5 steps to Clean out Your Closet

Does your closet stress you out each morning? Are you not able to find what you are looking for? Do you have several “orphans” in your closet? You know that skirt or blouse you love yet you have never found anything to go with it. Do your clothes no longer fit you or your style? Do you have clothes that you love however you never wear them because they are itchy or uncomfortable? Is your closet stocked more like a department store in small, medium and large for the ups and downs of your life?

If you answered yes to any of these questions it is time to do a closet overhaul. This is something you want to get on calendar and chunk for a 2 to 4 hour block of time. It is easier and more fun to do this with someone else such as a friend or a professional organizer who will be more objective and nonjudgmental about what to keep or not keep. If you are up to give it a go on your own then utilize these 5 steps to clean out your closet and step into a more enjoyable and calming closet experience.

  1. Take everything out of your closet. You heard me… Everything! This is for several reasons. Mainly because you really don’t know what is all in there until you see it all outside of your closet. Believe me, you will find things in there you either forgot about or have no idea how it got in there. I can’t tell you how many of my clients have said “I’ve been looking for that” when we are emptying their closet. This is also a good opportunity to do some housekeeping in your closet and vacuum and dust areas that haven’t seen the light of day since you moved in. Then you can really see your space and have better ideas of how you want to rebuild it. What items do you want in what areas from business to casual? You’ll want to empty all closets that have your closets in them. Now I’m not a fan of having clothes in different closets whenever possible as I find people only wear the closet they can see. So if you have to use other closets make sure all of your everyday clothes are in your main closet and you can further separate your clothes into other closets that are seasonal or special occasion wear.
  2. Start by either having your closet helper pick up each piece of clothing or you pick it up and look at it in the mirror to decide what stays or goes. There is something about seeing the clothing away from you that makes it easier for you to know if you are keeping it or not. This first round is to get rid of the things you know are not comfortable or don’t fit you or are out of style. Don’t spend a lot of time on the whys to keep it or not. You know what you are wearing or not and what you feel your best in. Go with your gut on those. This part should be quick and easy. We can set the “maybes” aside for round two. Have trash bags on hand. When possible I like to use the heavy black trash bags for the donations and the white kitchen bags for trash so you don’t mix them up when you take them out of your bedroom. I also use a reusable tote bag for any alterations or dry cleaning. Use your laundry basket for anything that needs to go into the wash.
  3. You are doing great! As you are clearing the clutter of what you don’t want you are making room for what you do want and bringing more calm into your space. Celebrate that! Next choose what hangers you like and have all of them the same for your closet. The uniform look will make you feel better and you’ll have a much better put together closet. Select what areas of your closet each piece of clothing that you are keeping will go. Group like things together such a business, casual, workout and special occasion. Then add them to your closet from lightest in color to darkest and from no sleeve to short sleeve to long sleeve.
  4. Go through the stay or go process for your sweaters, shoes, socks, belts and underwear. Put these items back in your closet or drawers depending on the size of your closet or availability of drawers. Again whenever possible given the room have as much visible in your closet as possible. You will wear it more.
  5. Lastly, go through your maybe stack and get very clear on what you choose to keep. Ask the key questions at this beginning of this blog to help determine what to keep or not. Most likely if you hesitated to keep the item the first time it doesn’t belong in your closet however if you are still unsure ask more questions. Are you keeping it because it doesn’t fit? If so are you actively losing or gaining weight? If you are then keep these clothes in a separate bin not hanging in your closet and mark them as inspiration clothes or happy clothes. If you don’t see yourself in those clothes again because you are redefining who you are then let them go as you will want new clothes that reflect who you are today. Are you keeping them because you spend a lot of money on them? If so think of clothes like a vacation. You spent a lot of money on the vacation and had a good time and have no expectation for further satisfaction from the experience. You had your fun in the clothes. It’s time to let someone else enjoy them when you know you’ll never wear it again. If you are keeping a handful of clothes for sentimental reasons put them in a keepsake box if needed for the memory.

It is ideal when everything in your closet is something you absolutely love, you love it on your body and it makes you feel good. Let this be your daily experience in your closet and it will reflect in so many other positive ways in your life. Trust me!

Yours from Clutter to Calm,

Diane

 

Mind Dump: How to group your daily activities into 4 categories to have more efficiency and flow to your day

Have you ever had one of those days where you make a phone call then answer an email then run to the grocery store come back home do some more email then meet a client for lunch? Whew! It may feel like you are getting a lot done however there is a mental and physical fatigue that can happen by diverting our energy into too many directions. Every time we start and stop an activity to do something else our brain has to adjust to the new or different skill set you have to use to get the new task done. You can experience delays or get out of flow when you are doing too many activities at once. By categorizing like activities together you will experience more efficiency and a greater smoothness to your daily tasks.

I recommend as soon as you are winding down your day to take a moment and do a “Mind Dump”. This is “dumping” everything you can think of from your brain that you have to do for the rest of today and tomorrow on a piece of paper. Our brain is a wonderful thing and it likes to interject the same information through our mind of the things we have to do so we won’t forget it. By getting these things on paper our brain can relax, know that you heard its promptings and see that you are doing something about it. Once you have everything on your mind on paper then start grouping like activities together into 4 categories.

  • Start by circling “in person” meeting or appointments.
  • Put a check mark next to any errands you need to run
  • Put a star next to any phone calls you need to make and
  • Underline any emails or computer work you need to do

Then access the overall amount of things to do in each of the categories. Some days will have more meetings and phone calls. Other days will be all about the errands. By knowing the type of activities you will be doing you will better be able to set the amount of time you need to devote to each of these activities. You will then be able to better structure your day.

