10 Important questions to ask when cleaning out clothes

When cleaning out the bedroom closet, deciding what to keep and what to let go of can be difficult. It doesn’t have to be if you ask yourself these 10 important questions

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When cleaning out the bedroom closet, deciding what to keep and what to let go of can be difficult. It doesn’t have to be if you ask yourself these 10 important questions when cleaning out clothes. pexels-photo-165831Most people can come up with all kinds of reasons why they should hang on to something and as a result, very few items leave the closet. Clothing that is not worn is clutter. Clutter is anything that is not needed or wanted and is taking up valuable space.

As you evaluate your clothing, be honest with yourself and stick to your initial reaction. By the way, don’t hold each item when evaluating it. Research shows that the longer you touch an item, the more attached you become to it. I always suggest working with a friend or professional organizer to take away this attachment issue.

Question 1 – Does it fit?

The fit is everything! If it doesn’t fit properly it will never be worn! If you’re not sure – Go ahead – Try the item on. Is it too tight or too loose? If a shirt or dress, does it fit under the arms when you move? too bigWhen I wear something that is too small, even just a little bit, I spend the entire day asking myself why I kept this item in my closet and wish I could change into something else. Somehow that same item seems to make its way back into the closet. If you have items like this, make the decision today to let them go. Make room in the closet for the other pieces you really love – and perhaps some new ones? If you just can’t let some go, store them in a container under the bed or somewhere out of the way.

Question 2 – Does it look good on me?

This is where a friend really comes in handy! Ask for an honest opinion and also be honest with yourself. backsideGo take a look in the mirror. Have you been given compliments in the past about this item?

Question 3 – When was the last time I wore this?

The quickest way to know if you really like a clothing item is to ask yourself how long it has been since you last wore it. A standard rule of thumb is: let it go if you haven’t worn it in six months. I believe a better rule is: make it two months. Unless it is a sweater or very seasonal item, if you haven’t worn it in the last two months it is probably not something that needs to be taking up space. Think about it – that’s a minimum of 60 opportunities to wear an item!

Question 4 – How many do I need?

We all have something we really love and subsequently purchase more often than we should. For me it is black t-shirts. I love when they look fresh and new and I am just drawn to them. For a long time I just kept adding them to my closet until I eventually had more black t-shirts than I could ever wear. The best way to avoid problems like this is to live by the rule: one in, one out. Evaluate your multiples and decide how many you really, actually need. Then choose your favorites to keep.

Question 5 – Do I really want it?

When I cleaned out my closet a few years ago I was amazed by the number of items I let go. The most powerful question for me was – Do I really want it? Would I even miss it if it was gone? As I sorted through I realized that I had kept items simply because they had been there so long. They were just part of the closet. But more importantly, many of the items held memories – some good, some bad. They told a story. Some held me back.

Do you have clothing in your closet that tells stories from years ago? scarvesI didn’t keep these items because I still liked to wear them, but because they held emotions. I am happy to say I did let them all go. It wasn’t easy but it was necessary. I had to be honest with myself about why I was holding onto items that hadn’t been worn in months or even years. As I pulled each of these items out of the closet, I thought about the memories they held and then said “I am letting this go so I can live in the  present.” It was one of the best things I ever did for myself.

Question 6 – What is the condition?

This is a no-brainer, yet sometimes we still struggle with it. We have all had that favorite shirt or sweater or whatever that we love. folded clothesIt’s those items that you can’t bear to let go of even though they are now worn and may be damaged with stains or tears. Clothing in poor condition does nothing for self-esteem or improving our look. When clothing is damaged it is always best to let it go and find something similar to replace it. Who doesn’t like an excuse to buy something new! If you can’t let it go, keep it for wearing around the house.

Question 7 – Would I buy this item again at full price?

This question often brings most people to a screeching stop. It is a very straightforward question that doesn’t have anything to do with emotions or memories or condition. It’s simple. Have you enjoyed this item enough that you would purchase it again at full price? If answering this question requires a lot of thought, the answer is likely “no.” Go with your gut. img_5940Really pay attention to items that were purchased on clearance. Did you purchase because it was a good deal or because you loved the item? I have found that very few items pass the test if they were purchased at a 50% or greater discount. To help maintain your closet in the future, ask yourself this question when considering an on sale purchase at the store.

