Has this happened to you? You step up to your closet. You slowly pull open the door, cringing, as you pray an avalanche of odds and ends doesn't come crashing over your head. Then, just as you feared, a tidal wave of gift wrapping supplies, spare toilet paper, board games, and a variety of mystery items knocks you off of your feet.
Okay, so maybe that's a little dramatic -- or maybe not. There have been quite a few closets that could make you wonder, “If I dig deep enough I could end up in Narnia.” Besides the physical hazard, this can cause a definite mental and emotional strain on a person.
The state of your home directly relates to the state of your well-being. It also hinders your ability to complete even the smallest of tasks. This is because things take longer to find, or they get lost, and too much clutter is just overwhelming.
Many people think if they just shove everything in a closet, it will solve the problem because they won’t see the mess. The truth is, the famous adage “out of sight, out of mind,” doesn’t apply here. Even unseen clutter causes stress because you still know it’s there.
Plus, if you're trying to sell your home, potential buyers will open everything! If your closets are bulging, buyers will automatically assume your house doesn't have enough space.
If you’re reading this, and it's hitting close to home, then take a deep breath. It's going to get better. You just need to take things one step at a time. If you're prepping your house for sale, getting organized will not only help your house show better, but it will make your packing and moving process easier, too. It's a win-win situation!
If you need some extra help we are delighted to recommend a fantastic, family-run, local business called Fieldstone Lane. These three sisters are personable, judgment-free and are committed to providing you with a happy, organized space! They have nothing but rave reviews with the testimonials and pictures to prove it. We highly encourage you to learn all about them in a previous posting here!
Start with these quick tips to get a jumpstart on those stuffed closets and overfilled drawers, and bring a little organization (and peace) into your life:
Take It All Out- Trying to organize around clutter is counterproductive. You end up keeping things you don’t need simply because you can’t see everything. In the long run, you make things harder on yourself, and you don't even fully accomplish the task at hand.
Believe it or not, it ultimately saves time when you take everything out of the space that you want to organize. Remove every article of clothing, random piece of jewelry, books, containers, hangers -- everything! This is the best way to see everything that you actually have, start with a blank slate, and give the space a thorough cleaning. It's also a great opportunity to make any necessary repairs to damaged areas that may have been hidden by the clutter.
Sort and Sort Again -- This step is undoubtedly the one that will take the longest, and it is also often the most difficult, but it's also the step that can affect the biggest change. Start by setting up three stations; a keep, a sell/donate, and trash. Make sure before you begin that you've gathered enough boxes and bags for this step. Another item that comes in handy during this process is an extra box that is aptly known as, "The Elsewhere Box."
As you start to go through your items, look at each one and place it in the appropriate pile. During your first sorting session it's best to just go through quickly and not to give too much thought to items if you can't make a quick decision. If in doubt, put it in the keep pile for now so the process doesn't stall.
The elsewhere box is for those items you come across that you know you are keeping but belong "elsewhere" in the house. Instead of stopping every time you find one of these items to put it away, just toss it in the elsewhere box. Once your project is completed, you can take a few minutes to go return things to their proper homes.
After you've sorted all of your items into three piles, go ahead and throw out the trash and remove the sell/donate pile to another location. Now here's where you'll have to make some more difficult decisions; with your keep pile, go through the entire sorting process again. You'll be surprised how many things that you thought you wanted end up in your trash and sell/donate piles. After the second round of sorting, you'll know exactly what you want to keep and therefore what needs to be stored in the closet.
As a bonus, have a separate area where you put any potential items that can be used as storage containers. For example, bins, baskets, and plastic containers can all be used as ways to organize items. This pile can be the first place you look for any needed storage pieces before you buy anything new.
Make a Plan -- Now that you know exactly what you want to keep, you can create an effective plan for your space. Envision how you want to organize your items in the space, take any necessary measurements, and give the space a thorough cleaning while it is empty.
When thinking about where your items will go, consider how the items are used and how often you use them. Think of your items in terms of letters -- A through E. The "A" items are the ones that you use every day, while the "E" items are those things that you have to keep but you rarely use, for example, important papers. This information will help you decide where to keep your items; the items that you use every day should be easily accessible, and "D" and "E" items can go higher up. Remember to consider all of the available space, especially vertical space.
If you need any materials to complete your plans, such as special tools or storage bins, make a list and take necessary measurements so that you get the right size items, then start your shopping trip. This way you make sure that you only buy things that you absolutely need.
People that run out and buy a bunch of beautiful storage containers before they even know what they're keeping, often end up buying things they don't need and wasting a lot of time and money.
Cross the Finish Line -- Ironically enough, the final step of the process usually takes the least amount of time, and yet it is the most rewarding. This is where you finally get to see the results of all of your hard work. Make any necessary adjustments to your space, put your items into the space based on your plan, and stop and snap a few satisfying after pictures. Now all that's left is to step back and admire your success, and breathe a little easier -- oh, and don't forget to put away the contents of your elsewhere box.
Getting rid of clutter is a freeing experience that has many benefits, and if you are selling your house, decluttering is a no-brainer. When you show your house to buyers, keep closets, cabinets, and drawers half full. This gives the impression that your house has more than enough adequate space in which buyers can store their items. Whether you're prepping your house for sale or making it a better home for you and your family, organizing is the perfect first step.
The benefits of an organized home extend far beyond the house itself.