If you've been clicking on and using our tips each month to help you get organized, no doubt by now you've run into some tricky spots. For example, when purging items in the family room, you came across a knickknack someone gave you. Although you don't like it and don't care all that much about the person, you didn't throw it away or donate it because it was a gift, after all.
While sorting through your bedroom you found that pair of skinny jeans you have not worn in five years. The jeans are still in great shape, and you know that, sooner or later, you're going to lose that 15 pounds and fit into them again. So you left them on the shelf or in the drawer.
Those thoughts or voices in your head are part of internal clutter, the next component of our Flexible Structure Method.™ As part of our method, we encourage you to Minimize Inside Clutter. Many of us feel overwhelmed by clutter and decide we're going to do something about it. But when we start going through the pile, we realize many reasons why we shouldn't throw that item away. Suddenly, the pile you started with on the left is now on your right. And you haven't gotten rid of anything. So to truly impact the outside clutter, you're going to have to quiet those voices, doubts and the "what if I need it again?" questions.
Watch the video below to hear more from Janice on this topic. Meanwhile, let's apply this concept to closets, which are a great example of how inside clutter can affect external clutter.
Start with one part of your closet, such as the hanging items, or the stuff on the floor or shelf. (Or grab whatever you can.) Sort through each item, listening carefully to the voices shouting in your head about why you must keep this or that. Pause and consider that for a moment. Studies show we only use 20 percent of our stuff. The main function of closets is to store stuff. But like any other part of your house, it should contain stuff you need and want and use regularly.
Learn to quiet the voices. Here's how:
Ask yourself: Under what circumstances do/will I use this item? You must give a specific reason for keeping it, such as, "I wear this skirt to work as part of my regular rotation of work clothes" or "I keep this box of mementos here because I often go through it to remember things" or this is the second set of sheets
Decide to take action. That shirt you're holding, the one you haven't worn in three years because it has a tiny tear that you're going to fix any day now? You have two options: 1) Either put it in a pile to be fixed and make an appointment on your calendar to fix it or 2) Delete it from your collection by donating or trashing it. Cracking that clutter pile means making the tough choices, and if you KNOW in your heart of hearts that you're not going to take time to find a seamstress, drop the shirt off and return the following week to pick it up, then toss it.
Donate the skinny jeans. When you lose the weight, you'll want to buy new jeans anyway, right? Same with that no-longer-in-style formal gown you've got in case you're invited to a ball.
With linen closets, set boundaries. You need two sets of sheets per bed: one for the wash, one for the bed. Cycle out old towels, putting the rattier ones into the cleaning rags pile. Then take the really nasty cleaning rags and toss them.
Bathroom closets: Check expiration dates. Bacteria can build up, especially in liquid foundations, mascara, etc. Sunblock expires and is no longer effective after a certain period of time.
Once you've sorted through the items and purged things, look at the space that's left. How can you make it easier for you to get to the items you use most often? Digging around for things is irritating, right? Move the frequently used items to the front area of the closet, within easy reach. Less-often-used items can be moved back.
Also consider the closet order itself. You might put a lot of your shirts folded on the shelf because there is room, but maybe it makes it easier for you to have all your clothes hanging?
Finally, consider some tools. For example, if you're always digging in the back of your closet for the shoes you need, try using a shoe rack. Install racks for belts, jewelry, scarves, hats. Use shelf dividers to keep items from piling into each other.
Children's closets belong to your children. Although they may not need all that space when they are very young, as they grow older, they need a place for their own belongings. Be sure to remove your items from their space. When your child is ready to let go of that thing Aunt Susie gave to him or her that she/he NEVER uses, let your child make that decision. If you're not ready to let go of it, you must keep it in your own space.