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Victory! Purged Clothes Lead to Organized Closet

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
Recently I received this wonderful email from a friend and O4L reader. With her permission, I am letting you read over my shoulder. I hope you are encouraged and inspired to make needed changes in your life.

Dear Martha,

Here’s a praise report and some good [news] about how the LORD has given me the needed desire and encouragement to purge and organize my clothes and closet.

I had wanted to lose weight to be healthy and The LORD led me to a ‘diet plan’ that has really made a big difference.  I am down 22 lbs. and have reached my goal with 2 lbs to spare. In the meantime - the lost pounds and inches – meant lots of my clothes needed to go -  He has  given me a new mindset -  that this is the healthy weight for me and I’m making the lifestyle change to stay within two pounds of it.

So I no longer feel the need to save the larger sizes “just in case”. When I lost the first 10- or 11 pounds I gave away some of my ” too big for me but in good shape” clothing to friends and family.  It was a joy to pass things on to others (who were blessed) and to have less “stuff” cluttering up my closet.

Then two days ago – after losing this final 11 lbs - I tried on every piece of clothing I own – summer - winter – all of it and I’m actually purging at least 2/3 of my wardrobe!!

We have always had limited closet space and even though I’m not one to buy tons of clothes -I did save old ones for WAY too long and  I have had to use the  spare bedroom closet to store seasonal clothing.

Both the spare bedroom closet and our closet are so organized now. I  purged every part – old shoes – purses – belts you name it – WOW what a euphoric feeling on all fronts !!!  Also I’ve done what you’ve mentioned and used the summer sales to buy a few ‘nice replacement items’ in the new sizes – but only a few.

I still have to find homes for some of the clothing I think friends might like – but all that is decent and not something specifically thought of for individuals  is boxed up and in my car to be donated.

YOUR message is timely and I’m blessed by God’s grace to make healthy changes which I know are improving our quality of life.   MOVING Forward into a lifestyle of organization.  Thanks for your help and inspiration.

Blessings, Cyndy

Closet Storage Tip: Use Shelf Dividers

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Don’t you hate it when you fold lots of towels or tees and the first time someone grabs one off the shelf the pile tips over?
That’s where closet shelf dividers come in. You can attach these to either solid shelving or the wire shelves in your closets. Just be sure you are ordering the right type! These are a few examples.

Check your big box stores first before you pay shipping.

Organize It


Chrome Shelf Dividers
Item No: 014982186409
10” high by 12” deep
Set of 2 – $6.99
These can slide on front of shelf, so fit all widths


Acrylic Shelf Divider
8″high x 12″deep
$13.75 each
Pricey, but so elegant! Use for  your MBR closet only?

Lilian Vernon


Wire Shelf Dividers
from Lilian Vernon
SKU: 603989
10 1⁄2″ x 1 3⁄4″ x 12 1⁄4″ H
Set of 2 – $9.98, 4 for $19.96
Expands to fit between most wire shelving slats.

NOTE: Lillian Vernon also has a solid shelf version at a reasonable price, but these fit only 12” shelves.

When you are planning the number to purchase, decide on an odd number of stacks and buy one more divider. (i.e. 3 stacks => 4 dividers)

Finally, if you want to fold with the best of them and fast, this is a neat folding tool!

Michael Graves Closet Organizing System, A Review

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

When I first saw the Michael Graves closet organization system, I thought, “No Way! That will be too much weight on one closet rod!”

With further thought about the possibilities, I have come to the conclusion that the ClosetMax system will work for some folks provided their needs are within certain parameters. Think with me to see if you “qualify” to use this system.

