Photo Credit: Sharon Rowley
If one of your goals this year is to “conquer the clutter,” then here is a project you can complete in just one afternoon! You’ll feel happy that you accomplished a decluttering project and every time you go into the closet, you’ll be so happy it’s clean and organized!
Step 1: Empty Out One Section at a Time
I know that some folks swear by the rule that to properly clean a closet you need to empty the entire thing first, sort through the contents, and then put back only the things that you intend to keep. But this strategy was developed with the paid professional organizer in mind... the kind of person who isn’t going to walk away until the darn thing is perfectly finished. But for the real-life non-pro, it could be weeks before you finish your decluttering project. So my advice is to work on one section at a time instead of attempting it all. To stay organized (and keep from accidentally repeating a section!), work in a linear order of some sort. Personally, I prefer to begin any project in the furthest left-hand corner, and then work my away around the space clockwise.
Step 2: After You Empty a Section, Sort the Items into Piles Based on Destination
Every item that you touch as you are removing it from a section of the closet should be sorted into piles:
-- Keep it: because you love it, use it, need it, or want it, AND have room for it
-- Donate it: because even though you no longer want it, someone else can use it
-- Trash it: because it is worn out, useless, broken, and no one else will want it
-- Sell it for $: Craigslist and eBay are great opportunities to make a little money by getting rid of things you no longer need
-- Relocate it: if it’s something that you want to keep, but it doesn’t belong in the coat closet, then return the item to its rightful home (just make a pile for now, we’ll deal with putting it away in step 6!)
Step 3: Clean the Emptied-Out Section
This is your big chance to get rid of those lurking dust bunnies that have been hiding in the corners of the closet. So hook up the vacuum attachments and suck up all of the yuck while it is empty!
Step 4: Return the “Keeper Pile” to Its New (and Now Spacious) Home
Hanging items go on the hanger bar (obviously), but if your coats are bending the cheap wire hangers you are using, then it’s time to invest in a package of sturdy coat hangers.
Other items should be “containerized” together. If you have drawers in your closet, designate one for gloves and scarves and another for hats and umbrellas. No drawers? Group like items together in baskets, bins, or even empty shoeboxes. You’ll find it much easier to both locate what you are looking for and to return an item to its proper home if it’s in a container.
Step 5: Tackle the Next Section
Hopefully seeing the results of your hard work in the first section has you motivated and energized to attack your next target!
Step 6: Deal with the Remaining Piles
Don’t skip this step! The last thing you want to do is to create a clutter heap somewhere else in your home to deal with later! Bag up the trash and take it out. Bundle up the items for charity, and make a list of what you’re putting into the bag as you go, so you’ll have a record for tax purposes. My favorite way to donate items I don’t need is to log on to GoodDonor.org (http://www.gooddonor.org). There you can research what types of items each local charity will accept, and even schedule an appointment to have them come and pick up your stuff!
For things you intend to sell, you may want to keep an oversized bin in your home to accumulate just such goodies until you have the time to photograph them and list them on eBay or Craigslist.
And finally, return items that belong in other areas of your home to their rightful place. And may I remind you…don’t just stuff things into another closet that you’ll have to deal with later! Make sure that you really have the room to keep the items that you decided to keep.
Final Step: Celebrate!
Ahh.. doesn’t that feel better? And now you can actually see what you own and find what you need! (What a revelation, huh?)
iVoice correspondent Sharon Rowley is the Mom to 6 kids ages 7-12! Sharon blogs daily at Momof6 where she shares her ideas for Moms, and you can find her on twitter: @sharonmomof6.