Do you ever feel like the clutter in your house is taking over your life? Or, maybe you have been piling everything up in the attic or in the basement and you know you need to go through everything, but the thought overwhelms you, so you go take a nap instead? Totally been there.
There are all types of clutter – maybe for you it’s books and magazines, kids’ toys, collectibles you don’t know what to do with like that stash of beanie babies you’ve collected, or clothes that don’t fit you anymore or are simply worn out. Or, maybe it goes deeper to more of a tendency to hoard items. The “I’m going to hang on to this because you never know when someone might need it” is the hoarder motto. I’m being somewhat flippant here but if you are truly struggling with hoarding, it may be time for you to seek professional help, which you can find here. For everyone else, I believe clearing out the clutter starts with determining what you really love and use regularly and what needs to be given away or thrown in the garbage. The most important thing to remember is decluttering and getting organized is not going to get done in one day. You have to pace yourself and set realistic expectations, so you don’t get overwhelmed and then give up. Let’s start in your closet because that’s an easy one.
First, if you are hanging on to clothes that don’t fit you it’s time to donate them to someone who can use them. And you have to be real with yourself. If you’ve got a pair of jeans in your closet you’ve had since high school that you are planning to squeeze into again one day, they’ve gotta go! There’s no reason to have a constant reminder of woulda, coulda, shoulda in your closet. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. For clothes that are stained or have holes – pitch them or keep a couple for when you’re mowing. Do not, I repeat do NOT donate clothes with stains. People who are shopping for used items don’t want your raggy nasty stained or otherwise soiled clothes. When I’m thinning out my closet the first thing I do is go through each piece and really think about if I like how I look, if I like how it feels like does it pinch anywhere, is it itchy, or is it stretched out or too faded? If it doesn’t fit the criteria, into the donate pile it goes. The same goes for t-shirts. It’s amazing how many t-shirts one person can accumulate, they are like weeds. You get rid of one and another one pops up in its place. If you don’t like the fabric or it is the most appalling color for you, get rid of it. If you’re hanging on to t-shirts for sentimental reasons, hand them over to someone who can turn them into a t-shirt quilt for you. And hoodies are no different. Seriously, unless you live in a cold-weather climate, you probably need to pare down your collection. I know hoodies are comfy and cozy on cold fall and winter days, but are you truly wearing all your hoodies? I’m guessing not. Pick out your favorites to keep and donate the rest to someone who really needs them. When it comes to actually organizing your closet, I like to separate everything out by color. I know that sounds super OCD but hear me out. When your clothes are organized by color, it’s much easier to find what you’re looking for – especially on busy mornings when you’ve got to get to work. Instead of digging through your closet, you’ll go right to the color section for the piece, and there it will be. My closet is organized white, black, brown then ROY G BIV – yes, the colors of the rainbow. Friends, you’re just dipping your toes into the water of my processes.
Let’s talk socks and undies. If there are holes in either, throw them away. And if you have underwear in your drawer that you’ve had since high school…unless you just graduated in May – GROSS! Throw them away right now. As for PJs, the same rule applies. If you have PJs with holes and stains, it’s time to throw them out. For a lesson on how to fold clothes and organize your drawers, I recommend checking out Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix. It’s really helped me get my dresser drawers under control. Finally, if you have shoes that have barely any soles left, holes in the toes, or straps that are broken, into the garbage they go. One more note about clothes, if you have business attire that you’re planning to get rid of, before you take it to Goodwill, get in contact with a local school. Oftentimes, students who are in DECA, FBLA, or FCCLA require business attire when they compete against other schools and may benefit from your clothes.
Let’s move to the bathroom. For some reason, the bathroom cabinets are like a black hole for toiletries. Here you want to start with expiration dates. If anything is expired, buh bye. Soaps and shampoos that you hate the smell of? Trash. Old hairsprays or other hair products, see ya. Cleaning supplies that don’t work or that gag you when you use them? Get rid of them or give them to a friend who will use them. And that leads to makeup. Ladies, I know it’s very easy for your makeup to get out of control. Trust me, I recently counted the number of MAC eye shadows I have and there were 28! 28! Mind you, I didn’t purchase all of them because of the recycling program they have, but honestly. I don’t even use MAC shadows anymore so if you want them, let me know. If you have a stash as I do, the best thing you can do it to sanitize them and give them to your friends. Same for palettes. You can sanitize them and give them to away. As for storage, the majority of my makeup is in a travel type container that I found on Amazon, which I will link in the show notes. The same goes for fingernail polishes. I have a sickness…I love polish. I recently went through my collection and threw out the ones that were old and globby or if it was a color I hated, I gave it away. As for the ones I kept, I have an acrylic carrying case that houses all my mani/pedi paraphernalia. And it lives in a hall closet where it doesn’t take up precious bathroom space. For your drawers and cabinets – you don’t have to go out and buy baskets or other storage unless you just want to. More than likely, you have something in your house that you can repurpose like cereal boxes or small totes or boxes. You can buy glue-on magnets for the inside of drawers for things like bobby pins. And you can use snack-size Ziplock baggies for hair ties. The key here is to combine like items together so they are easier to find. If under sink storage is limited for you, you can always purchase a small glass or wooden shelves to utilize wall space for storage. Moving on.
