Wednesday, April 25 , 2018, 11:36 pm | Fair 52º


Simple Steps to Declutter Your Closets, Cabinets and Countertops ... Now

By applying the Three Gs of organizational tips, you’ll have that mess at bay before you know it

Look familiar? For many of us, closets are catch-all storage units that we all intend to clean up and organize someday. We’re not that far into the new year, however, and there’s no time like the present. Click to view larger
Look familiar? For many of us, closets are catch-all storage units that we all intend to clean up and organize someday. We’re not that far into the new year, however, and there’s no time like the present. (Dave Bemis / Noozhawk photo)

Most of us struggle to keep our homes organized, and there may be no bigger setback than holiday hosting and decorating — especially when it comes to our long-suffering closets. The urgent need to plunge back into work schedules and family routines often means that we jam our holiday decorations into any available hiding place and forget about them for another 11 months.

Knowing that a fresh nightmare lurks behind every door may make winter seem like the worst of all times to de-clutter your closets, but it can be one of the best — especially if you can see that holiday hangover of disorganized decorations and unwanted gifts as motivation, rather than an obstacle.

Why do our closets suffer such indignities?

“For starters, closets seem like an afterthought ... they’re not seen by friends who come over,” said Lindsay Gabbard, a designer with California Closets in Santa Barbara.

From both personal and professional experience, she has seen the difference an organized closet can make. She clearly recalls the days when her closet was nothing but “a pole and a top shelf.” It’s no wonder that people struggle, she notes, when all a closet has is one high shelf and they “have to lob stuff up.”

Perhaps the biggest obstacle for people who can’t get their closets organized, though, is more basic: “They don’t know there’s a better way,” she said.

In addition to her design services, Gabbard endorses strategies such as donating things that haven’t been worn recently.

“Some people say they turn the hangers backward, and if it’s still backward a year later, then they give that clothing away,” she added.

Writing in The Washington Post, Jura Koncius gives 10 practical tips for conquering the demons that seem to lurk not only in our closets but also in our cabinets and on our countertops. Her advice can be grouped into three categories: getting ready, getting it done and going forward.

Don’t know where to begin? How about scheduling a cleanup date on your calendar? (Dave Bemis / Noozhawk photo)
Don’t know where to begin? How about scheduling a cleanup date on your calendar? (Dave Bemis / Noozhawk photo)

To get ready, set goals. List specific things you want to tackle and, equally important, attach each one to a date on your calendar. Don’t be afraid to start small, whether that’s with a kitchen junk drawer, a single shelf or countertop, or the corner of a room. Some people intentionally break down their lists into things they can accomplish in no more than a half-hour. Succeeding at one small task can build momentum by rewarding you each time to see the results.

Once you’ve started, use a few simple techniques to help you keep going. Label four boxes with “Trash,” “Store,” “Donate” and “Sell.” Be honest about the things you don’t want or need, and get them out of the house first.

One step that can make a huge difference is to start with bulky coats and sweaters. How many do you and your family members really need? How long since they have been worn? Winter is the best time to donate warm clothing to homeless shelters, thrift stores and other social-service organizations.

To keep yourself from falling behind on the new clutter as you focus on the old, set up a 2015 box or file for each family member. Rather than this year’s papers, projects and memorabilia becoming clutter, they can create a future time capsule in their own box or file.

Also in the spirit of looking ahead, consider a “one in, one out” rule for books. For every book you bring into your home, set one aside in a box for donation to a library or thrift store.

Scheduling a home pickup date with a local charity can help keep you focused until the job is done. An even stronger motivator? Schedule a party so you can proudly show off the results of your labor.

Clean Break

If posting a simple checklist helps keep you going, here is a condensed version of Jura Koncius’ advice:

» Set specific goals and put them on a calendar.

» Identify small projects that will give you big satisfaction.

» Clear horizontal surfaces that you see constantly.

» Compartmentalize clutter by sorting it into boxes labeled “Trash,” “Store,” “Donate” and “Sell.”

» Share unwanted warm clothing right now, while the less fortunate have the biggest need for it.

» Honestly examine other things you truly don’t want or need, and get rid of them immediately.

» Use the “one in, one out” rule for books.

» Set up a 2015 memo box or folder for each family member.

» Schedule a home pickup date with a local charity.

» Set a date and invite people over.

Noozhawk contributing writer Dave Bemis can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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