Question 8 – Does it make me feel confident?

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As you evaluate your items, think about how your feel when you wear them. Do you feel good in the item or does it make you feel fat or uncomfortable? There is no reason to keep clothes that don’t make you feel good!

 

Question 9 – Is the color good on me?

We each have undertones to our skin which affect our ability to wear (and look good in) certain colors. colorsIf you are unsure of which colors are best for you, ask family and friends which colors they love on you. Another resource I have used since it was published in 1980 is a book by Carole Jackson called Color Me Beautiful. Carole provides excellent information to help you discover the right colors for you. Armed with this information, take color into consideration when evaluating your items. Wearing a color that is not in your color wheel can make even the best looking outfit look awful. When you are done with your closet, you should see a spectrum of colors that work well with each other and also look great on you!

Question 10 – Do I have room for it?

Unfortunately we only have so much room in the closet, which is why it is important to keep only the items you really like and will wear. If you are struggling with whether to keep an item or let it go, think about the space you have to work with. I see my closet as my own private boutique. I want items I am proud to wear, that are arranged neatly and hung with care. I love using slim, velvet suit hangers to maximize my space and to keep my clothes wrinkle-free. I will not add items that create clutter in my boutique – that wouldn’t make for a good shopping experience. Think about your favorite boutique and then recreate the ambiance in your own closet.closet-photo-for-site

Decluttering the clothes in your closet will take time and energy but will be well worth the effort! If you are like many others, once you start you may just want to continue through the whole house!

 

 

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6 Tips for Organizing Success

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Living clutter free

Organize your refrigerator like pro

An organized kitchen is incredibly satisfying! But what about the most overlooked item in the kitchen – the refrigerator? How does yours stack up? Does the inside of your refrigerator look like it has been through a tornado? Can you find items right away? Do you often find rotting items that were forgotten? It may be time for a refrigerator makeover! Keep reading for some easy to implement, simple solutions anyone can do.

Clean it up

Set aside a 2-3 hours to complete this project. Get started by clearing a good amount of space on a counter near the refrigerator. Starting with the top shelf, pull every item out one by one and evaluate each by asking:

  • Is the item within the expiration date?
  • Does it look and smell right?
  • Is anyone actually going to consume this item?
  • Do you need the item?
  • For leftovers, was it made within the last day or two?

If you answer No to any of these questions, go ahead and toss it. Place items you want to keep on the counter and sort them as you go into categories such as: deli meat, cheeses, condiments, dairy, and so on. Continue to clear all shelves and crisper drawers until everything is on the counter sorted by category.

When you finish, your refrigerator should be empty and ready for a deep cleaning. Pull out the shelves and crispers to wash with soap and water. While these dry, wipe down all surfaces inside the refrigerator until it shines, then put the shelves and crispers back in. I prefer to keep my crisper drawers open, without the shelf that usually covers them for a more flexible space. Evaluate the distance between shelves if they are adjustable so that you make the most of the space.

Sort it out

Gather several plastic containers and a Lazy Susan to use inside your refrigerator. You can find them for cheap at The Dollar Store or if you prefer higher quality containers (at a higher price point) try: The Container Store, Marshals or Target. I got mine at The Dollar Store and they have done just fine.

Get started by gathering all cooked meat such as: deli meats, hot dogs, baked chicken for salads, and so on. Place them in a container with a handle so they can easily be pulled out. All cheeses including slices, tubs, cubes, and more can be stored in the same type of container used for the meats. Keep both of these containers together on the top shelf. When I am low on space, like after adding a lot of new groceries, I will stack these two containers together.

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Tuck in egg cartons to the left of the meat and cheese containers to keep eggs protected. Store any leftovers on the other side so that they don’t get lost and are more likely to be eaten. Try to limit the number of leftovers so they don’t end up overtaking all of the space. Tip: only keep a total of 8-10 Tupperware containers in your kitchen. I know it is not a lot but it is enough. If you want to reduce clutter in the kitchen, start with the Tupperware!

Use the second shelf to hold a Lazy Susan and fill it up with condiments, pickles, dips, or whatever you use the most. We use the left half of the shelf for the Lazy Susan and the right for drinks.

