Years ago, a change of seasons was a fraught time for me. Excited as I was about the warmer or cooler weather ahead, I dreaded the looming Big Closet Switch.
It was a messy, days-long chore. It always looked worse before it got better: clothes spread all over the room; keep/donate/does-it-still-fit piles everywhere; last-season’s clothes needing to be washed before being binned; next-season’s clothes needing to be ironed (nooooo!) after getting crumpled in bins.
The problem is, I really love the change of seasons. It’s fun when you first pull on a cozy sweater in the fall or head out the door in only a light jacket in the spring. But the way I had organized my closet was turning the change of seasons from a fun celebration into a dreaded chore.
How did I free myself? I discovered the Year-Round Closet.
Ever had this maddening experience?
You step outside and see your breath for the first time in the season. Yay, it’s sweater season! You run up to your closet and reach for that favorite sweater that’s been tucked away since spring. Eager to feel the comforting hug of snuggly wool (or maybe luxurious cashmere) on your arms, you pull the sweater over your head.
But, wait, what’s that? Is that a little piece of lint? No! It’s a hole! And there’s another! Nooooo!!! Moths have feasted on -- and ruined -- your favorite sweater.
Last week, a friend of mine and her son were flying out of town for a 3-week trip that required them to pack for two different seasons. The bad news is that their plane was delayed by 12 hours. All the passengers had to deplane and wait it out in the airport, leaving their luggage behind and taking only their carry-on items with them. The good news is that my friend and her son had packed everything they needed for this big trip in their carry-on bags, so they sailed off the plane with all of their belongings in tow!
My family and I always travel only with carry-on bags. I love the secure feeling of knowing that my possessions are under my control at all times. It’s freeing to travel light and not be burdened with so many items to keep track of during the trip and re-pack when heading home.
Many of you may know Gretchen Rubin who gave a “bonus keynote” address at the conference. She has some interesting ideas about personality types, but my favorite takeaway from her talk was about how we can declutter our clothes.
If you have trouble deciding whether or not to keep an article of clothing, see if it passes the “Ex-Factor” test. Imagine you are wearing that faded, tattered sweatshirt and you run into your ex. Would you be happy to be wearing that?
Gretchen’s other insight about paring down clothes is that she noticed that people actually feel they have more to wear after getting rid of excess clothes. It sounds counterintuitive, but I experience this with my clients all the time. Once you weed out the excess, you feel more satisfied with what you have and experience a feeling of increased abundance.
Check out the first in my 4-part Spring Cleaning series with NBC10's Emily Volz.
In the first video, I talk about switching your coat closet from fall/winter to spring/summer.
Here in New England, many of us have older homes with small coat closets or mudrooms. So instead of trying to squeeze all the coats into the closet, we have to make some adjustments and put at least the bulkier coats away for the warm seasons.
Before putting coats away, be sure to follow these steps:
Once the bulky coats have been put away, use a small vacuum to clean the closet and wipe the shelves to get rid of the dust.
Now you're ready to stock the closet for spring and summer. Replace the heavy coats with light jackets, windbreakers, and raincoats. Hang summer caps and hats on hooks attached to the closet doors or along the side walls.
Because my spring jackets take up only about half the space of the winter coats, I have room to add a storage bin unit to my closet in the warm season.
As you can see in the photo, each of my two daughters has a drawer for her bathing suits and flip flops. One shelf has the sunblock container along with another container for goggles and a water-resistant zippered case to take along to the beach. The rest of the shelves are stocked with towels, which I roll to make them tidy and easy to grab.
At the bottom of the closet, I keep a first aid kit and two picnic blankets handy.
Now you're organized and ready at a moment's notice to enjoy the warm weather and be outdoors this spring and summer!
I know lots of organized people who have various strategies for keeping up with laundry, but the one thing they all have in common is that they don’t let it sit around. Once the dryer cycle is done, they fold it and put it away all in a single session.
You know how work swells to fit the time you give it but if you give yourself a deadline you manage to get it done faster? It’s the same with laundry. Give yourself a deadline (try using a timer or stopwatch) and plan your time so that you’ll be able to put it all away in the same day that it comes out of the dryer. Otherwise, you’ll wind up with piles of laundry sitting around your folding area for days!
Here are some strategies:
Apply one of these strategies and stick with it for at least a month to give it time to become a new habit.
Banish those piles of clothes!
P.S. If putting clothes away is a bigger problem for you than getting them washed, then you won't want to miss my next post!
Here in New England, the weather is starting to change from summer to fall (even though Thursday's forecast is 78 degrees!). One quick thing to take care of right now is to put away the summer sunblock, bug spray, and other summer cosmetics.
Round up the all the sunblocks in the house and check them all, tossing any that are nearly gone, nearly expired (or will be by next summer), or just gross from beach sand and grime.
Do the same with the bug sprays. While you're at it, test the sprayers and toss any that are malfunctioning (sprays a little trickle or has to be pumped 10 times before it will spray).
Gather any other summer cosmetics such as those bottles of ear drying liquid, mosquito bite spray, aloe vera, etc. Check these too to make sure they are full-ish, not expired, and in good condition.
Put everything worth keeping into gallon-size plastic freezer bags. If you don't have much, put it all in one bag. If you have a lot, sort it by type and use one bag per type. Store the bags near your summer accessories (beach towels, bathing suits) or near your luggage so it'll be handy when you pack for that beach vacation you're taking this winter. (You're taking me with you, right?)
Wandering through Ocean State Job Lot today (a favorite store, but beware because it can be tempting to over-buy) I spotted this: my favorite kind of jewelry organizer!
This is very similar to the organizer I use for my costume/everyday jewelry, but at half the price I paid.
It can either stand on the floor or be hung on a wall or on the back of a closet door, as I have mine.
What I love about this organizer, is that I can see all of my jewelry at a glance. No need to open multiple drawers or boxes.
So, if you're in need of a better storage solution for your jewelry, hustle on down to your nearest Ocean State Job Lot and see if they still have these in stock!
The weather here in New England is finally warmer, which means it’s time for the winter-to-summer wardrobe switch! Even if you took my advice (see my 9/23/16 post) and set yourself up with a year-round closet that doesn’t require the semi-annual switch, it’s still a good idea to check your wardrobe a couple of times a year to weed out old items and keep your clothes in good condition.
This year, find some inspiration and motivation from this vintage WWII postcard that I found at the Churchill War Rooms on a recent trip to London.
In those days, people were trying to conserve all the resources they could for the war effort. Today, we have an interest in being thrifty and conserving for financial and environmental reasons.
As you go through your wardrobe, look at each item and consider:
Although this sounds time consuming, make it a game to see how quickly you can accomplish this wardrobe pruning. If you’re having too much trouble deciding on an item, it’s OK to keep it for now and see if you wear it this season. Try the trick of putting the hanger backwards on the rod or putting a folded item backwards in the drawer or shelf. In the fall, when you go through your items again, you’ll know if you haven’t used it because it will still be backwards. It might be easier to part with it then.
Here are three options for what to do with the clothes you edit out of your wardrobe:
1. Consign them: This option is only for in-season designer clothes in excellent condition. Resale shops are picky!
2. Donate them: Find your favorite spot (donation box or thrift store drop-off) near you and take the clothes there right away.
3. Recycle them: This comes from my very first Tip of the Week back on 9/12. For those really tattered or stained items, H&M stores offer fiber recycling drop-off bins and they even give you a coupon for a percentage off your next purchase.
Finally, focus on the clothes you really enjoy wearing. If you “make do and mend” these beloved clothes, they’ll serve you for a long time.