Neatsmart Closet Makeover – Week 2 ORC

One Room ChallengeThere is a lot of work to be done here. While it’s a small closet and relatively ok in terms of organization, I have a ways to go. I started the week off on a good foot by taking the door off. And that is just part of the problem. I’ve got a door on one side that takes up a third of the space on that side of the closet, a door that goes to attic storage plus a slanted wall that means I can’t put any storage there. I’ll only have 2 walls that I can use for hanging and shelves.


Your closet should not cause you stress when you open the door. There is enough to challendge you on a daily basis that “fighting” or “fearing” my closet should not be on your radar. It seems like a simple notion but I guarantee that if your morning dressing routine is easy, the rest of your day will be better. Or put another way, if your morning routine gives you anxiety, the rest of yoru day is going to be a serious challenge.

The first task in any organization project is to get rid of what is extraneous. That could be trash, donations, or things that just don’t belong this space. So I’m asking myself these questions about each item of clothing:

  • Do I love this?
  • Do I wear it?
  • Does it suit my current lifestyle?
  • Do I need it?

If the answer is “no” to any of the above then the following questions are then asked to determine what to do with it:

  • Is there someone else who can use this?
  • Could I try to sell it?
  • Should I donate it?

This is where a lot of people lose steam and give up. Going through each item in your closet, trying them all on to see if everything fits, and then just thinking about what to do with the rejects is massively overwhelming. If this is how you feel, don’t worry. Most people do. Making decisions is hard and when you factor in an emotional attachment to clothing (I wore this on our honeymoon, I used to be this size, I was a runner at one time) it makes the purging process that much harder.

orc-2-2You have to remember that time passes and your circumstances change. For example, You may no longer be working in a corporate job so you probably don’t need as many suits anymore. Even if you go back to that type of work, those clothes may or may not fit you. Let someone else who needs them NOW use them.

Or maybe you were a smaller size a few years ago and you’ve been working on getting back to that size. Those smaller clothes are a reminder of where you are not. Let someone who is that size NOW use those clothes. When you get to that size, you can reward your efforts with a new replacement.

Another hurdle is holding on to the reminder of a previous lifestyle. Maybe you were an athlete in college, or participated in some fun activities like swing dancing or ice climbing a while back. You worked hard and should be proud of those accomplishments. But getting rid of those clothing reminders doesn’t mean you are closing the door to that time in yoru life nor does it erase the memories. Take pictures of these items or even frame them if they are so meaningful. But you can pass them on if they are no longer part of your lifestyle today. It’s ok. You’re still a rock star/ athlete!

80% of the time, you should probably just donate the item but there are cases where a relative or friend might be a good recipient for something that doesn’t suit or fit you.

Sometimes you can sell the item if it’s relatively new and not worn. You can consign at a local store or use an online service like Poshmark or ThredUp. You can also post items on Facebook selling groups to sell locally. My caveat for trying to sell is to think of the time and effort you have to put into photographing, listing or posting, and responding to inquiries. You will find that your time is much more valuable than the item you are selling. Not always, but frequently. Our perception of the value and what the market will bear can be a wide canyon.

Here’s the general plan: ELFA shelves and hanging, new light, new rug, and a place for shoes.


Once I’ve purged the excess, I can move on to the next phase: Measure. I’ll measure the height and width of the walls first to know how much space I have to put rod and drawers on the walls.

Then I have to measure how much space the various types of clothes take up. This is fun! No, seriously. I’ll measure for the following figures:

  • Short hang: shirts, skirts, pants, jackets
  • Long hang: dresses, long skirts, coats
  • Folded items: includes t-shirts, shorts, jeans, workout clothes, pajamas, underwear
  • Shoes: how much linear space do they take up
  • Other shelf requirements: purses, tote bags, hats, etc.

Purge first then figure out what you’ve got to work with. I love it!

Have you looked at the other transformations going on?  Click here to look at the others participating.

Happy organizing!

Stuff you have too much of right now

closet organization organized closet

I’ve seen it all. Everyone has too much of something in their home. Most likely it with good intention:

I might need this some day…
This was useful a while ago…
My mother always saved these…
I don’t know how to get rid of this…

But it’s not being used anymore. Technology and styles have changed. You’ve loved and used it all you can. Or maybe it never worked for you.

These things may have been useful at one point (see socks, electronics, towels) but focus on the key descriptors “no longer use” or “expired” and “broken.” These are things that no longer serve you so it’s time to let them serve someone else or be recycled. Just because you don’t need it now doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t appreciate it or find it useful.

I’m here to tell you, just get rid of it. The extra stuff you keep is overwhelming you and keeping you from progressing. And it’s taking up space in your home. That space could be used for more positive energy than duck sauce packets or grocery bags.