In my refrigerator, I use the crispers like containers on the bottom shelf. The left side is stacked with additional containers to keep fruit and veggies separated and fresh. The right crisper is for dairy which includes: milk, yoghurt, sour cream and so on. In our house, we all drink different milk so one of the milk cartons was placed above with the drinks. Everything else such as salad dressings, two liter soda bottles, ice cream syrups and other less used items are kept on the door.

That’s  it! Once you finish you’ve done all the hard work. Now all you need to do is maintain. I suggest a basic maintenance once per week to evaluate expiration dates and toss things. It will also help you with knowing what you need from the grocery store! Then once per month wipe down the shelves and containers.

No matter what style or age your refrigerator is, you can customize this system to work for you! If you have a larger refrigerator you may want to use additional containers or even another Lazy Susan. The important thing is that it works for you and your family.  I hope you will give it a try!

6 Tips for Organizing Success

As we go about our busy lives, clutter finds its way into our homes and offices and we in turn, find creative ways to manage it. In time, clutter can take over our lives and our spaces, causing us to become unproductive and stressed. Many people claim they feel like a weight was lifted and have a new sense of calm, peace, and clear-thinking after removing the clutter and organizing. Try the 6 tips for organizing success below when you are ready to let go of clutter once and for all and find organizing success:

  1. Create a plan and find a system that works for YOU

There are millions of articles, videos and books we can turn to for organizing ideas but not all organizing solutions will work for you. Knowing how you want your home to flow will help you know what will and will not work. Before you start your next organizing project take the time to think about what you hope to accomplish. pexels-photo-234790What will the end result look like? How will it feel? Think about how you want your spaces to function and how they are currently used. If living in a small apartment or home, do you have the space for everything? Keep in mind that trying to cram too many items into a space can make it look cluttered and disorganized. Is there too much furniture in the space? How much “stuff” do you really need? Decide if you thrive in a space where items are contained or one where items are visible. Many believe that being organized means that everything is lined up perfectly and is labeled, but it is really about removing unnecessary items and being able to find exactly what you need, when you need it. Think about your goals and then get started in one area. Complete the one area before you move on to the next one.

  1. Don’t rely on staged photos to guide your efforts

Pintrest is a great place to find amazing photos of organized homes and organizing ideas. We pin, we dream, we try, we sometimes have success, and we often wonder why we don’t get the same results. Sound familiar? Or what about the home makeover shows? It’s so quick and easy and amazing! So why can’t we get our homes whipped into shape with a few changes? One reason: it’s staged. Staged spaces are not functional spaces. Take a look through photos of pantry organization for example and you will find the most beautifully arranged space with containers and baskets and coordinated colors. It looks perfect and we want it! But in many of them, if you look closely, they do not contain the usual items an average household would have on hand in their pantry. You may be able to copy some of the elements but it will never look just like the picture. The point is, don’t go for perfection! Make it your own and most importantly make sure it will work for you!

  1. Purge, purge, and purge again!

Organizing is not a one-day event but an ongoing process of acquiring and letting go. As you evaluate items, ask yourself what the item really means to you and what would happen if you never saw it again. Would you miss it? Sometimes we think something means a lot to us but often, we are just used to having it there or it holds a memory of some kind. Think about why you have kept an item and what it really means to you. If it is a memory item, do you love it enough to display it? If it only sits in a box, is it really that important to you? Have you considered taking a digital photo of the item as a way to keep it?

We all struggle with letting go of items. We think about how we may need the item one day or that we spent a lot of money for the item. With clothing, we argue that the item will fit again after losing weight or that the style will come back around eventually. pexels-photo-165831The best way to evaluate clothing is to ask “Would I buy this in the store today for full price?” If thought or hesitation is required to answer the question, the item should most likely be removed. The clothes that remain should fit great, be the right colors, and be in excellent condition. If you have organized your home and removed all of the unwanted items and it still feels cluttered, you may need to do more purging. A good rule of thumb is: three times is a charm! Typically, it will take three times of purging to get down to what is really wanted and/or needed.

  1. Give items a home and make time for upkeep

Does everything in your house have a home? Every item should have a place where it lives when it is not in use. By following this rule it is simple to return items to their place and maintain organization. In our house, we do a ten-minute clean-up where we gather items and quickly to return them to their homes. Read more about ten-minute clean-ups and hidden clutter here. When we finish, the house looks picked up and comfortable. As items enter your home, decide right away where they will live to avoid clutter build-up. It is also a good idea to create a routine for entering the house with items such as: your purse, jacket, shopping bags, groceries, mail, and so on. Decide where these things should be placed so that they are not creating clutter.

