Tag Archives: closet

Perspectives on Letting Go

freedom release letting go

Ahh, attachments to our stuff. It’s really all a mental game. If we were truly able to assess our belongings according to our practical needs, we would probably be living with 10% of what we own.

Why is letting go so hard? How do we manage the psychology of releasing things?

Over the years, we’ve seen people find success with one (or a combination) of these three approaches:

Focus on how you can help yourself

Honor the life you want to live. Have a vision of how you want to be in the world and edit your stuff so you can match that and live your best life now. This is about releasing the past and creating your ideal future. You’re honoring yourself by letting that be your focus.

Focus on how you can help other people

Recognize that your excess is a form of abundance. Release your objects so they can serve their purpose in other people’s lives. Release resentment or other negative emotions that the objects bring up in you and put them out into the world to do positive things for other people.

Feng Shui expert Karen Kingston tells a story of a divorced woman had a pair of large, expensive decorative urns from her divorce settlement. They were beautiful but made her think, with bitterness, of her ex-husband.  She was encouraged to sell them and get a lot of money for them instead of having them foster bitterness and resentment and a constant reminder of a painful relationship.

Focus on how you can help the environment

Bringing in less can aid the environment, but disposing of things in a thoughtful way will help offset the environmental impact of consumption. Some people hesitate to clean out a closet or garage because they don’t want it all to go to landfill. Take advantage of living in the San Francisco Bay Area which is filled with easy options for recycling/reuse and responsible disposal.

Stopwaste.org is a quick way to find what is available near you. There are many places that accept e-waste, expired medicines, CFLs, hazardous waste, styrofoam, packing peanuts and air-packs. Partially used art and office supplies can go to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse or S.C.R.A.P., building materials and hardware can go to Urban Ore or a Habitat for Humanity ReStore outlet. Plastic children’s toys, if not donate-able, can be recycled with hard plastic at most urban recycling centers. There are also resources for your unneeded medical equipment (wheelchairs, walkers, tubing, etc.)

Freecycle, Craigslist, Nextdoor, and other community neighborhood forums are great places to post usable items for free.  These places allow you to find people who want your cast-offs and will take care of the hauling!

If you don’t want to deal with the public, you can pay for a hauler to come. EcoHaul, 1-800-Got Junk, Lugg are companies that advertise responsible disposal of items the remove from your place.

There is no “right” approach. What is that key that will release you from the obligation to hold on to things you don’t need and really don’t even want? Not sure how to get rid of something? Just ask! As Professional Organizers, we’ve got ideas!

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Filed under Decluttering, organizing, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

Tackle Messy Build-Up With Your Kids This Summer

organizing crafts

Everyone with kids knows that they typically come with lots of STUFF. And somehow it keeps coming in…if you have more than one kid the challenge is even greater.

This buildup is natural. More than any other time of life, the very nature of childhood is about growth and change. Your child’s abilities, interests, and sizes are constantly evolving  – and all the toys, clothes, learning materials change along with them. And young ones are magnets for toys and gifts from relatives.

This means if you aren’t keeping a constant vigil on moving out outgrown items (and how many of us are, really?) you’ve likely got some backlog of unused and unneeded kid stuff.

If your kids have a little more time at home during the summer, take advantage of that to do some weeding.

Break It Down

You’ll have a better chance at success if you focus their attention onto one category of stuff at a time. A general request to “clean out the playroom” isn’t going to get them very far. But a specific request to gather up all the DVDs and choose the ones they love to watch is much easier to get follow through on.

If you divide up the project into categories you’re teaching an important skill about grouping “like items” together.

Put out a big bag or box and have the kids weed some or all of these groups:

  • Board games
  • Clothes that don’t fit (can even break this down by type – tops, pants, jackets)
  • Sports equipment
  • Craft supplies
  • Art projects/ drawings
  • Books
  • DVDs, video games
  • Electronics
  • Toys (you can break this category down by type – electronic, stuffies, dolls)

Create a System and Motivate

Sometimes it’s easier to decide what to keep, rather than what to let go of. Clearly labeling 3 bags or boxes – KEEP, MAYBE, DONATE/SELL can help. Let your family know it’s like going shopping for things they love within our own collection. This helps kids get in touch with making conscious choices about what they really use and like.

