How to Organize Your Closet to Reduce Stress

Picture this. . .you desperately need to find one item in a closet jam packed with coats, games, gloves, hats, a vacuum cleaner, and yard flags. Would you be inclined to shut the door and forget the urgency of your quest? Closets become physical nightmares when they’re arranged with the “just throw it in the closet” technique. Is it any wonder that many closets are a variant of the one described above?

What many people don’t know is that a packed closet adds stress to their life. Feng shui teaches that everything in a space is alive with energy, positive or negative. Everything! Individual items in a closet may have good energy because of their quality, their usefulness, or their associations, but when many items are packed in so tight that it’s hard to access any one particular item, the closet as a whole takes on a stressful negative energy. It’s hard to get anything in or out of the closet without creating a mess. Just opening the door is stressful!

What’s the best way to organize a closet? First decide the categories of items that belong in the closet. For example, a closet near the front door usually holds coats and other clothing to protect against the whether. It may hold decorative items for the front door, like flags. It could also house the vacuum cleaner. Three categories: outdoor clothing, outdoor decorative items and the vacuum cleaner.

Second, pull things out of the closet that don’t fit the categories you’ve identified. Put them to the side to be addressed when the closet is done. Notice that it’s not recommended that you immediately put those things somewhere else. You run the risk of getting sidetracked and not returning to finish organizing the closet. Also, it is not necessary to completely empty a closet in order to organize it. You will save significant time if you organize the items without taking all of them out.

Next, evaluate the items that do fit the identified categories to see if they are all of high value, worthy of taking up space in the limited confines of the closet. Ask yourself, “Do I love it? Do I use it?” Items that you love for their usefulness, their aesthetics, or their association, are keepers. So are items you use at least once a year. When you love an item or use it once a year, there’s a good chance that it has positive energy. Items that aren’t either loved or used are good candidates for pitching. They are taking up prime real estate and are likely to have a stressful negative energy.

Third, devise ways to keep the different categories of items separate and clearly visible. This usually involves using containers or building shelves and compartments with a company like California Closets or the Closet Factory. In the closet described above, adding separate bins for hats, gloves, scarves and flags is helpful. The idea is to keep items in one category together yet separated from other categories of items. You run into closet chaos when different types of items are thrown together with no clumping into categories and no visible boundaries between categories.

The larger the closet, the more complicated the organizing challenge because there are likely to be more categories of items to consider. A good rule of thumb for organizing any space is to make sure to place items that are used most frequently in the most convenient locations, no higher than your shoulders and no lower than your hips.

Harlan Brubaker, closet designer with California Closets, reports that, “There are shoe collectors out there for whom 60 pairs is the norm. However, there usually are 12-20 pairs that are used regularly. I try to put them in a high visibility area. The rest go high or low in the closet, preferably in boxes to keep them from getting dusty.” While it would be optimal to have all those shoes stored in one location, all fully visible, it is often not possible.

So, tackle a closet using this four step process.

1. Decide the categories.
2. Remove items that don’t fit the categories.
3. Evaluate and keep only the best items that do fit the categories.
4. Use containers to keep categories separate.

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