The Michael Graves ClosetMAX System

  • You are committed to keeping only the amount of hats/shoes, sweaters that fit in the hanging bins – a clear “one in, one out” mandate.
  • You want to use the double hang rod in a child’s closet to put his/her hanging clothes within reach.
  • You will use only 3-4 of the hanging storage bins to keep weight at a minimum.
  • You are able to reinforce your existing closet rod that is 6′ or more in length.
  • You are ready to keep the essentials of a spartan wardrobe and let go of mistakes, mismatched items, “weight loss” wannabes, stained and irrepairable items.
  • You will only keep linens used in the adjoining bath here, not the entire linen closet!
  • You want to use the 6 shelf bin to sort and label children’s clothes for each day of the school week.

OK, I am convinced that this system has merit provided it is used carefully. These are the pros and cons to consider when making your decision.


Versatility and cohesive look – The many choices of organizing bins  give lots of options while the neutral palette ties all pieces together.

No tools required – Everything hangs from your existing closet rod.

Multiple double hang options – Each piece has the double hang bar holder, so you can use the lower bar in any configuration.


The weight issue – Everything hangs from your existing closet rod. Be ruthless in trimming down your wardrobe and use this system to keep it in check.

Wasted space – Each of the hanging bins will take 10-20” of closet rod space. Only install the pieces you will fill from top to bottom

Wide access needed – this system may not work for the older narrow closets with limited entry or sliding doors. In order to find what you need quickly, the bins should have direct “reach in” access.

The ClosetMax Collection is now available at Target. You can view the collection online at NeatFreak. This manufacturer blog states that you must purchase from retailer. I guess The Shopping Channel counts because that site sells the above configuration for $89 (S&H extra).

Like any other tool, this closet system will work for the right application. I have been known to hammer the 1” nail I need to hang a picture using the end of a screwdriver. Not the best idea. Use the right tool to get the best results.

What to Do About the Hobby I Used to Be Passionate About?

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Have you had an interest in the past that has been pushed aside by family or job responsibilities? You plan to get back to your sewing projects, sports collection, history books, scrapbooking, genealogy, _____________________ (fill in the blank) someday.  Meanwhile, that mound of yesterday’s projects is a distraction at best, at worst a symbol of failure to execute.

Topps 2010 Baseball Cards

It is possible that your interests simply have changed and you have outgrown that pursuit or hobby. Do you ever read the first half of a book and decide you learned all you wanted to on that particular topic?  The same can happen with any interest.  There is nothing wrong with deciding to change direction or to learn a new skill. Like the book, a hobby or activity can be set aside and the materials given to another avid follower.

Do not allow that stalled project to rule your emotions or take up precious space.

If you truly want to pursue a past activity when your time is freer, box up the project materials and store in a remote location. That will clear both your mind and your space of extraneous clutter. All your materials will be intact when you are ready to begin anew (or to gladly pass it all on to a grateful friend.)

No guilt or regret need apply!

How Do You Get Kids to Take Their Stuff?

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

This is the question I was asked at a recent GO Month presentation. The topic was Downsizing BEFORE You Have to Move.

The short answer – Set a Deadline! I give anyone reading this permission to make me the bad guy. Say, “My professional organizer is making me do it!”

Watch this short video for a true story about kids and their stuff from premier New Zealand organizer, Wendy Davie.

My mom saved stuff for her four children in her basement for 30+ years. When she was ready to move into a retirement center, she set the deadline for us to take our stuff or else.  Clothes from the 70′s were mildewed.  Hundreds of science fiction paperbacks were carted off (and pitched later.) There was no reason for her to have stored those things all that time.

Be tough! Set a deadline. If the stuff is important, children will take it.  If not, donate the things so someone else can use it.