I challenge you to read this list and let me know what you were able to get rid of today. Enter in the comments below what you figured out you had too much of that you were able to let go. It’s ok if you sing the Frozen song while you’re doing it. 😉

Happy organizing!

Day 22: 30 Day Challenge

Day 22: Kids’ Toys, Books, & Games

Can you believe it’s day 22 already? This means I’ve gotten rid of 253 things from my house. Next Wednesday, the total will be 465. That’s what I call progress!

day 22Ok, today’s pile may not seem as applicable to any of you who haven’t had kids living with you but it’s always important to go through your books, games, and, yes, toys to determine if you (or your kids) are still using them. If there are books, games, phones, electronics, sporting goods, or tools that you’re not using and can’t imagine using again then now is the time to pass it on. You can donate these items to charity or give them to any church or school that you might need them. Check with family and friends to see if they might be interested, too.

Don’t worry about the money you’ve already spent on these items. Hopefully you used and enjoyed them and now it’s time to pass it along for someone else to enjoy.

Expired electronics like old cell phones, VCRs, and fax machines can be recycled properly by checking your county’s website. Type in your county name and “recycling” and you should get a list of locations to take just about anything you need recycled.

Happy organizing!

Day 20: 30 Day Challenge

Day 20: Paper Plates & Cups + junk

It’s Day 20 already! Can you believe it? I thought I’d be done by now but I’ve opened a cluttered closet and been able to find 20 things to discard because of the Minimalist Game pretty easily. This picture may not look impressive but it’s paper plates I’ve moved twice in the past 6 years which means I’m not going to need them! The mug and cup haven’t been touched in at least 2 years so I know I can let them go, too. They are in the “to be donated” pile.

day 20When you sit down and really think about the last time you used something, it really makes the decision to discard pretty easy. If it’s been over 2 years since you last used something, why do you think you’ll need it again?

I understand wanting to keep something because it might still be useful but let it be useful for someone else by donating it.

What you can’t see that is also included in the 20 items is a pile in the background of papers, a folded box, used (and too damaged to be reused) gift bags, and other clutter from this closet.

How are you doing with the 30 Day Challenge? Any exciting things you gotten rid of?

Don’t you feel great clearing the clutter? I feel so much more at ease knowing that the cabinet I went through yesterday and today’s closet is clear and now organized. Everything is in its place and that makes my household very happy and calm. That is 100% worth the time and effort.

Happy organizing!

Day 19: 30 Day Challenge

Day 19: Cardboard Clean Out

Oh my goodness, I never thought I had as much cardboard as I found in our house, in particular one cabinet in the kitchen. Here’s the scenario and tell me if you can relate: you get a package in the mail, open it, and say “I’ll use this box again when I have to ship something.” I understand that nobody wants to go out and buy a cardboard box to ship a package but do you really need 19 of them?

day 19
This was before I cleared out the cardboard and other packing supplies

I had boxes from packages received, appliances, and gifts plus packing materials like bubble wrap, tissue paper (remember Day 2?), cellophane wrap, and unusable paper bags. It was amazing to see how it all accumulated and how quickly.

All of it went into the recycle bin (yay!) which made getting it out of the house pretty easy.

How to handle this going forward? Keep a few boxes of different shapes, like 5, and some bubble wrap, and that’s it. Ditto for shopping bags and paper grocery bags.

day 19-2Did you know that Target and Whole Foods give you money back for bringing your own bags? Keep extras in the car so you can use them when you’re out.

Happy organizing!

Days 15, 16, & 17: 30 Day Challenge

Days 15, 16, & 17: Pens, Pencils, & Markers, oh my! Crayons, too!

You may think I’m cheating by combining 3 days into 1 but I’ve got some busy days ahead of me and wanted to plan ahead a little. I did my math and I should be discarding 48 things in the next 3 days. That’s a lot, folks; I don’t care how you slice it.

Day 15 16 17I found this container of pens, colored pencils, and markers that hasn’t been used in a really, really long time. Like never. Or maybe a couple of times over the past few years but not enough to warrant keeping it, especially since we have other markers and tools for expressing creativity in the house.

That means it’s time to give it to someone who has a more pressing need for creative, art supplies. These are the types of things that are great to give to relatives, friends, or neighbors with kids. They can also be donated.

“But, Neatsmart,what if I need this again?”

The chances that you will are slim but I always ask my clients, “what is the worse that could happen?” Are you going to have a pressing art project that will require these pencils, pens, markers, and crayons? If that were to happen, would it be a hardship to purchase some new supplies? Could you borrow them from someone else? Is there another alternative?

