Beth and Cheryl, the founders of Edit My Closet, have been providing their customers with emotional support while physically assisting in de-cluttering, organizing, and removing no longer needed/wanted items, for over five years. Their background in Social Work enables them to read body language, validate experiences, and be conscious of the emotional charge associated with de-cluttering. Beth and Cheryl both live in Toronto and have sparkling closets.
Dollar stores, leisure time, "I deserve it" upgrades, larger living space, disposable incomes, "just in case" mentality (holding on to things, physically or otherwise, out of fear one will never have access to them again), and shopping as a form of self-medication have all played an integral role in producing the cultural epidemic known as clutter.
Clutter is defined as "a confused or disordered state or collection". It's not difficult to be confused or disordered when we have an abundance of meaningless, useless objects surrounding us. This state can easily lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and out of control. This is why the process of de-cluttering (carving out time to consciously go through your stuff and discard items that are no longer useful) is considered therapeutic.
The process of letting things go and saying goodbye can be a difficult and emotionally charged experience. Our consumption and "holding-on" patterns are brought into awareness as we move through this process. The typical result, however, is one of liberation and clarity, especially when the process is executed in an environmentally conscious and sustainable way.
We provide our customers with five steps to make the de-cluttering process easier:
- Identify a cluttered space that requires organization. Easy!
- Establish expectations. Is there a specific vision for the space, i.e. easier access to items hanging in a closet, or wanting a drawer to close? Be clear around the intentions; writing them down helps significantly.
- Compartmentalize and assess! Empty all of the items from the space and sort them into smaller, categorized piles. For example, when organizing an office you may have a stationery pile, an electronics pile, a decorative pile, etc.
- Create 3 separate piles labelled Toss, Maybe, and Keep. Baskets or bins can be used in lieu of piles.
- Go through each item piece by piece and ask: Is this essential? What’s its purpose? Has it been used in the past six months? Could someone else benefit from the item? Taking pictures of items that evoke sentimentality is a great way to "hold on" without compromising storage space.
- Look at the empty space and think back to your vision. Are you missing anything? Would additional storage solutions help? Are there things in the “Keep” pile that actually belong in another room or area? If yes, where?
- Further compartmentalize items in the "Toss" pile to Recycle, Donate, Return, and Give-Away piles. Take the time to donate items to shelters, libraries, and second hand stores that rely heavily on donations to serve the community effectively. Donate/recycle as quickly as possible to avoid rooting through the bags and reclaiming items.
- Clean the area before putting the items back. De-cluttering is the perfect time to pull out the vacuum and make use of all of your favourite natural cleaning products. Miss Charlotte over at Les Bonnes Idees provides a recipe to make your own! Click here to view it.
We'd like to leave you with one last tip: de-cluttering is most often performed in the spring, as it is widely associated (for good reason) with new beginnings. However, we encourage you to try de-cluttering one space per month. Tackling areas in small steps like this is less overwhelming than a big once a year job and will certainly have a big impact over time. Good luck!
For more information about Edit My Closet, please check out our website or contact us at info(at)editmycloset.com.
Photo of cluttered room used under Creative Commons from Christopher Gollmar (flickr).
No clutter logo used under Creative Commons from Sean MacEntee (flickr).
Photo of homemade natural cleaning products used under Creative Commons from Mrs. Green (flickr).