home, life, minimalism, organization

5 Habits for Keeping An Organized Closet

It seems that some methods of organization are a waste of time.

I recently found out that organizing email may be no more effective than using the search function.  I saw another study in The New York Times that argued that messiness has more to do with spatial awareness than intelligence, and it actually doesn’t preclude productivity.

I often find myself going through my closets.  They never seem to stay clean.

I’m sure I’m not alone on this.

Perhaps the problem isn’t that I don’t know how to organize, but rather, I have so many things to organize that the important stuff gets obscured by the things I don’t need.

Here’s the cycle I go through:

  1. Buy something
  2. Store it
  3. Realize that said storage is full of things I don’t need or want
  4. Keep, dispose, donate, or sell items I don’t use
  5. Buy organization items to keep the storage area looking better
  6. Realize that I buy many things I don’t need or use
  7. Feel guilty until next purchase
  8. Repeat

Most of my issues lay in step #6:  Realizing I buy many things I don’t need or use.

The simple answer for me should be to stop buying things.  When I stop consuming, it’s good for my wallet, environment, and need to simplify.

If only it were that easy.  My spending is often on a yo-yo diet.  One day, I’ll be conscious of my spending.  The next day, I’ll wonder if my fifteen year old sandals should be replaced and I’ll feel guilty for replacing them because I’m spending money.

I went through my closet on Saturday.  Here is my new plan:

  1. Use Less Space for Storage

    In my original post about the walk-in, I mentioned my closet had two rods, two baskets, two shelves, a storage unit, and a hanging organizer with many drawers.

    Everything was sort of empty.  Once I got rid of the non-clothing-related stuff, there was a lot of space.

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    I learned that as my area for storing items grew, my clothing collection spread out in different directions around the closet.

    Solution:  I removed the hanging organizer and moved all the clothes to one side of the closet.

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    Much better!

  2. Keep Everything In Its Place

    I’ve mentioned before that of my favourite quotes is by Benjamin Franklin.  It goes, “A place for everything, everything in its place.”

    I have a quick story to share before I go any further.

    I once took our label maker and labelled every shelf on the pantry with which contents should go on the shelf.  When we had an item that fit in more than one category, the Mr. would jokingly fuss about which shelf it actually belonged on.

    I didn’t do that this time.

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    Solution:  I put my pajamas in the basket and only in the basket.  The dresses and blouses were hung.  The t-shirts were folded.  The athletic/lounge wear had its own shelf behind closed doors.  If I had the true zest for minimalism, I’d probably be doing the Kondo way of rolling them.

  3. Only Buy/Keep Clothes That Are Comfortable

    I often found myself buying blouses and dress pants for work because the attire at work is business casual.

    That seemed like a good enough reason.  Besides, it looked good, and I made the looking good = feeling good connection in my head.

    The problem is that I never wore much of my business casual stuff.  I would wear the items a few times before realizing that they weren’t comfortable for working in.  The clothes would end up staying on their hangers, and I’d avoid picking them because I knew it wasn’t worth it.

    Solution:  I stopped fighting it.  I started to only pick comfortable and appropriate items to wear.  I could dress up comfortable dress pants with cardigans and simple accessories.

  4. Only Keep Quality Clothes

    The first thing I usually check when I buy clothes is the material.  Thanks, mom.

    A lot of clothes these days are made from cheap materials and synthetics.  Sometimes, items with some of these materials are in the ones I buy.  I feel sad when they pill and wear out fast.

    I feel guilt for leaving clothes unworn, but I have a stronger dislike of throwing out clothes because they look worn.

    Solution:  I’m going to choose quality by buying less synthetically made clothing because it means less waste for everyone.

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  5. I asked myself, “How Much Is Too Much?

    My closet began to feel full with so many things in it.  I was having a hard time picking out the items I wanted with so much visual clutter.  In the past, I’ve maintained a 35-piece (or so) rule.  I may have let that one slide in recent months.

    Many capsule wardrobe/project 333 websites estimate that the number of clothes one should own is around 35.

    You could also do a uniform wardrobe if you’re feeling ultra minimalist.

    Solution:  I’m going to stay around the 35 pieces-of-clothing mark.  I like that it gives me less choice for colour coordination, and it makes me donate clothes once I get new ones.

    I’ve never tried it before, but I’ve heard of others taking one piece of clothing out for each new one they put in.

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    Which habits do you practice to keep an organized closet?

    Note:  This post contains links to external websites.  

9 thoughts on “5 Habits for Keeping An Organized Closet

  1. Wow, 35 pieces of clothing? I think I have that in one drawer! I have a shelving unit similar to yours but I put it in the middle of my closet and then put dresses, skirts and coats on one side and pants, sweaters and tops on the other. On the shelves I have baskets for my socks, belts and purses, scarves. My shoes are on the floor. My husband has a closet as well with two rods, one above the other. He organizes (?) his own clothes. I also have a built in set of drawers that hold my under clothes, “comfy” pants, tank tops, t-shirts and long sleeved shirts. Every once in a while I go through everything and get rid of stuff I haven’t worn in a while, but no where near down to 35 pieces!

    1. Yes! I thought 35 was crazy too. It turns out I only wear the same few shirts week in and week out. My little secret is that I have a winter wardrobe of 35 pieces as well, but perhaps a little less. That’s a lot of storage space! The great thing is that it sounds like it works out well for you, and you’re not constantly reorganizing or donating. Does your husband have his own style and system of organizing? We have a chair in the corner that has morphed into an extension of the dresser.

      1. No, he doesn’t have a system of organizing really. Every once in a while he goes through his things and gets rid of stuff he no longer wears. We have some hooks behind our bedroom door that we use for bathrobes and he sometimes hangs his pants there between wearings.

    1. Thank you! That sounds like a great time to declutter. Someone once told me they couldn’t do it with kids around, or every lone sock and toy with a missing piece would be kept forever. Have you tried with her, or not yet?

      1. Haha- my son has a hard time parting with stuff (I am the same way, getting a little better as I get older.) My daughter is two and doesn’t sit still for a minute. It’s hard to accomplish much when she’s awake. Lol

  2. Good stuff! Definitely need to de-clutter my wardrobe as it’s so jam-packed now! Definitely would be up for investing clothing pieces rather than bulk buying because it’s on “sale”.

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