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4 Closet Cleaning Philosophies

  1. Less is More

Some people think that the more stuff we have, the better our quality of life. But if you really think about the time, energy and money it takes to accumulate and maintain all the unused items in your closet, you will easily see that having too much actually takes away from your quality of life. A sense of peace and clarity comes with simplifying.

If you identify with this idea, you are likely a minimalist and would do better with a “living better with less” philosophy. Even if you are in a current pattern of over-consumption — filling an already over-full closet with more and more stuff — you can still break free and begin implementing a simple system of living with less. It’s not just about being organized; it’s a new way of seeing your relationship to things.

Move from consuming unconsciously to consciously; only bring things into your home that are necessary or are a very occasional splurge. And give yourself a simple plan for paring down. Here are some strategies. Pick one and give it a try:

  • Begin your closet clean out with a goal: find 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home – be it to its original owner or to its proper storage place somewhere else in your home. You want your closet to function as a closet and not as some sort of storage limbo.
  • For every item that comes into your home, something else should go out. Bought a new dress? Great, then make sure you’re getting rid of an item before putting your new dress away. It doesn’t necessarily have to be another dress that goes. It can be any item. Sticking to this policy is a great way to maintain a minimal closet.
  • Or simply set your mind to this “baby step” task: choose to get rid of one item every day for a month.
  1. The Joy Principal

The Joy Principal says being organized doesn’t have to be about denying yourself, or getting rid of things that you love.

This newest philosophy in organizing comes from Marie Kondo and it’s all about JOY. Typical methods for organizing will get you to de-clutter your space by deciding if you’ve used a certain item recently or whether you will use it soon. This leaves you scratching your head and stressing over each item. The Kondo method asks you to answer just one simple question about any given item: Does it bring you joy? If you answer yes, you keep the item. If you hesitate or say no, you donate it or throw it out. It’s that simple.

Unlike de-cluttering in the past where you would spend a lot of time stressing over the money spent on an unworn item or justifying how something might be worn later, fit you better later, the question of whether or not something brings you joy is an emotional and intuitive one and can be answered almost instantly.

To begin, take all of your clothes and put them in one big pile. Then pick up an item and ask yourself one simple question: Does this bring me joy? If you instantly jump to yes! The item is a keeper. If you hesitate, there might be something else at play. Watch out for shopper’s guilt reminding you how much you paid for something or telling you that you should be wearing it more often. These questions are irrelevant when you are only asking about joy.

Once you’ve master this skill in the closet, extend the practice to your other life-choices.

  1. Everything In Its Place

Putting your things away is much harder when you don’t know where to put them. You have to reinvent the wheel with every single cleaning. It’s even harder to find items again when they don’t have a consistent home; they really could be anywhere!

Start your organization from the ground up; begin by creating or designating spots for everything. Pick up an item and ask yourself: where would I look for this item if I needed it. That place is its new designated home. When the answer is I don’t know, create one!

Instead of boots jumbled at the bottom of your closet, put them on a hanging boot rack. A series of coat hooks on the back of your closet door is where all your scarves hang. A ceramic catch-all inside your top drawer will house your ring collection.

With the Everything In Its Place philosophy, designating a specific spot for each of your things will help you get and stay organized. What a joy it will be to have your belongings right where you can find them.

  1. Habit is King

Lasting change often requires new behaviors. Determine the behaviors that get in the way of your goals and replace them with helpful ones. Are you always struggling to find your key? Install a hook or catch-all basket right inside the door. Link the behavior on coming through the door with the behavior of depositing your keys. By linking behaviors we create new habits.

Schedule time to stay organized. Allot just ten or fifteen minutes every day to organizing. Sort the mail right away, hang your jacket as it comes off. Transforming these small daily efforts into habits will keep clutter at bay and prevent those overwhelming overhauls that take up half your weekend.