Organizing a closet can be one of the most rewarding tasks in a home or office. Not only does an organized closet look good, it also saves time and improves efficiency. Since we typically “stash” items in closets, cleaning them out every year is a good idea. If you haven’t tackled a closet in awhile, follow these steps:
- Step stool
- A couple of empty boxes or bags
- Plastic/zip-up bags
- A trash can
- A card table or other surface for sorting
- Pen/Sharpie & post-its
EMPTY THE CONTENTS COMPLETELY
Decide in advance where you will “stage” items while you are working. If the project is large, designate a space where items can be left out overnight, such as a spare bedroom, a section of the floor, or a conference table. As you pull belongings out, group them into categories of “like” items in your staging area. For example, all dress shirts in one pile, or all pens in this corner. Small items can be grouped into the zip-up plastic storage bags.
WIPE THE SHELVES DOWN
Cleaning shelves when they are full is no fun, so take this opportunity to wipe down the surfaces, vacuum the carpet, etc.
BRING THE ITEMS TO THE SORTING SURFACE AND REVIEW
Now bring like items in small batches to your sorting surface and spread them out so you can easily see them. Decide for each item whether you wish to put it back into the closet, donate it, trash it, relocate it to another area, or put it in long term storage (e.g. a bin in the attic)
CAUTION! Don’t allow yourself to leave items sitting on the table. Make a decision and move pieces off the table. Items you have decided to shed can go into the boxes or bags you have gathered.
Now you have a good view of what you want to keep in the closet. As you reload, keep these guidelines in mind:
Put the items you need most at eye level, anything you need less frequently up high.
Never put small objects loosely onto large shelves. Use smaller containers (e.g. clear plastic bins) to contain similar smaller objects. For example, if this is a supply closet at work, have separate bins for pens, pencils, ink cartridges, etc. Or use a milk crate on a top shelf (facing forward) to hold clutch purses.
Subdivide drawers which will hold loose/small things. For instance, use shoeboxes in a drawer to segregate white socks from dark socks.
If you are working with clothing, organize by type of garment and – if you have space – by color. This makes putting outfits together easier.
Don’t be afraid to install extra shelves/rods/racks to optimize the space. The smaller the closet, the more important it is to have a good closet management system. Make the closet suit your needs. If you have no need for hanging, remove the rod and put in extra shelving.
If more than one person uses this closet, label everything. Put a label directly onto the front of a shelf or an adhesive label on a bin. If users don’t know where an item belongs, they will likely just “stick” it onto the nearest shelf.
Be creative. Have walls in your closet or the back of a door? Hang some hooks or racks. Check out The Seana Method’s Pinterest page for some visual ideas.
Limit what you keep. If – after sorting – you still have more than will fit, sort again.
When organized and maintained, a closet can improve your efficiency and protect your investment. What solutions work well in your closet?