The Ultimate Guide to A Masterfully Organized Closet
…and How To Keep It That Way Forever!
Let me guess, every time you open your closet door your shoulders tense up a bit, you sigh a little too heavily and, before diving in to find the shirt you need, you think, “If only I could have one of those neat and tidy, clutter-free closets filled with only the items I love hanging neatly in a color-coordinated row.”
But somehow, you can never manage to find the time or energy to make this actually happen. We’re not going to let you procrastinate or struggle anymore.
Today, you’ll learn a simple, easy-to-implement way to make all of your closet dreams come true. Plus, we’ll also fill you in on the psychology of why an organized closet is so important to living a stress-free life on the daily. Ready? Let’s go!
Before you even think about touching that closet door, give yourself a fighting chance. Tackle this project on a day when you won’t be interrupted by the kids, your spouse, or work. (Or better yet, make it a fun family activity!). You will need about 4 hours in the clear for a standard sized closet, longer for storage units or larger closets. Gather a few basic supplies you will need and bring them with you. We recommend having these on hand: large trash bags, paper towels, an all purpose cleaner, a killer playlist, or your favorite podcasts ready to rock. Have you blocked out time on a specific day? Got your supplies? If you said yes, keep reading!
First, start by taking everything out of your closet. I mean EVERYTHING. Knickknacks stuffed into photos boxes, those fabulous shoes you’ll wear “someday”, that stack of papers you keep ignoring – all of it! As you pull things out of the closet, place items into one of three piles: keep, donate, and trash.
As you reach towards the trash pile, remember, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Donate as much as you’re comfortable with, especially since someone in need will be deeply appreciative of your generosity and find new value in your items. As you toss things into your keep pile, go ahead and start little sub-piles for broad categories, like keep clothes, keep shoes, keep paperwork, etc.
Try to do this fairly quickly, assessing each item for only a few seconds and going with your gut. If you come across items you need to consider more closely, toss them in the keep pile for now – we will remind you to reassess later, don’t worry! It’s important to keep your momentum here until that closet is empty, so turn up the volume on that playlist and have at it.
Once everything is out of your closet (notice we keep saying everything!), and sorted into your keep, donate, and trash piles, take one more good look through your keep pile. Remember, this process is to help you make room for items you need, use, and love. Everything else can be donated and will find a home with someone who will love it just as much as you once did.
Not using that “cultural” sunhat you bought in Cozumel all those years ago? Donate it to someone who will use it on their next beach trip. Haven’t worn those 11 extra T-shirts in the corner of your closet? Someone else might need to add those essentials to their wardrobe. It is crucial in reorganizing to put active thought into why you’re choosing to keep each of your belongings, so take the time to do that now.
Go ahead and take a minute here to take out the trash, and bag up your donate items. You will be left with a bunch of keep piles containing only items you are thrilled to put back into your closet. Now it’s time to give those items new, functional homes.
Before you start putting things back, wipe down your closet’s surfaces. You will be surprised how dusty it can get in there! Examine your space and think about what kind of storage containers will fit where. Remember to think “up”, maximizing your space by using all the height available to you. For example, if you have a tall, narrow closet opt for stacking containers, rather than wide, clunky boxes. If you have super deep built-in shelving, try to find open top bins that fit right into the shelf space so you can easily see what’s at the very back by pulling out the whole bin.
Once you have your storage solutions in place, then you can begin to think about what goes where and take the time to neatly and thoughtfully reinstall your belongings. Be mindful to place items you need regularly in a frustration-free spot for easy access. When items are easily accessible and visible, you are more likely to place items back in their “homes” after using them. Time out: feeling overwhelmed by the wide world of storage solutions, bins, boxes, and specialty hangers? Invite a friend over to talk it out, or enlist a pro from GYST to make sure you get this part right.
Once you’ve carefully chosen your storage solutions, and have neatly reinstalled your items, take a step back and give yourself a round of applause! Your closet dreams are now a reality! Rejoice! But wait… are you secretly panicking and thinking “How will I ever keep it this way?”
It’s a great question.
And once you learn the psychology why an organized closet space is important in the grand scheme of things, you’ll have a better shot at keeping your commitments of maintaining your closet’s cleanliness.
Now, organized spaces aren’t just about aesthetics. Recent studies have shown that clean and open spaces can help reduce stress and depression, curb unhealthy eating habits, and even improve your relationships. Whenever you start off the day with a frustrating dig through your closet for those shoes you must have for your morning meeting, you greatly increase your overall stress level, which can really affect how the rest of your day goes, and your mood in general. In fact, a study in Personal and Social Psychology Bulletin reported that women who described their homes as “cluttered” or “unfinished” were associated with depressed moods throughout the day, and higher levels of the stress hormone called cortisol.
Do you find yourself mindlessly eating unhealthy snacks a little too often? Believe it or not, clutter could be the culprit. Research in the journal Psychology Sciencesays that people who work in cluttered environments are less likely to choose healthy snacks than those who work in uncluttered, distraction free environments.
“Clutter is stressful for the brain, so you’re more likely to resort to coping mechanisms such as choosing comfort foods or overeating than if you spend time in neater surroundings,” Dr. Selhub says.
See how your newly tidy closet might be a lynchpin in your new diet plan?
There’s more “spill-over” benefits now that you’ve cleaned your closet. Hint: less arguments with your spouse?
For couples, having a disorganized space can lead to arguments, and for individuals, having an unorganized home can lead to shame and embarrassment about entertaining and having people over. Ward off these feelings by creating organizational systems and choosing a convenient 10 minutes daily to tidy up, and 1-2 hours weekly to deep clean your space. Your weekly organizing session is the perfect time to compile any items that could be donated to charitable organizations.
Congrats! Now you’ve got yourself a beautifully organized closet, you’ve donated items to people who will love them, and you’ve been equipped with the reasons why and how to remain committed to your newfound organizational systems.
Take a second to pat yourself on the back! The hidden bonus is you now have a framework for attacking any cluttered space in your home. For your next organization project, apply the same principles to your home office or kids’ rooms, creating lasting systems that work for you and your family. Don’t have the time or energy to rinse and repeat this process in other areas of your home? The amazing folks over at NYC’s most trusted personal assistant service, GYST, can lend a hand anytime.
Unsure how to donate the items you’ve chosen?
PickupPlease.org is a FREE donation pickup service that provides a solution to “pay-it-forward”. Most unused items throughout your home (like clothes, shoes, purses, and toys) can help make a difference in the lives of America’s Veterans and their families. Here are a few highlights about this service:
Here are a few highlights:
Easy online scheduling right from your computer or mobile device
FAST pickup service (within as little as 24hrs for most locations)
Tax deduction document delivered to your email
Wide range of acceptable donations include clothing, shoes, purses, household items, and toys