Start with the in person meetings. Add them to your calendar if they are not in there yet. Chunk enough of your time to get there. When possible block your time to do all of the outside meetings or appointments at once such as a chunk of time like 10am-2pm. Since you are already out group your errands either before or after these meetings. This saves on the travel time to and from your house.

When doing your errands start with the errand furthest away from your home and work your way back to your house. This allows to you be closer to head home in case you are doing errands that could bump into traffic times. It would also make it easier if you cannot complete all of your errands to fit in the ones closer to home at a different time.

Then chunk your calls in 15 minute to 60 minute blocks of time depending on the number of calls you need to make, If you have a 9-10am block for calls and a 2-3pm block for calls you can leave messages for anyone you didn’t get ahold of to call you back during your afternoon block. You can have an evening block as well if you works better for you or your clients.

You can block out your computer time as well. Email in 15 minute blocks for quick responses and longer blocks for more detailed work. See my Time Blog for more details.

You can also have a separate piece of paper or note on your phone to prioritize your day based on the information from the mind dump. I have a note on my phone that says ACTION. Then I have 3 subtitles: TODAY, NEXT and PROJECTS. Under Today I have the 3 most important things I need to get done for the next day and put on my calendar when those will happen. It’s best if possible to get them done in the morning so they for sure get done in case anything else comes up during the day. Plus it’s nice to have a sense of accomplishment early on in the day knowing that everything else you get done is icing on the cake. Under Next I put the next 10-20 things I want to accomplish within the next week. Under Projects I put anything that won’t happen for a month or longer or needs a half or full day to accomplish such as cleaning out the garage or sorting through keepsakes. I recommend having a Projects block on your calendar at least quarterly. Monthly would be better to catch up on those long terms projects.

Aside from the recommended nightly “Mind Dumps” you can utilize this tool anytime during the day when you feel like you have too much on your plate and in your head. This way nothing gets forgotten because once dumped you can get it on calendar and into a time slot. A clear mind is a happy mind!

Yours from Clutter to Calm,

Diane

 

Your Notes App — How to Better Capture Your Lists

How do we capture those random thoughts of someone recommending a book a movie giving you a phone number and all of those little bits of information that come to us? Are you still using a million Post-it notes or creating a long to do list?

I like to share with my clients to better utilize their notes on their phone with broad categories so they can retrieve information. Things like Books, Grocery, Movies, Inspiration, Errands or Gifts. These are things that are not ready for action that I need to put in my calendar. They are simply a place where I can relieve my mind of information that is been given to me that I want to future act on.

Here are some of my favorite Notes:

  • BOOKS. These are the books I hear about from a friend, books I’ve been wanting to read or something I hear in social media as a must read. Sometimes these are the books I save to read for a vacation or a lazy weekend or a night time before bed read. I will sometimes note next to the book title the author or who recommended it to me. Sometimes I’ll put a word or two about why I want to read it such as fun, business or research. Either way I have the title for when I am ordering, downloading or perusing a bookstore for a certain book. If I have time I will take book titles and enter them directly into the search feature of my ebooks and click on the Sample button. This is a great feature as it earmarks the next books I want to read and gives me the first few chapters for free. I then buy the book when I have read up to the free section. If I haven’t made reading time a priority this week or the content hasn’t engaged me to read up to the end of the free section then I don’t purchase it.
  • GROCERY. Nothing is more frustrating than getting to the grocery store and leaving your list at home or not having a list with you at all. By having this list on your phone it is quick and easy to locate what you need and stay on your food budget by just picking up the things from your list. If you like you can have further subcategories under Grocery such as Produce, Dairy, Protein, Kids, Toiletries, Supplements, Coupons you have, etc.
  • MOVIES. These are the movies I hear about from a friend, movies I’ve been wanting to see or something I hear in social media as a must see. I sometimes subcategorize these into At theatre now, On video/Online, Romance, Comedy, or For kids. Like books I sometimes add a blurb about what it is about so when I choose a movie I know what to expect.
  • INSPIRATION. This may be a quote that inspired me or an idea that I an inspired to write about. That way I can quickly capture my creative ideas so I am better prepared when I sit down to write or reflect on content. This is also a great place to capture a gist of an article you may want to use latter without having to save the article. You could put down the author, topic or date in case you want to pull it up again for a future date.
  • ERRANDS. This is where I will capture all of the errands I need to do. I may get these from the top of my head or from content from a Mind Dump. See my Blog on Mind Dump to better utilize this tool. I will sometimes subcategorize my errands into different stores I need to go to and what I need from each store. This keeps you on task when you shop and makes sure you don’t forget “that one thing”. I then number the stops in order of priority or furthest to closet to my home. I delete the places and things I have already completed and save the note for future errands. I sometimes use the Errand note like the Grocery note and put Subcategories of places I go frequently and add things to that list from the same store. When I have 3-5 things I need from that store and know it is close to where I am going that day I’ll stop in and grab my items.
  • GIFTS. This is where I capture my Birthday lists, Christmas list, and Anniversary list. I also list the people I like to buy for under these categories. That way when I have a gift idea or see something I think someone will like I can add it to my list. Better yet when these people mention things they like such as a restaurant, a color, a place or a thing I have their preferences so I don’t feel rushed to think of what to get when it’s time to buy a gift.

The options are endless when it comes to want you like to keep lists of. The beauty of this system is your phone is always with you and your list is at your fingertips. Your can quickly be found by a search of the name of your list so make sure you name your list in a simple way you will remember it. No more searching for a bunch of little Post It’s or pieces of paper or notes you wrote on a napkin!

Yours from Clutter to Calm,

Diane