  1. Think before you buy

A steadfast way to maintain a clutter-free home is to stop clutter at the door! Evaluate your purchases and think about where the item(s) will live. Do you have the space? Will you remove something else? Do you already have something similar? Why are you buying it? img_5940

These are hard questions, especially when you really want something. Try to step away from your emotions to answer the questions honestly. Think of the money you will save over time! Do this with all purchases and learn to shop with purpose by keeping a list of items you need to buy and then stick to the list.

6. Get inspired! Now is the time to get organized! Good luck!

Visit Harmony Organizing Services at www.HarmonyOrganizing.com

The Hunt for Hidden Clutter

The New Year is a great time to start a handy new habit – hunting for hidden clutter! In my previous post How to Follow Through on Your New Year’s Resolution to Get Organized, I proposed that making several small goals to reach a big goal is better than making a New Year’s resolution. A small goal I keep year-round is to keep my house clutter-free of papers and miscellaneous trash, what I call clutter-trash or hidden clutter.

I don’t know how it accumulates so quickly, but there is never a shortage of this type of clutter in my house. I enjoy doing this activity because it makes such a big difference and only takes about five to ten minutes. The first time will take longer and you may need to set aside a few hours to conquer it all. The most common response to clutter-trash is to throw out the obvious trash such as empty plastic water bottles or wrappers and to stack everything else. Its the everything else that is creating the cluttered, unpolished look you are trying to avoid. Don’t stack – if you don’t use it or need it, toss it! If it belongs somewhere else, take it there!

To tackle your clutter-trash go on a hidden clutter hunt. When you are done you may feel like you’ve found a treasure! This can be especially fun for kids and is a great way to teach them how to keep their rooms and other spaces in the home clutter-free.

To get started, gather up every bit of trash in your home – you know, the scraps of paper, old magazines that will never be read, mail that is stacked all over, old fliers, kids paperwork that is no longer relevant, and so on. Check every room, dressers, counter tops, coffee table, desks, entryway, dining table, and anywhere else the clutter-trash may be hiding.

As you go, carry one bag for trash and another for items that will need to be shred. If you aren’t sure about an item, set it aside with any others and evaluate it further when you are done. You may be surprised by the amount of trash and paper you end up with in your bags! Once you are finished, throw out the bag of trash and then shred the items in the other bag. This is a habit that should take place at least once per week but daily is even better. It is a great feeling to go to bed every night knowing the clutter-trash is cleared out.

When it comes to shredding papers, I have found that most people keep a stack or a box or a file of items that need to be shred. In the past, I also used this method. But let’s be realistic, unless you have hundreds of items to shred per day, there is no need to keep them around. I discovered this when my pile of shredding grew so large I had no choice but to stack-letters-letter-handwriting-family-letters-51191deal with it. It took a full day of shredding, waiting for the shredder to cool down, and shredding by hand as well. By the end of the day it was all done and I decided that I would never let it get to that point again! I created a new system for myself that has worked well. Every night I go through my purse for receipts and then gather any mail or papers around the house. I look through each one, keep any that I may need and hand shred the rest. Yes, hand shred. I have found that I do a better job than the shredder and I am able to make sure all important information is completely destroyed.

The first time I completed the hunt for hidden clutter exercise I was amazed by how much I collected! I couldn’t believe that so much trash was sitting out around my house! Sometimes, when items such as trash and paper sit for a while they just become part of the scene and we begin to look past them. Take a look around your home with fresh eyes to see what you can find.

Learn more about Harmony Organizing Services at: www.harmonyorganizing.com

 

How To Follow Through On Your New Year’s Resolution To Get Organized

Have you made New Year’s resolutions for the new year? Is getting organized at the top of the list?  Top New Year’s resolutions for many include: losing weight, quitting a bad habit, or finally getting organized once and for all. As the year draws to a close, something about starting a new year brings longings of a fresh start, a clean slate, and a desire to remove accumulated clutter both physical and mental. So many see it as a time to make proclamations for the New Year and envision how things will be different. Some swear by the New Year’s resolution while others run from it, knowing that chances are, the resolution will be abandoned within weeks.