Sometimes you have to weigh the possibility of maybe needing something at some undetermined time in the future with the cost of of replacing. Most often the risk of getting rid of it is minor compared to the cost of replacing or borrowing it.

It cost $10 per square foot to store something in your house. Make sure it’s worthwhile stuff you’re keeping!

Happy organizing! Are you enjoying this challenge?

Day 5: 30 Day Challenge

Day 5: Random Drawer Clean Out. Tell me if you can relate to any of these scenarios.

day 5

This drawer is in a bed side table in the guest room and is rarely opened. In it was a random assortment of items that I’d forgotten about and we didn’t need any longer. Sound familiar?

DVDs: Donate. These are older and won’t interest the kids anymore. They will have zero recollection of them even being here. Off to the donation box.

Lightbulb still in case: we don’t have the lamp for which they were purchased. It’s a specific IKEA lamp so it’s getting donated, too.

Old Lightbulb without case: I think this is for an old night light that we no longer have. I don’t think it even works anymore so it gets recycled.

Old owner’s manual: we don’t have this TV anymore. Recycle the manual.

Can you relate? Have any drawers like this? So there is one drawer out of many that has been cleared out and I feel better knowing that not only are some more items being donated but also being recycled and disposed of properly.

Are you feeling better getting all of these extra things out of your house?

Happy organizing!

Day 3: 30 Day Challenge

1 Christmas tree stand, 2 pieces of tissue paper, 3 jars of paint….it’s starting to feel like the 12 Days of Christmas! Don’t think you have to get rid of 3 of the same things in one day. It just needs to be 3 things. Trust me, there will be days that I’m going to count ounces of lint or something like that. 🙂

Today’s challenge was actually easy but embarrassing to share because I’m always telling other people to clear this type of clutter. It’s old paint. We repainted our house last year after the fire and didn’t use the same colors. There is no reason to keep this paint and it’s not enough to paint another room; it was just for touch ups. Unfortunately, I can’t unscrew the tops so that I can let it dry out before tossing so I’ve put holes in the tops instead. As soon as it dries out, I can throw it away.

day 3


Is this inspiring you to join the challenge? Do you have any old paint you can get rid of, too? One benefit of working with a professional organizer is that they (ok, I :-)) can help you with suggestions of how to responsibly get rid of the clutter in your house. Paint can also be recycled and picked up if you have enough. Just type in “paint recycling” in your internet browser and you’ll find local resources, too.

Happy organizing!

Day 2: 30 Day Challenge

So this may not be very dramatic but I’ve got 29 more days for that. 🙂 Here are 2 pieces of black tissue paper that were in a package I received that I was saving to use “someday” to wrap a present. Well, I’ve decided to toss it today. Upon further examination I realized it’s too wrinkled to use to wrap a gift and I don’t need to ship anything to anyone soon. I already have a stash of bubble wrap (which I’ll probably end up reviewing this month) so there is no need to keep saving other types of packing paper.

Day 2

Here is today’s declutter lesson: it’s ok to save bags, paper, cardboard boxes, etc. but when it gets excessive, stop!

Set aside a certain area (shelf, cabinet, box)  for these items and when it’s full, it’s time to discard the excess. That way your home doesn’t get over run with bags, paper, cardboard boxes, etc.

So are you participating in the 30 day challenge? I’d love to hear what you’re getting rid of today in the comments below. You can see by this example it doesn’t have to be something radical. Just starting is great progress!

Happy organizing!

July Declutter Challenge

So here is a fun game I want to play and I hope you’ll join me. You may start to think that Professional Organizers have a really strange notion of what’s fun. It’s called the Minimalism Game and it’s really easy to play:

For the month of July, you’ll give away, donate, throw away, recycle, or basically remove from your home items every day.

What makes it super fun (or super crazy) is that you take out 1 thing on day 1, 2 things on day 2, 3 things on day 3, and so forth. I’ll admit I’m a little nervous about getting into the double digits so I may have to get a little creative.

So where did I find this awesome game/ challenge? From The Minimalists, of course. Does this mean I’m going to be a minimalist and live in a yurt with spartan furnishings? Um, no. You can look at their website to find their definition of minimalism but for me it’s all about living in a home that is full of things that I love, support me, are useful, and that I find beautiful. It’s about getting rid of excess so I can think clearly.

Will you join me in this super exciting game? I’m a little giddy about it all but I’m going to count on you to help me with my motivation. I will post photos each day of what I’m getting rid of and letting you know whether it’s trash, donation, giving to a friend, etc.

So here is Day 1:  old Christmas tree stand. It doesn’t work well and I bought a new one after this past Christmas. Sadly, it has been sitting in the garage since January and needs to go. Here is to a good start!

Day 1


Happy organizing!