If you feel a groan coming up out of your throat, stop and imagine how you will feel when you get in there without wading! For a long time, my closets haunted me, and you should know that closets don't get done quickly. (By the way, mine still have a long way to go.) Setting aside a little dedicated time to work on it helps, but you can make amazing dents by regularly spending 15 minutes on the closet. Yesterday, I rid my son's closet of items which are too small, or are for winter and will be too small next year. Today, those items were dropped off at Goodwill, and I popped inside and got him a couple of pairs of summer shoes (AND a nice birthday present that would have cost twice as much new, YAY!).
You can start by having the following items ready:
1. A box or paper bag for things which just don't belong in the closet.
2. A box for things to donate.
3. A LARGE trash can for things to toss.
4. A pad of paper and a pencil
5. A timer.
6. Substitute items for what you don't have on this list! (Yes, no excuses.)
Get in comfortable clothing and sturdy shoes before starting. Make sure you aren't thirsty and start right after a meal or snack if possible. Depending on the space you have, set up the trash bag, donation box or bag, and the bag for stuff which doesn't belong just outside the closet near a flat surface, such as your bed or a wardrobe. This is your sorting station. Now set a timer for 15 minutes and grab two or three armfuls of stuff which is not properly stored in your closet (read on the floor, or stuffed anywhere it will fit here!), and go to your sorting station, with your paper and pencil in your hand.
The main thing here is to stay focused. The bill off the floor goes into your "doesn't belong" box, and you make a note on your paper to pay it, or double check that it is paid. The sweater you received as a gift and NEVER wore goes into the donate box. The old holey coat you kept promising yourself you would mend goes in the trash, and anything you haven't used for a year goes there too!
Be ruthless, and remember, the clock is ticking. If you find yourself getting distracted and running back and forth to the closet, sit ON THE FLOOR if that's what you have to do to keep yourself on task, and use your paper and pencil to write down projects and frustrations that come to mind as you go through your things. When the timer goes off, throw out the trash, put what's in the doesn't belong box where they belong, do the most pressing item on your paper, and put the donate box in your car. If you only have two or three items in your donate box, write "Donate" on it with a sharpie, and leave it open (force the flaps down and inward) in the middle of the floor in your closet so you will trip over it until you put more stuff in it, or take it to donate, full or not! If you can't decide where to put the "Doesn't Belong" stuff, do the same thing, and throw something in anytime you are in the closet. You will be amazed at how quickly you can get something done if you "set a trap," making it as easy as falling over a, well, a box to do. What a relief it will be to get the extra stuff out. Until you do so, it will be rather difficult to imagine changing up how you use the closet space.
Don't expect perfection, and make sure to confer with others if it is shared closet space, and find out what they need most from the space. For great closet ideas, check out Susan Pinsky's book "Organizing Solutions for People with ADD."
One session, and you will be hooked, as you envision your closet spaces becoming increasingly usable and helpful to your daily life!
What is your biggest closet challenge? Comment below or on Facebook to let me know!