What if I looked in your closets right now? What would I find? Would I see a nice organized closet with just the things you love and use? Or would I find a closet packed full of stuff that hasn’t been used in a year or two? Don’t feel guilty if your closets resemble the packed closet more than the organized one. Hidden clutter is hard to tackle. It’s out of sight and out of mind.
My Hidden Clutter
I’m guilty of two kinds of hidden clutter, closet clutter, and paper clutter. I put items away into a closet or a drawer with the intention of getting back to them. I just know when I tuck them away safely I’ll need them someday, I really will. Then in a year or two or three, when those hidden areas just can’t hold anymore, I relent and go through them. Only to find the things that seemed so important have been unloved and unneeded all that time. It’s sad to think of all those things in the closet shelves just waiting for the day it will be useful again.
I’ve made great progress in my battle with paper clutter. I no longer let it sit around and grow old and yellow as I once did. Most of the paper clutter no longer even gets into my home. All those flyers of great buys beckoning me to buy, go directly into the recycling bin and in the garage. The empty envelopes from the bills that we received no longer line the counter with the bills tucked inside. Those envelopes are immediately recycled too. Never to darken the halls of my home.
It wasn’t always like this with paper clutter. I used to bring it in and welcome it on my counter and in the drawers. I knew I would get to it someday. But someday just didn’t come. I think it all started when I was young and I kept all of the school papers knowing someday I would look through them again. Then when it came time to clear out my parents house, I was met by the huge boxes of my childhood school papers. I looked through a few, couldn’t believe I had saved all of them and off to the recycling they went. I didn’t even feel bad, I felt free. That marked my slow and steady quest to rid myself of paper clutter.
So now you know my hidden clutter secret. The clutter that still plagues me from time to time. Maybe you’re a little like me and have hidden clutter of your own in drawers and closets that no one sees. The type of clutter that is out of sight and out of mind until it comes cascading out of a drawer or closet when you open them.
Clear out Your Closets
Go to a closet that needs to be de-cluttered and look into it. Look at all those items just sitting and wasting away not being used. They are taking valuable space in your home, space that could be used for useful things. Don’t dwell on how disorganized or cluttered the closet is, that will be a waste of energy. Use that energy to actually clean it up and clear it out.
Take everything out of your closet and set it out into the room. Now that the items are out into the room you’ll be able to look them over better. First I want you to pick out the items you use often. The things you have used recently or if it’s a seasonal item, the seasonal items you used the in the last season they were designed for.
Find places in the closet for all of those items. Now look over the items you have left. Is there anything that brings you joy or items you really love. If there is be sure to find a spot for them in the closet.
Now is where the hard part starts. Look over what is left. Is there anything you know you won’t use? Sort the items that are the wrong size or the wrong style. Find the items that have been in the closet so long you didn’t even know you still had them. Decide which items need to be thrown away and put them in the trash. Decide which items are in good shape and put then into a box to donate or if you think you might want to sell the item, place it in a box marked sell. Lastly, if there is something that isn’t good enough to donate or sell but could be recycled place it in a box to recycle.
If there is anything you feel you need to keep, but you don’t really love or really need place it in a box with a question mark on it. Seal it up and place it into storage. Over the next 30 days, they will be available to be retrieved. If you don’t use them in the next 30 days, let them go. Repeat this process for each and every one of your closets.
Organize as You Go Through Your Closets
You might want to organize your closets as you de-clutter. I used this technique to declutter our coat closet two years ago and I organized as I purged. I purchased a few plastic boxes for our shoes to keep them organized. I set up a system to keep our hats and gloves in one spot and easy to find. I also cleared off the shelves in the coat closet of all items except for those we used regularly.
Since I set up a system to keep all of our items in that closet in their place, I haven’t had to do much more than shift things for the next season. It keeps itself organized as long as we all use the system to keep it organized. I used to have to, at least once a month, clean up that closet because everything was a mess, now it keeps itself up. Well almost by itself.
Conquering Paper Clutter
In an age when we use so many digital products, I find we still have quite a bit of paper clutter. There are ways to cut down on the paper clutter that comes to your home. You can ask to be removed from mailing lists. You can start paying bills online. All of this will reduce paper clutter, but there will still be a little. Having a system in place to handle it can keep it under control.
First set up a way to keep it out of the house. I have a recycling box in our garage and each day as I bring in the mail if I find anything we don’t need I’ll recycle it right away. Only the things we truly need come into the house. I even open the mail in the garage and immediately recycle the outer envelopes and any flyers stuck inside that we don’t really need. These few steps have helped to keep a lot of the paper clutter out of our home.
We homeschool so we end up with lots of paper clutter for school work. To keep our paperwork down to a reasonable amount, we use a white board or cheap inexpensive notebooks. For everyday practice, the whiteboards work great. For things we might want to refer to later, we will use a small inexpensive notebook that can be recycled when we are finally done with them.
My kids also love to create, but their creations often result in a lot of loose bits of paper in the house. Or creations that were so important one day can be crammed into a drawer never to see the light of day. We regularly go through shelves and drawers to remove any paper creations that don’t need to be saved. If it’s something one of my children really wants to keep we have one binder to place keepsake items in. Having a keepsake place seems to work really well in our home. The keepsake papers could also be scanned and saved as a digital image to look at later.
I also regularly go through my receipts that I’ve kept in case something needs to be returned. I go through them about two to three times a year and if any of the return dates has passed, they get recycled. The only receipts I save long term are for items that have long-term warranties.
Pick a closet or a pile of paper and see if you can clear out all of the clutter. If a closet is too big to take it all on at one time pick a shelf. A little progress is better than none at all. Once you have a closet clean, be sure to set up a storage system to keep each item in its place, so it stays organized all on its own with very little effort from you.
Set up a system to deal with the different types of paper clutter that are making its way into your house. Try to set up a way to keep it out of the house altogether. Or if you can’t keep it out, set up a box or basket that you can store it in until you can deal with it each week. When you have a system to keep paper clutter down less and less will end up in the drawers and on the counters of your home.
What area do you find hidden clutter in the most? Mine is definitely the closets, but I’m working on them and soon I hope to have all of them clutter free.
Did you find this helpful? If you did, I would love to have you share it with your friends. Thanks for helping get the word out on ways to tackle hidden clutter with other. I do appreciate it.