Every spring I evaluate my closet, but tend to delay or organize only part of it. Finally, I’m making the commitment to declutter. Dr. Margarita Cossuto, owner of Living Organized in Norwalk, explains that clutter can be physically and emotionally draining.
“Clutter simply takes up your energy and negatively impacts many areas of your life,” Cossuto explains.
The first step in decluttering is putting like things together. When sorting, ask yourself why you should keep the item. If it serves a purpose and you like the item, keep it.
“Because items trigger memories, and our memories trigger feelings, it can be difficult to let go,” Cossuto says. “Figure out how the item makes you feel — if the feeling is positive, keep the item, and if the feeling is negative, let go of it.”
At the beginning of every season, remove out-of-season clothes from your closet. Cossuto suggests hanging in-season clothes in your closet so the hanger’s opening faces you. Once worn, return the item with the hanger facing away from you. Seasonally, you can make appropriate decisions on what you didn’t wear.
In addition to organizing by season, organize by function. “Keep your work clothes together. When you’re deciding on what to wear you only see the clothes you would wear to work, which saves you time in the end,” Cossuto advises.
Amy Van Arsdale, a yoga teacher and owner of Clearedspaces.com in Westport, knows balance. “I think of myself as a clutter buster,” Van Arsdale explains. “I declutter minds and bodies with yoga while clearing clutter in my clients’ homes. Making space in your life is a good thing. If your home is clear of unwanted clutter, your mind feels clear.”
People declutter for a myriad of reasons: to stop feeling overwhelmed, to gain control, to reduce stress, and to let go of the past. Taking that first step is difficult, but understanding that less stuff can mean freedom can be empowering.
“No matter the reason, keeping those items in the back of your closet or clogging up the garage will not help you feel better — most likely it will have the reverse effect,” says Van Arsdale. “The main rule is ‘what your space will allow.’ Clutter occurs when folks pack areas with items that either do not belong there or that are not needed or being used.”
Once your house is decluttered, the best way to keep it organized is by placing items where they belong. An organized home may be untidy, but everything has a place, according to Van Arsdale: “Like items should be stored together in the right room. Keeping up with it could be a challenge, but worth it.”
Heather, a Westport resident, accumulated a household full of items and struggled with letting go of it all.
“When you get to that point, and have too much stuff, it’s hard to know what to do with it,” Heather explains. She enlisted Van Arsdale’s help to sell the items and clear the clutter. “She was born to do this; she was decisive, never abrupt and very open,” Heather says. “You want the person to be understanding and non-judgmental — to have a ‘can do’ attitude and not be afraid to get dirty.”
After decluttering, Heather felt much lighter. “You aren’t making any mistakes with what is carted away — letting go without regret.”
To extend the life of your clutter:
Do good — Donate gently used items to Goodwill, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Vietnam Veterans, Save-A-Suit, etc.
Have a swap party — Invite friends to bring unwanted garments. Try on clothes and find new outfits.
Sell it online — thredUp offers credit to buy other items or donate to charity.
Take it to H&M (in the Westfield Trumbull) — Garments, in any condition, become upcycled, are used as padding/insulation, or become textile fibers.