Week 3: De-Cluttering Your Closet

For the past two weeks our focus has been on what we might call "interior work," as we unearthed the causes of chaos and made our best effort to understand time.

Now it's time to start creating our new, improved living and working environments. Are you ready to put down your pens and roll up your sleeves? Here are a few things to do as you get ready for your first Zen organizing project:

  • Using your weekly planner, find a block of five hours to work on your closet.
  • Be sure this will be uninterrupted time. Do you need a baby-sitter? Can you shut off the outside world for the time allotted? This means no cell phones, no pagers, and the answering machine turned on.
  • Work at your peak time during the day (early morning or evening, for instance).
  • Be sure to feed your brain a healthy meal before you start.
  • Have healthy snacks and lots of water on hand.
  • Create the soothing work environment you'll need to be productive: Shut off the TV and the radio, or rock on with music.
  • Check the lists provided and see if you need to make any purchases such as new hangers or shoe racks.
  • Have a box of sturdy trash bags on hand for those items in search of a new home. And what do I have in mind?
    1. Clothes destined for charity can go in one bag.
    2. Items for specific family members or friends go in another.
    3. Anything going to the dry cleaners should be separated out, as should items that need laundering.
    4. Finally, let's get tough and admit that some things will indeed go in the trash. They are tired and want a rest: Don't feel guilty.


Ready to begin the joyous task of creating the first piece of your newly organized environment? Here's everything you need to create the closet of your dreams:
1. Start with this checklist for an organized closet that can be printed out and tacked up while you work.
2. Next, a list of design tips in case you have a closet that is too long, too small or too anything else.
3. Inspiration from the story of a famous actress whose life was mirrored in her closet. (Does the idea sound familiar to you?)
4. Lastly, a short primer on the emotional issues women face in organizing a closet. These include the drama of too many clothes, what amounts to several wardrobes in varying sizes and your children's baby clothes.

Once you've finished tackling your closet to the best of your ability, its time to understand how organizing this easily cluttered space made you feel. Whether or not you fully completed this task, it's important to answer these following questions.

  1. Have you ever tried to organize your closet before? How successful were you? If you weren?t successful the last time you tried to organize your closet, or if you weren't able to maintain the order you created, how is this time different?
  2. Was this an easy task for you? Or was your closet the source of an emotional avalanche as your began taking it apart?
  3. If the latter was true for you, why? Did you have a lot of clothes from a previous time in your life (college, pre-marriage and baby etc)?
  4. Was your closet harboring a lot of 'stuff' unrelated to clothing like holiday decorations, children?s toys and unfinished projects? Did you find appropriate homes for all of these things?

It's okay if you can't turn your closet into the space of your dreams after one week. Be sure and schedule the necessary time to organize what is unfinished after the challenge.

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