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Decluttering Your Closet Lowers Stress. Really!

Closet-shelf-IconYou resolved that 2014 is the year you are going to DE-CLUTTER and ORGANIZE. Good for you! There are huge benefits to lightening your load – for your health, your productivity and the planet.

According to Dr. Roberta Lee in her book, The Superstress Solution, a disorganized, untidy, clutter-filled home is not only a symptom of stress but also a source of it. And specialists at the esteemed Mayo Clinic advise,

“When you’re surrounded by more things than you can manage, it sends a visual message that your life is out of control.”

Who wants that? Decluttering your closet is a great way for you to begin a more manageable, happy and streamlined existence. Put on a favorite movie or music, and make it a fun activity for an indoor morning or afternoon.

Let’s Get Lean!

First, take everything out of your closet and drawers. That’s right. This is where floor space and a made bed comes in very handy. You might even want to lay out a few bed sheets on the floor (especially if you have pets.)  Have some thick plastic bags handy.Cleaning out the closet

The one and ONLY rule: If you haven’t worn an item of clothing in 12 months (6 months, if you live in a constant climate), let it go. You probably won’t wear it ever again. We know all the reasons to keep it, “when I’m 15 pounds thinner, it looks great on me.” Or, “This was a gift from my Aunt Susan, old beau, best friend…etc.” Cleaning out your linen closet, sock drawer and shoe rack will also free up space for what you really use.

Repeat to yourself:

“If I haven’t worn it in a year, I’m not going to wear it. I will let someone else get some real use out of it.”

Otherwise, you should probably frame it…just kidding. Out of the closet it must go. And if you do lose weight, you will want to treat yourself to some NEW skinny jeans, trust us.

Make 3 piles

First pile: Definite Discards: Clothes, shoes, belts, bags, towels, sheets, blankets, or accessories that you never wear, don’t fit, haven’t used in years, are out of style or otherwise not favorites. Try things on, you will be amazed at what you will decide to let go of.

Second pile: The Definite Keep Pile. These are the things you reach for every day and feel comfortable and great wearing, or the linens you always use. Get rid of the rest. When you put your now favorite things back into their closets and shelves, color code them – blacks and neutrals; reds yellows and pinks; blues and greens, etc. Keep like with like. Keep all your jeans together on one shelf, all your blouses together on the rack, all your dress shoes together, etc. When you go to get dressed, you will get to what you need more quickly if your things are organized.

organized closetThird pile: Things that need cleaning or repair. But you have to promise to get that done right away.

Everything you give away goes to someone who needs it. One shoe, a torn dress that cannot be sewn back together, a piece of clothing that is thread-worn—we take it all and recycle it. Anything that has been used for painting or has oil on it, like old rags is not recyclable and should be trashed. Everything else is fair game. Look at our How To page for more on preparing your items for drop off.

Reward yourself

When you finish and drop off your bags in a clothing collection bin, reward yourself with a hot bath, massage, or dinner out. The brain responds to rewards, and in time this new pattern of being organized will become a habit. In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg claims you can make anything a habit if you understand the cue, establish a routine and provide a reward.

It will take less time than you think. It’s a great rainy day activity that will pay huge dividends. So make 2014 the year you lighten your load – in your home and from your mind. We’ll take it from there.

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