Motivation strategies to get them going:

  • Help them visualize the end result – more space to play with their favorite items
  • Use a timer to bound the work
  • Offer incentives or rewards – a movie night after clearing out unwanted DVDs for example.
  • Create a contest or game around who can purge the most 

Enlist Help

If you’re paying for a babysitter or childcare, enlist their help to tackle 1 category a day. Even as little as ½ hour each week spent on weeding will go a long way to staying ahead of the next influx of new gifts or purchases!

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Filed under artwork, children, Decluttering, General Organizing, Kids, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

Making Room for the Clothes You Love

clothes-i-cant-get-rid-of-1

If you’re considering a closet makeover – the best first step is to purge your clothes so you know exactly what types of things, and how much of each category, you need to store. Good closet design is based on an accurate picture of what you’re keeping. Exactly how much hanging space will you need? Do you need shelves or drawers or both? How many accessories such as belts, ties, scarves, purses do you want to accommodate in there? Where will shoes go?

Can you imagine the lightness you would feel if you opened your closet and loved everything that was in there?

But I Paid A Lot of Money For It!

Purging clothes can be hard! As organizers, we often hear these reasons for holding onto certain items of clothing:

  • It reminds me of a fabulous event
  • It reminds me of a past self I don’t want to let go of
  • I know it’s coming back in style someday
  • It’s a little scratchy, but I think I can wear a camisole underneath it
  • If my husband/wife knew I had gotten rid of it s/he would feel bad
  • I wish I was still that size…

And the list goes on…

Does keeping this hold me back or move me forward?

There is one simple question to ask yourself as you consider a piece of clothing: “Does keeping this hold me back or move me forward?”

  • If it makes you feel bad about yourself, it’s holding you back
  • If it sparks feelings of guilt, shame, regret, or frustration – it’s holding you back
  • If you love it but don’t use it and keeping it crowds out room for clothes you actually wear – it’s holding you back
  • If it allows you to envision a positive future self, it moves you forward
  • If it makes you smile inside and feel great, it moves you forward

Hold onto what helps you lovingly accept yourself for who you are today.

Sometimes an item of clothing won’t spark joy, but it performs a valuable function. For example, don’t immediately get rid of the only pair of black pants you have (if you wear them a lot) until you get something that you love to replace them. If you’re having trouble sensing how a piece makes you feel, find an item clothing that definitely sparks joy and compare it to that.

Now that you’ve decided what you are keeping, reward your hard work with a closet design that makes the clothes you love to wear both visible and accessible.

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Filed under Bedroom, Closets, Decluttering

5 Tips for Designing an IKEA Armoire

Here's one kind of "closet" that can be made using the PAX system from IKEA.

Here’s one kind of “closet” that can be made using the PAX system from IKEA. The final product had sliding glass doors. In 2016, this unit cost about $1,700

An armoire is a free-standing closet. If you have minimal closet space or just need more closed storage, an armoire can be a lifesaver. IKEA’s PAX product line is one of the most customizable; it allows you to design the exact kind of storage that you need. Here are 5 useful tips for designing an IKEA PAX armoire:

TIP: Before starting to plan, take an accurate inventory of your clothes. How much hanging space do you need? Are most of your clothes short-hanging (less than 40”) or do you have long robes, gowns or slacks hanging with clips? What kind of folded clothes do you have? Socks, underwear, jammies? Are you going to store shoes in the system or not? At this point you don’t need to know HOW you’re storing everything but you need to know exactly WHAT you’re trying to store.

TIP: Be mindful of prime real estate. When designing your system, know that the prime area of storage is the zone from forehead to hip height. Plan to stow most-used items in this zone.

TIP: You can design the closet yourself using the online planning tool. This tool enables you to drag and drop all the components and features. Is it user friendly? Hmm…you have to be fairly computer-savvy to use it. You can also get help from an IKEA staff person in the store. Some of the staff actually have knowledge of how to build your system.

TIP: These are modular units, but the very first decision you make is what kind of doors you want to use; sliding doors or doors that open out. This is because the basic frame is different for these different door styles. Also, you need to choose the best height for your PAX system. It comes in 2 different heights. Generally, you want to maximize your vertical storage (the taller option) if your room can accommodate it.

TIP: You can save money by going full DIY including pulling all the pieces from the warehouse and assembling yourself (2 people required) or you can get IKEA to help as much as you want. With your design, the IKEA staff can gather the components, deliver it to your house and install it.

