Decluttering in Depth

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Okay, so maybe it is time to declutter than closet. This basic technique works for desktops, drawers, cupboards and any other spots where you keep a lot of stuff together. It’s not for attics or out of the way storage spots where you’re allowed to keep things that are rarely used and off-season clothes. This is for high traffic spots.

The idea is that you have to take all the stuff out of where it is now in order to properly sort it. When you try to sort things inside the closet you just end up pushing them around and peering into the dark area in the back and saying, "well, I guess all this stuff can just, uh, stay in here." It kind of fits and you know it’s there and the closet is too small to get into and really do anything constructive anyway.

So, you have to pull all the stuff out. Note: this can be a messy, time consuming project. Don’t squeeze it in an hour before you have to leave the house. Plus, give yourself enough room to sort everything you take out. Making one big pile on the floor won’t help.

  • Put things with other like things as you go. Clothes go with clothes. Sporting goods, games, appliances, camera stuff, memorabilia, etc. You don’t have to be too exact, but you want to know how many blenders are in the closet, for example.
  • Look through each category pile individually. Get rid of multiples. Be honest about whether you’re going to fix the broken things (maybe you’ve already replaced them?). Think about donating that lovely coat you never, ever wear so someone else can enjoy it. Think also about donating that insanely ugly hat you received as a gift and never, ever wear so that, however inexplicably, someone else can enjoy it.
  • Take a hard line on what goes back in the closet. Each item must be:
  1. Useful in your life now, or
  2. Loved and desired, or
  3. Both of the above

You have to make a commitment to each thing when you put it back in the closet. You use it, you need it, you like it. Now you know what’s in the closet and, most likely, you can actually get in there and find something. Yay!