“If you want to improve your life immediately, clean out a closet. Often it’s what we hold onto that holds us back.”
- Cheryl Richardson
Remember when you were a kid, and “cleaning your room” meant racing around and shoving your mess into a closet? As long as you could get the door closed, you were done!
Sadly, many of us never quite got past that habit of sticking random stuff in a closet and calling it a day.
Because in this case, out of sight really IS out of mind. And if it’s hung up and put away… that’s even better, right?
Like we talked about in the article on kitchens, we don’t often set our spaces up to support and flow with HOW we actually live and function.
We tend to just work with whatever we have. And we live with however we set it up when we first moved in … which may have been in a rush as well. All of these “choices” are really decisions or more specifically, reactions, by default.
So if you’re fumbling through a dozen hangers to get to one of the five shirts that you actually wear in the morning...
Or you can’t find where you put your favorite sandals from last summer…
Or you have a scary closet like Monica from Friends that threatens to avalanche piles of clutter on you each time you wrench open the door...
It may be time for a closet intervention.
First off, know that you are NOT alone. (Trust me, almost everyone we’ve worked with has had some version of that scary closet.)
Secondly, breathe. Reorganizing your closet does NOT have to be a big deal requiring an expensive system installation or renovation.
It can be easy:
We put together our favorite 10 quick shortcuts to get the stuff inside your closets organized, once and for all—especially the ones you use everyday—to save you the MOST time in your morning routine.
#1: EDIT YOUR WARDROBE
More isn’t better. Want proof? Be honest about how often you wear each item in your closet. Professional organizers know that about 20% of the clothes in there get worn 80% of the time.
The clothes you don’t wear won’t help provide you more choice—they just take up space that is crowding out the clothes you want to wear.
Decide what you wear most, least, and not at all. Don’t focus on what you’re letting go of—focus on what you’re getting: more space for the items you love to wear. It’s far easier to sustain a positive feeling than to slog through a negative one.
Whatever you are ready to let go of can find a new home once it’s been sold or donated.
#2: WHAT YOU CAN SEE, YOU CAN FIND
A closet is basically a small room where your clothes live. And now that you’ve edited your wardrobe, it’s time to arrange it.
Store things simply and you’ll always be able to see them, take them out when you need them, and put them away when you’re done.
Remember: every step involved in putting something away is a potential obstacle to actually PUTTING IT AWAY. Don’t use any storage solution so “clever” that using it feels burdensome or overly complicated. Almost always, simpler is better.
#3: PICK A SHOE SYSTEM
The best storage choice for your shoes is the one that’s easy to use and maximizes your storage space. There are plenty of shelves and racks out there but again, don’t pick something pretty but so difficult, flimsy or complicated to use that it just becomes easier to throw your footwear on the floor instead of putting them away.
You’ll find plenty of flavors of shoe racks, some with feet and some with wheels, hanging organizers, see-through plastic boxes, or even the original shoe boxes—if you go with the original boxes, take polaroids or other quick developing photos on the outside so you know what’s in them.
There’s no right or wrong answer here. Just pick what works best for you.
#4: ROTATE SEASONALLY
If you have an attic or a basement, it’s easy to store off-season clothes until you need them again next year. If you’re in a smaller space, like an apartment, seasonal rotation gets a bit trickier.
If you DON’T have auxiliary spaces, use boxes or bins in your existing closet—stored toward the back since you won’t need to access them until next season.
#5: ORGANIZE HANGING CLOTHES BY TYPE AND COLOR
Remember, like with like: shirts should be grouped first by sleeve length and then by color. Same goes for shorts and pants.
This makes getting dressed incredibly easy. Pick what you need based on the weather and the occasion, and you’re ready to go. No scrambling to find that black pair of slacks you need for work.
#6: SELECT THE RIGHT HANGERS
A uniform set of hangers—whether they’re wire, plastic, or wood—works wonders on the look and feel of a closet. Pick your favorite type and use it for everything you hang, except items like jackets and coats that require the extra support a “coat” hanger provides to stay nice and neat.
#7: CREATE ZONES
Your kitchen isn’t the only room that can benefit from zones. Take a good look at the space in your closet and make sure you’re using it wisely. Are you wasting tall storage on short skirts or blouses instead of long dresses or slacks?
Find low rods for shorter garments, and don’t be afraid to use vertical space. Step stools are an effective way to reach high shelves and store less-used items or accessories.
Group bulky items together, like thick woolen sweaters, and think of where you can easily get to all your belts and scarves so they aren’t mixed in with everything else.
#8: ARRANGE FOLDED ITEMS
If your folded clothes are rolled up or shoved into a tight space or even falling over in a tumbled heap, it’s time to channel your inner retail worker and straighten them up. You don’t need to fold them like origami, you can just get them all the same size so they easily stack on top of each other without sliding out of their stacks.
This not only makes it easier to find what you’re looking for—it also helps prevent wrinkles and damage to clothing over time.
Even among heavier, bulkier items, always put the biggest garment or item on the bottom to create a stable base. Then, build up from there with other bulky items on the bottom and lighter items go toward the top or front.
Once you have everything uniform and roughly the same size, arrange them by function and color, just as you did for hanging clothes. If you can stand them up on end so you can see everything in the drawer at once, even better.
#9: DITCH STAINED OR ILL-FITTING ITEMS
If you’re keeping a favorite dress that still sports a prominent red wine stain, it’s time to let it go. (Cue the Frozen soundtrack).
We all form sentimental attachments to some clothes, even if it’s just because we loved wearing them so much. But if they’re stained or torn and can’t be mended, they are not going to become less damaged just because you keep them. Now is the time to release them.
#10: CONTAIN WHAT DOESN’T HANG
Odd-shaped or otherwise hard to hang items should go in containers. Closet systems with open drawers are great for this because you won’t have to navigate lids to use things or put them away.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Your closets should save you time, not waste it.
If you want more ease and less stress each morning, take the time to audit the contents of your closet and organize what you keep so that you can easily see—and find—whatever you’re looking for.
Of course, there’s so much more to closets than clothes. Join The Unstuff Your Life System® today to take on closet storage throughout your home—and every other clutter hotspot as well!