* Note: If you are going to purchase their installation, it is important to know that you are responsible for removing the baseboards in the area you want the armoire installed so the IKEA installers can attach it to the wall.

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Filed under Bedroom, children, Closets, Decluttering, General Organizing, Living Room, organizing, Products, Storage

Organizing Games and Puzzles

Game Storage - Before

Is your game collection in a jumble?

Fall brings to mind thoughts of being cozy inside, playing games with the family. Having a nice assortment of games to choose from is a great resource for entertainment. If that collection is a disaster of crowded, hard to pullout broken boxes and missing pieces it defeats the purpose of having easy access to the fun.

Here are some tips for keeping your collection inviting and accessible:

Fresh start. Make a fresh start by pulling out ALL the games & puzzles you own. Cull out any that are no longer age appropriate or no longer played. It can be nice to keep a few around for younger visitors.

Repair boxes. Those well-loved games often end up with torn corners and worn boxes; pieces can get lost. Clear packing tape works best to repair ragged boards and box corners.

Bag up loose parts. If you have a game that routinely loses pieces or ends up not fitting back in the box properly you can use ziploc bags to contain game parts. If you need to store games on their sides instead of flat, bagging the parts inside prevents chaos when you open it.

Younger kids’ board puzzles that aren’t boxed often take up a lot of space and have to be stored flat. Quart and gallon size ziplocs work well to hold those pieces separate from the boards. You can also use rigid clear plastic storage envelopes found at office supplies stores. Label the bags with the puzzles’ names and store them and the boards vertically instead of flat for easier access.

Sort and store by size. Stack games that are similarly shaped. Square boxes separate from rectangular boxes. Try not to stack more than 3-4 games for easier access.

Card games, dice games and small games do best stored all together in a shoebox sized box which then can be stored with other games. Be sure to label the box!

If you have enough room, it’s also nice to separate young children’s games from the rest of the family’s so they can always access them easily.

Weed regularly. Ages and interests will keep changing over time so every year or so go back through the list above and keep your game area refreshed and relevant.

Investing a little time in organizing your game area pays back big rewards for family time. Kids can see what their choices are, get games out for themselves and start playing right away. It’s also easier for them to put them away themselves!

Game Storage - after

Here games are stored vertically. We’ve used an open basket to contain playing cards and small parts.

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Filed under children, Closets, General Organizing, home organizing, Kids, organizing

A Closet System for as Little as $200?

Image

The Container Store is having their best sale of the year.

Until February 11th, 2014, elfa® closet and wall systems – and installation – are all 30% off.  That means you can get a simple 6′ closet system for less than $200…if you install it yourself.

Why should you care about this?  

What better way to challenge yourself to tackle that entry closet – or your bedroom closet – than having the promise of a fresh system that is infinitely customizable and elegant as well?

But, beware!  Don’t buy the system until you have specific plans to have it installed. You don’t want it to end up in your stack of organizing projects, weighing you down with guilt.

Read what we posted about this closet system during last year’s sale.

Can you imagine the possibilities of redesigned closets and less clutter? What could hold you back?  Ask for help!

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Filed under Bedroom, Closets, Decluttering, General Organizing, Storage

Clutter = Gratitude?

Toy clutter is just one component of a too full house

Toy clutter is just one component of a too-full house

As kids move forward through life they leave in their wake a plethora of disposed, outgrown, and cast-off objects:

  • Too small clothes and toys
  • Sport and hobby equipment from past interests
  • Art and school memorabilia

Often we see these things cluttering up closets, rooms, garages and attics. We see families struggling with feelings of overwhelm trying to stay abreast of the flow of incoming kid stuff. We see these objects triggering feelings of nostalgia and sadness  in older parents whose kids have moved on to their own lives.

Next time you’re tripping over last season’s soccer cleats, take time to be grateful for what has been and what is to come.

How do you hold in tandem the perspective that all that kid clutter is a pain to deal with but is also a sign of abundance, a trail of a rich life?

Although the negative effects of clutter are evident, there is another perspective as well.  The whole reason for our “stuff” is to facilitate our lives.  These things are evidence of a rich and varied life – active family members, interest in the outside world, and an engagement in the learning process, for example. They are signs of the ability to provide for our families.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, take time to acknowledge the gifts that come with the clutter.  And, then ask your grown kids to take some of the stuff out of their old bedrooms.

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Filed under General Organizing, Holidays, Memorabilia, Perspective