For me, a resolution is an empty commitment made simply because it is a new year and it is something I wish I could do. I don’t make the life-changing annual resolutions. Instead, I plan small goals for myself that will move me closer to achieving a bigger goal. More importantly, I don’t create these goals a the start of a new year.

Let’s face it, we all have bad habits or things we’d like to change. The best way to deal with them is head-on and regularly, throughout the year. Why limit yourself to just one time per year to make changes? And why make just one change? I come up with new goals for myself regularly. An ongoing goal I set for myself is to keep my spaces uncluttered. I know that doing this helps me in all other areas of my life. Cluttered spaces can lead to a cluttered mind!

Clutter can build up quickly if it is allowed to. I describe clutter as a leaky pipe. At first, it is not noticeable and the small amount of water is manageable. But if that leak is left unattended, it will soon overtake the area and the space can no longer serve its purpose until it is dealt with. If your spaces have been overtaken by clutter, take the time each day to stop the leaking so that you can begin to feel in control of your space.

I encourage you to rethink how you go about making New Year’s resolutions. This year, prepare a few step by step, deliberate, manageable goals for yourself to accomplish throughout the year. pexels-photo-58457If you are not currently in control of clutter, think about how you can get organized. Evaluate each room in your home. How is the space used? How you would like it to be used? Are there too many items in the space? How about items that should really be in a different room? Think about how you would like your space to look and be used. Look at pictures, write down ideas, and dream a little to get started. In upcoming posts I will help you move forward with this goal by providing actionable organizing tips and steps for success.

Learn more about Harmony Organizing Services at: www.harmonyorganizing.com 

How to Manage Your Make-up Madness

November 28, 2016

If you are guilty of having more make-up than you could possibly use in a lifetime, you are not alone! You know how it goes – the color looks fun or it looks great on the model but when you get home it isn’t what you expected. So it gets tossed into the pile with the hope that someday you will be able to use it.

Make-up can quickly add up and become overwhelming!

I tackled my make up stash about six months ago and went through each item one by one. By the end, I had a huge pile of items to part with. It felt great to let these items go! Best of all, it freed up lots of space! This initial make-up purge was a good start but more recently I decided it wasn’t enough. So I went for a second pass and this time I was ready to get serious!

To get started, I gathered all of my makeup as I did previously, but this time I also searched other locations besides my bathroom such as purses, car, drawers, and tote bags. I laid it all out on a cleared surface and then sorted items by category, then by similarity. Having an idea of how many you ultimately want to keep will help to narrow down what to keep. My plan was to keep only a few of each category so that I could always find what I needed.

I decided lipstick would be an easy place to start so I eliminated the ones I knew were not my best colors. Then I examined the color itself, the depth of color, the creamyness, and the age. I ended up with just seven that I really love to wear. Not a bad start…

Previously, When I  let go of some of my make-up, I found that I had more eye shadows than I could ever possibly use and let go of a full plastic grocery bag full of them! Yes, a full bag! I will admit that I felt a little sick over all of the items only used once or never used. It was an eye opener! So this time, I only had to deal with just a handful of eye shadows. I was very specific about which ones I would keep and made decisions based on the color, the color on me, the age of the product, and how often I chose to wear it. I also went through a stash of eyeliners and lip pencils, chose a few that look good and let the others go. When it comes to mascara, if it’s old, toss it!

With only the best make-up left, I decided to give it a new home. I found this awesome three-tier tray container with a handle at Target for less than $10. I put it together in the order that I do my make-up each morning. The top tray is base make-ups: eye shadow base, primer, foundation, make-up sponges. The second tray is the eyes: shadows, mascara, eye liner, brushes. And the third tray is finishers: powder, bronzer, blush, and brushes. Each tray can be used on its own and fastens back together with clasps. It is an easy, organized system and I always know exactly where my items are!

After doing this exercise, I was left with only the items I actually used and enjoy. As items get low I know when I need to pick up another one. I did have a few items that are not used every day, such as lipsticks and a couple of back up cosmetics. I store these items in a jewelry holder in my bathroom on the back of the door. They are easy to access and I can easily evaluate what I have on hand. If excess make-up is causing you to feel overwhelmed or unorganized – get rid of it! Let me know how it goes!