Today we are focusing on those barriers you face when cleaning out your closet. We know the simple organizing steps:
- Sort clothes into 4 piles- keep, store (out of season, etc), donate, trash
- Keep only your most used/most loved items and get rid of the rest
If it is as simple as those steps, why do we fight with our stuffed closets day after day instead of doing a quick closet clean out and purging the items we never wear? We are facing those barriers head on, including common excuses that bog us down when we try to clear the clutter.
Barriers to organizing your closet
We have heard of the 80/20 rule, most people wear only 20% of their clothing 80% of time. The rest of our clothes are only cluttering up our closet.
I am reminded that you can’t organize a space until you have cleared out the clutter enough to know what needs to be organized.
Of course we would all like an organized closet but so often it is hard to find the time. Here are a few of our strategies for making time, whether you decide to knock it out in one day or spread it out.
For a full day session:
- Set aside a day in your calendar (and stick to it)
- Ask for help from a friend
- Plan a reward after a job well done (dinner after the donation drop off?)
- If it feels more helpful, schedule a donation pick up for the end of the day
Or a slower approach:
- Focus on one drawer or one type of clothing (all socks, all sweaters) at a time
- Set up a permanent donation box in your closet and declutter a bit each day
- (My personal favorite) Let your laundry pile up and you’ll be left with your 80% of clothes you hardly ever wear. This is also a great starting point for older children who are planning their own outfits.
The #1 question to repeat
As you are cleaning out your closet, there are multiple decisions that can wear you out mentally. Having pre-decided answers to a few key questions can help spare you the mental fatigue and keep you pushing through until the end of the project. You don’t want to leave a half organized closet with piles sprawled all over your room. Keep asking yourself:
Do I wear this?
You may like the item, but do you actually wear it? If you don’t wear it, why are you hanging on to it? Don’t start making excuses, we hear you!
The indisputable toss list
worn out items
stained or damaged clothes
Do you need to spend extra time mending or spot-treating? Is it even worth it? Has it been waiting around for a year and you still haven’t conquered that to-do? You can conquer that to-do list clutter (check out last week’s episode) AND you can conquer closet clutter. It’s important to be realistic with yourself if you aren’t going to mend, spot-treat, or tailor that piece of clothing anytime soon. If you do decide that it is worth it, set a date to take care of it, write that errand or to-do on your calendar.
uncomfortable or ill-fitting clothes
Does it flatter you? Do you get compliments when you are wearing it? What Not to Wear, you taught us so much.
Nobody wants to be greeted with guilt when they open their closet! It is time to let those items go. If you feel guilty that you only wore it once (or not at all) or you spent too much money on it, it is time to forgive yourself. Donate it so it can be used by someone else before the style becomes obsolete.
clothes that don’t fit
Bethany cheated a little on this point and saved a few pieces in a space bag tucked away in a hard to reach cabinet. If you do decide to keep clothes that don’t fit, since we all know weight fluctuates, follow these two guidelines:
set a predetermined space for a predetermined amount of time
Under your bed is also a good place for long term storage. I used this hidden, out of the way spot for maternity clothes, and then again for clothes that didn’t fit yet postpartum. And just for fun, because we love polls, do you store things under bed?
The trickier items
I might need this for….a special event, paint clothes, lounging around the house…the list could go on. Decide how many are reasonable to keep and for how long.
Multiples of the same item
Pick the best (or the two or three best if you need more than one). Again it comes down to the questions- how many do you really wear? and how many do you really need? I fell victim to this without even realizing it with white tank tops.
Baby clothes, items from a special time or clothes passed down from a loved one can clutter up our closets. I would encourage you to really question whether you need to keep it! Photos can be a better reminder of memories than clothes.
If you DO decide you would like a to keep a few pieces, get a reasonably sized container and only keep what will fit in that space.
Bethany mentioned creative things you can do with clothing keepsakes, like making a quilt, but be wary that you aren’t adding more clutter or unreasonable to-dos. I will admit, during the podcast, I wasn’t picturing the modern, jaw-dropping quilts I found on Pinterest like this one and this one. And, I do still use my pillows I made out of two old skirts.
Since I do love my pillows, here a six creative ways (including my pillow) to re-purpose sentimental items.
Following a Decision Tree
To keep you focused during the organizing process, we love a decision tree or flow chart. I made one for processing kid’s paper in episode 5. But for clothing, we turn to the organizing master, Peter Walsh! If you are not familiar, here is a clip from his show Clean Sweep.
Here is a similar flow chart to follow from Vogue’s website.
We would also love to hear your tips! You can leave your comments below, share on social media #atobpodcast, or send us an email Hello @ AtoBpodcast.com. We even have a voicemail line (858) 480-7722!
We are counting down to our 1oth episode when we will share the results of our love it or lose it debates from our segment, Why on Earth do You Still Have That? It is not too late to vote in the polls!
Also, if you have a launch lingo, a favorite saying which motivates you, please share! You can leave a voicemail, 858-487-SPACE or send us an email at Hello@AtoBPodcast.com.
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We hope you are ready to tackle your closet, even if it is just a small drawer at a time! If you need a little more inspiration for your own closet clean out? Here’s are some other purging excuses I’ve covered in the past.