This month, we’re organizing your closet! Last week I wrote about how to find your closet style, because defining a goal is the first step toward achieving a goal. But whether you go for minimalism, coziness, or a total glam closet, you’ll need space to achieve it. The best way to make space is to declutter your closet!
When I work with clients, I use the acronym TRACKS to sort and pare it down to the essentials, and you can use it on your own, too.
TRACKS stands for Trash, Recycle, Action, Charity, Keep, and Sell. When I’m decluttering with someone, we go through each item and ask which of these categories it belongs in. Sorting everything into these categories is a big step towards a neat closet!
It’s the first letter of the acronym, but it’s really the last resort. Only send a piece of clothing to the landfill if it doesn’t fit in any other category.
Recycling clothes usually takes the form of donation, but you CAN reuse material in other ways if the garment is no longer wearable. Here’s a neat video about how to make t-shirt yarn! You can also cut garments into rags and use them to clean up around the house.
How do you leave the house in the morning? Are you calm? Are you able to quickly pick up the things you need as you go out the door? Or do you run around, frantically trying to remember where you put your keys last night and forgetting your lunch on the kitchen counter?
If you have children, or need to coordinate with other people leaving the house, the difficulties are multiplied, sometimes exponentially!
So what can help you get out the door with the minimum of fuss and maximum of efficiency? I heard of one woman who was able to get her and her children out the door in 25 minutes in the morning – that’s efficiency. I confess, I like to have more time in the morning to do a few things around the house before I leave.
So what do you need to do to make your morning routine easier on yourself? Ask yourself what it would be like to leave calmly. What sorts of things would you do? How much time do you need to leave for various tasks? What things could you do ahead of time?
Here are some ideas if you are stuck.
The Night Before
Set out clothes, including ironing them if necessary
Prepare lunches, or at least gather together any uncut items – whole fruit, carrot sticks, cheese sticks, crackers, etc. – and put them in their containers or baggies.
Gather any items you will need for the next day- homework, permission slips, items for running errands, meeting materials, etc. – and put them in your bag/briefcase near the door.
I’ve written before about the best way to keep your digital files organized. Today I’d like to go a little deeper into one of those topics: using search to find files on your computer!
It’s important to keep your digital files organized in a folder/subfolder system! However, the old method of clicking through those files to find what you need is outdated. Keeping your files organized saves space on your hard drive and makes all methods of file retrieval easier, but using your computer’s built-in search function is now faster than the point-and-click route. Here are my best practices for using search to find what you need quickly and efficiently.
How to Use Search
Mac and Windows each have their own built-in search functions, and they operate in similar ways. Much like an internet search engine, you type your keywords into a search bar to find what you’re looking for.
On Mac, the global search function is called Spotlight Search. You can also look for files directly in the Finder system. To open up the Spotlight, click the Spotlight icon, or press Command + Space. Then enter your keywords to search. For some more information on how to use Mac’s Spotlight Search, click here.
Windows has its own search in the task bar, or you can press Windows + S, and enter your keywords from there. More instructions on using it can be found here.
A neat garage that’s crawling with pests is not a neat garage at all! And if you store your stuff neatly but improperly, you could face a disaster. Avoid garage organizing mistakes and keep these items safely indoors.
Things that are affected by extreme heat, cold, or humidity belong inside your home, or in a climate-controlled storage unit. These include:
Important documents. Don’t lose your marriage certificate (or your rare vintage Pokémon cards) to water damage. High humidity or floods can render valuable items useless.
Photos. Heat and damp can cause them to fade prematurely.
Vinyl records, which can warp at high temperatures.
Wine, which needs a consistent temperature.
Delicate clothing that can mold and rot.
Paintings, which don’t do well in fluctuating temperatures.
When I covered paper filing in the past, one of my top tips was, “The best way to keep track of paperwork is to make sure it never arrives in the first place!” But what about digital organizing?
Go digital when you can. Not only does it reduce paperwork that takes up physical space in your home, it reduces paper usage in general. Good stuff! At Organize to Excel, we aim to eliminate waste and help the environment wherever possible.
If (when!) you follow my advice about paperwork, you’ll end up with more digital files than paper ones. But if you don’t have a filing system in place on your computer, you’re just swapping paper clutter for digital clutter.
Here are my top 4 tips for digital organizing, keeping your computer files as neat and tidy as your physical ones.
1. Mimic Real Life
Would you throw your mail on the floor as soon as you brought it in the house? Do you file everything as “Important”? If you do, give us a call and we can help you straighten that out!
It doesn’t make sense to do these things, because all you’d get is a big pile of mail on your floor, and tons of time wasted spent searching for that one bill you kinda remember being in this pile…or is it this pile? Eek!
Physical clutter is more obvious than digital clutter because it’s in the way when you try to eat dinner at the table, or a tripping hazard in your hallway. And, you have to physically go through items one at a time. But digital clutter is real, and it’s costing you time and money you don’t need to spend.
Imagine your computer is a tiny filing cabinet. It needs labels, folders, and subfolders. It needs an internal logic, so the folders and subfolders are useful. If you think about digital files like they’re paper, it only makes sense to put them in some sort of order.
You’ve discovered your unique rules for what stays and what goes in your home, you’ve used one of last week’s techniques to jump-start your decluttering, and now you have a big pile of things to get rid of! But unless you have a plan for what to do with them, you’ll either have a junk pile that hangs around, or send things to the landfill.
Trash is always a last resort for unwanted objects. Before you toss things in the garbage, see if your clutter falls into any of these categories.
Why not? One woman made more than $30,000 selling things she no longer wanted on her minimalist journey! I don’t expect you to sell everything you own, but if you’re not going to use that ice cream maker anymore, sell it. Listing something on eBay or Facebook Marketplace doesn’t take more than a few minutes, and can get your item to someone who needs it (while adding a few bucks to your bank account).