’ll be returning those pieces to their rightful homes at the end of the project.)
Step 4: Evaluate Frequency of Use
Zoom in on each group of items. If you’re working in a master closet, let’s check out those shoes first.
Pull out the ones you are wearing on a regular basis and set those aside in a new pile. Now pull out the ones that you wear occasionally and create a different pile. Are there any specialty shoes that you’ve worn only once or twice this year? Decide whether you really need those. Finally, look at what’s left — the shoes you never choose to actually wear; the ones you pull out, try on, and then toss back into the closet because they just don’t look right with your outfit or no longer fit. Take those gently worn, matching pairs and donate them to your local Goodwill. If your leftover pile has some mismatches and torn shoes, toss those in the trash. Apply these same rules to all your leftovers and watch your closets slim down before your eyes.
Step 5: Re-place + Return
Place your most frequently used items within easy reach, and your rare occasion or off-season items up high or in the back. Not only will the items you access 80% of the time be easier to pull out, they’ll also be easier to put back. If you discovered items in the closet that didn’t belong there, like Nerf gun darts, rogue Legos, or attachments to the vacuum that lives in the OTHER closet, return those items to their proper homes. If this particular closet is prone to collecting the randomness of your life, make sure you contain those pieces in a basket on the floor so that you can return those weekly.
Your closets should comfortably contain their contents. This means that your closet SHOULD have some unused space. I always encourage my clients to shoot for at least 25%. Open, unassigned space gives your items room to breathe. It also ensures that you won’t be fighting with the closet to jam things back in. (HINT: If you’re having to jam things into the closet, the closet will explode and your items, such as your clean laundry, will have to live on the bedroom floor. Don’t overfill your closets, and you’ll always be able to put away what belongs in there.)
If you discover that you have more items than will comfortably fit in your closets, revisit your categories. It typically takes 3 passes before a category is properly decluttered, so don’t get discouraged. Simply ask yourself these questions:
- Have I used this in the last 6-12 months?
- Do I love and enjoy this piece?
- Would someone else benefit more than me by having this item?
Bless others with your excess! Don’t be afraid to let go of items that still have the price tags on them. Your brand new pieces will be the bright spot for someone else who may not have dreamed of affording something so wonderful at the price you paid. Donate your new or gently used items to your local donation center, and don’t forget to grab that receipt for a tax write-off.
About Lauren Flinte
Lauren Flinte is a lover of lists, labels, and all things color-coded. She is the owner and lead organizer of Upstate Clutter Coach, a full-service professional organizing company based in Greenville, SC. Lauren, along with her team, transform chaos into categories, leaning towers into stable storage solutions, and anxiety into peace by way of editing and organizing residential and commercial spaces. Learn more at www.UpstateClutterCoach.com.