You don’t need to wait for spring to clean, declutter, and organize your living (or cooking or sleeping or closet) space. But for some, the idea of spending an entire weekend sifting through piles and KonMari-ing every item can be a bit overwhelming. Never fear; there are shortcuts to decluttering. While some can take just a few minutes and have a major impact, others involve strategically breaking down big projects into more manageable portions. (That’s a tricky way of saying that you still have to do the hard work—it’s just not all at once.) Organizing and efficiency expert Jeffrey Phillip points out that a deep dive is best: “removing everything and then being forced to look at it all and touch it all definitely helps the editing process and forces us to make harder and better decisions.” But if a two-day pursuit isn’t possible right now, plenty of progress can be made with some planning and a list of smaller tasks.
“If you don’t have time for a deep-dive, I definitely recommend breaking the project down into sections and tackling it bit-by-bit,” says Phillip. Focus on specific types of garments, one at a time. “If things aren’t organized by category yet, that’s okay. Just hunt through your closet to gather all the like items and then get to work editing them.” If digging into small decluttering projects still seems a bit daunting, you’re not alone. It can be hard to make decisions in a bubble, so Lisa Adams of LA Closet Design recommends making it a social affair. “Two heads are always better than one when it comes to a closet purge, plus it can cut your project in half.” Invite over a friend (or two) and make a night of it—just don’t forget the drinks and snacks.
Once you’ve made your edits and worked your way through the entire closet, the way you’re storing your clothes is the next area to focus on. Phillip insists that organizing by category (sweaters, pants, shirts, etc.) is essential, “then within that category, organize by type and color.” Be thoughtful about where you place your clothes as well—items you wear the most frequently should be at eye level (that shelf of favorite tees, for example) and reserve higher shelves for seasonal storage or items like handbags that you’ll be able to easily see. With hanging items, if you have a tall closet and two levels of hanging bars, it might be best to (rather counter-intuitively) hang your pants on top and your tops on the bottom so they’re closer to eye-level.
There are also some smaller things you can do to make a big visual impact:
“Use hooks to hang bags on the back of the closet door so you can store shoes (left shoe faces heal out, right shoe faces heal in) and create a bit more space,” says Phillip.
Stock up on drawer inserts: “These are a great way to ensure everything has a place. Inserts can be customized to store everything from jewelry/accessories to makeup and electronics, quickly streamlining your morning routine.”
Keep your hangers consistent: Both Adams and Phillip swear by the magic of uniform hangers. “This is one of the easiest ways to clean up the look of your closet for a more custom appearance, and will immediately upgrade your wardrobe.”
Upgrade your lighting: “I always say: ‘If you can’t see it, you won’t wear it,’” says Adams. “It is so important to see everything you have, to make the dressing process as efficient and enjoyable as possible.” Installing lighted hanging rods and illuminated drawers will truly make you feel like you’re shopping in your own closet.