The kitchen is another area that can very easily get out of control. Unless you have a monster kitchen with tons of storage, your cabinets are probably stuffed to the gills. The average kitchen size in America is between 150 and 175 square feet and unless the builder of your home was super smart about kitchen storage, there are probably areas that are useless to you. My advice here is to start with your cup collection. For some reason, we seem to have a hodgepodge collection of cups and glasses. I don’t know if it’s because we get them as gifts or giveaways or if they are leftovers from college. Regardless, it’s probably time to pare them down. For me, I love coffee mugs. I literally have to stop myself from buying new ones. Even now, I probably have too many, but I actually love and use them all, so they stay. Maybe for you, it’s an extensive collection of wine glasses. Keep the ones you love and donate the ones you don’t. For pots and pans, you know your favorites. Keep them. For all others, they either need thrown away or given away. Then the hard part – gadgets. I mean, it’s insane how many kitchen gadgets are on the market. And the majority of them you don’t need. At the end of Julia Child’s life, a group of people was curating her kitchen before sending everything to the Smithsonian and even she had gadgets that she couldn’t identify. This is what I do. Sometimes, there are tools that you only use for specific purposes a few times a year. So, I will put them in a box and store them either in the basement or garage. If in a year I haven’t gotten into that box one time, I donate the items. If, however, I find myself going into that box frequently, then I move it back into the kitchen. For tips on cleaning and sanitizing your kitchen, check out this post.
Next, let’s talk attic and/or basement. These spaces can get tricky, especially for people who are very sentimental, or who love decorating for the holidays. Before Chad and I moved to Kansas City, we went through the attic and cleaned out a bunch of stuff that we’d been hanging on to. Most of it was leftover crap I had from college or that we had when we lived in separate apartments. I think we had 3 VCRs. For you youngsters, VCRs are what we old-timers used to play videotapes on before the invention of DVDs. After we got everything cleaned out, I felt great and like this huge weight had been lifted. Then came move out day and we still could not fit all of our things into one moving truck. I couldn’t freaking believe it! When we got to KC, I got super serious and honest with myself on why I was holding on to certain items. We donated or pitched so much stuff, and then I really did feel relieved. Whether you have attic space, basement space, or both, I recommend getting a good quality shelving system. We bought ours on sale at Home Depot. It’s heavy-duty metal and the shelves are adjustable. We also invested in plastic storage containers, which go on sale throughout the year. I recommend clear totes, but honestly, as long as you label the outside, it doesn’t really matter. The key here is to get everything off the floor. Unless of course, it’s something tall or really heavy. And don’t feel like you need to go through all your holiday decorations now unless you have the time. Rather, wait until the season and go through everything then. My rule of thumb is if I don’t use all the holiday decorations I have for that specific holiday, then I’m probably not as in love with it as I was when I bought it, so it goes to donation or the garage sale pile.
And last, but not least, the garage is a space that people often forget about. Chad and I always marvel at some garages we drive by because they are packed to the ceiling with boxes and have a little narrow path to walk through. Maybe they don’t have great storage in their houses, so they have to use the garage. Or maybe they need to listen to the Adulting With CJ podcast and start donating their stuff. We’ve also figured that sometimes there’s no way their vehicles would fit in the garage so that’s why they turn it into storage. Regardless of your situation, you should consider investing in pegboards and shelving. Oftentimes, we forget about how much usable wall space we have for storage. Things like Christmas lights, camping gear, and pool items can go in boxes and put on shelves. For tools, we like pegboards because you can see everything you have rather than being hidden by a tool chest. However, I’m not against tool chests because they are a great way to get yourself organized you just have to make sure that you’re not filling them up with junk or tools you don’t need. Also, check out your paint collection. More than likely, you have old cans of paint and spray paint that are no longer of use and needs to be disposed of properly. My advice here is the same as the basement/attic spaces. Try to get as much as you can off the floor. Especially if you live in an area that can flood. And, it just makes everything look cleaner.
If you have any ideas or questions about getting organized, I’d love to hear them. Know that getting organized takes time. You can’t expect to get everything done in one day. Remember, organizing is a journey, not a destination.