Picture this. It’s 25,000 years ago. You pick up the sharpened stone you use for skinning animals and add it to the pouch you sling over your shoulder. It also has some animal sinew in it that you use for fire starter sticks. You roll up the hides you slept under last night and strap them to your back. You have a basket handy so you can collect berries on the way. It’s time to move to winter quarters. Your extended family moves with you.
Life was simple. Hard, but simple. There were no greeting cards, pictures, extra clothes nor shoes. No accumulated memories of a life time. No households of stuff when relatives passed away. There weren’t any books nor piles of paper, no projects – completed or not. There were no electronics nor thousands of accompanying accessories. There was no myriad of sporting paraphernalia. Nothing to declutter.
There was what you needed to survive. That’s it. Maybe you carried a small carving as a token or good luck charm. But mostly what you loved were your family and the experiences you shared. You carried virtually nothing to your grave.
Fast forward to today. According to research done in 2000, the average US household has tens of thousands of items in it.
I’m not suggesting that we go back to cave man days. Life is much more comfortable now, and more complicated. We spend a lot more time organizing our stuff – and getting overwhelmed by it.
So what do you do if you’re overwhelmed by your stuff but you really want to declutter? The number one priority is to reduce the amount of stuff you have. So how do we let go?
Having an organized closet means it’s much easier to get dressed for the day or a special event. No rummaging for that top that goes especially well with those pants. No double (or triple) buying of the same type of outfit. No taking 30 minutes to put the perfect outfit together (unless you can’t make up your mind about what to wear!)
The six keys to an organized closet are simple.
Key 1. Decide your style
Keep your style simple so you can mix and match items in your closet. Wear clothing that suits your body type, your profession, and your hobbies/ personal activities. If you are not attracting the right clients/significant other/friends and you think your wardrobe could be to blame, consider hire an image consultant (we know a great one!).
Key 2. Purge
Donate or sell clothes you don’t wear, no longer fit into, or are worn out. Rule of thumb for everyday clothes is if you haven’t worn them during the season they are appropriate for, then it’s time to let them go. At the end of a season is the perfect time to purge clothes you haven’t worn that season. If you haven’t worn them this year, you’re even less likely to wear them next year. You have a few options for selling clothes, but it’s usually only worthwhile for designer clothes that are lightly worn. Search for your nearest consignment store, or donate items to Goodwill, or other charities. (We use Clothes the Deal to donate no longer needed business clothes to those in need).
You frantically search through the overstuffed rack of clothing, looking for that long sleeved, white blouse you know you have somewhere. Maybe it’s still under the plastic from the drycleaner. Maybe it’s jammed between your long overcoat and the pants you wore it with last. Maybe it’s in the laundry. Oh, now you remember, your sister borrowed it last month and hasn’t returned it yet. Now you find a different blouse you like, but this one doesn’t go with the pants you were going to wear. Now you search for the pants you like to wear with the blouse you chose. 25 minutes later, you scrabble for your keys and rush out the door without your breakfast – again.
Is this your reality? It doesn’t have to be. Here’s an alternative.
You get up in the morning; you go to your closet and find the clothes you want to wear right away. It takes less than 5 minutes to put together your outfit. You change and have plenty of time for breakfast, leaving you calm and ready to face the day.
Sounds much better right? So how can you make this your new reality?
If your closet is over stuffed or you know you have things in there that you haven’t worn for a while and are not likely to wear again, it’s time for a purge. Take some time and go through your clothes one by one. You need to identify what to keep and what to donate or sell. Here are three tips for helping you purge your closet of clothes you no longer wear or like.
Tip #1) Ask questions.
Ask yourself the following questions to decide what to keep:
1) Have I worn this in the last year?
2) Do I look good in this?
3) Does it fit me well?
4) Do I love wearing this?
If you work better by finding what to pass on to someone else, ask yourself these questions:
1) Was it more than a year ago that I wore this?
2) Could someone else make better use of this than me?
3) Is this the wrong size for me now?
4) Is this tired/worn/outdated?
Tip #2) Use the reverse hanger trick.
If you are having trouble being honest about what you wear and what you don’t, use the reverse hanger trick. Turn all your hangers so that they are in backwards. Give yourself a time limit; 3 months, 6 months – your choice. When you wear something, put it back the right way round. Anything still hanging in reverse after your time limit, you haven’t worn.
Tip #3) Be kind to yourself.
Do give yourself some slack on the sizing if you have just had children or have some temporary medical condition that has caused a change in size. But if it was five years since your last child and you still don’t fit those favorite old pants, it’s time they went.
Now you have clothes you love in your closet. Now it’s time to organize them.