7 Most Effective Organize-O-Metrics

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Perform these exercises once a month to lose 5-7 pounds of excess weight each time. ( As an added side effect, you may lose weight and build stronger bones.)42-15614410

  1. Deep knee bends: Bending knees, keeping back straight, lift one item from the floor.  Place the item in a drawer, cupboard or box nearest to where you will next need it.  Keep a trash can handy for extra balance and to store things that have no further use.  Repeat 20 times.
  2. Lower abdominal tighteners: Equipment – empty laundry basket.  In your main closet, pull in your lower abdomen and hold it.  Taking one item from a hanger, put it on.  If unable to fit over your head, close the front, or fasten waist, place in the laundry basket.  Breathe out as you release your abdominal muscles and commit that piece of clothing to another home.  Repeat 10 times.  ( Reuse filled basket in exercise #3)
  3. Step stool high-stepping: Write on 2 index cards: KEEP and GIVE. Determine the least accessible shelf or cupboard in your kitchen. Using a step stool, remove everything from that space. While performing the exercise, ask yourself two questions about each item you touch:  1) Have I used this within 2 years? If  “No,” put the item in the GIVE  pile. If “Yes,” ask the second question,  2) Do I use it at least once a month? If “No,” put it back where it came from. If “Yes,” find a new home in a more accessible location.  Add the clothes from the laundry basket to the GIVE pile and dispose of everything by donating to a friend, charity, or the trash man.
  4. Hip flexers: Equipment – One or more 25 CD/DVD storage containers. Sit on the floor facing your media center with knees apart. Lean forward and pick up one DVD or CD. Return to the upright position and open the case while taking a deep breath. If the case has the correct disc, close it and set it in the container. If not, remove any disc and place both to the side for now. Breathe out. Repeat until all CD/DVD’s have been removed. Match up any newly discovered pairs and place in the storage container.  Empty cases then are placed behind the loaded cases and lone CD/DVD’s placed in sandwich bags go in front. One final step to finish this exercise strong: flip through each title and let go of those that no longer hold any interest for you.
  5. Lower back stretch: Equipment – a plastic bin labeled MOVE.  Lying on the floor face down near a bed, reach with your left arm to capture the nearest container-escapee from under the bed. Place it in the plastic bin. Repeat four more times, then do the same motion five times with right arm. Continue until the floor under the bed is cleared. Use the items in the container in exercise # 6.
  6. Cool down: Pick one item from the container filled in exercise #5. Decide which person uses that and where. Walk from room to room at a medium pace, depositing each item close to the door of the appropriate room. DO NOT STEP INSIDE THE ROOM! Keep walking until the container is empty.
  7. One last stretch: Crossing one foot over the other, slowly pick up the laundry basket from exercise #3. Change foot position, crossing the other foot in front and slowly pick up the plastic bin from exercise #6. Place in the laundry basket and lift both over your head. Stretching as high as you can, say, “I did it!” Put both containers away until next month.

Now you can go weigh the items in your GIVE pile to see how much weight you lost this month. Congratulations!

Downsizing: The 100 Thing Challenge, Dream or Nightmare?

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Well, Dave Bruno’s personal 100 Thing Challenge timed out on his birthday this past November. This is how he described his intent last summer in his blog, aguynameddave:

Goal: By November 12, 2008 I will only have 100 personal things. I will live with only 100 personal things for one full year, until November 12, 2009.

Dave writes that he wants to distance himself from rampant American consumerism. His list of the 100 things he is keeping is an interesting read. Dave is a hiker, surfer, writer, and Christian. I don’t know Dave, but I can tell a lot about him from his list.

In an interview with, Dave explains what prompted this movement.

“Stuff starts to overwhelm you,” says Dave Bruno, 37, an online entrepreneur who looked around his San Diego home one day last summer and realized how much his family’s belongings were weighing him down.

Do you feel the same? Are you ready to downsize? Does the thought of reducing your belongings to only 100 things inspire you or make you break out in a cold sweat? I honestly don’t know if I want to live at quite that level of minimalism. However, I believe that a return to the basics would be a great  side benefit of our recent economic downturn here in the U.S.

Possessions can truly own us as we struggle to clean, maintain, replace, and endlessly upgrade the “stuff.”  Shedding a few extra pounds of belongings can be very freeing! I have experienced that in my own life, and watched the look of joy on client’s faces when they feel that themselves.

So, in the spirit of congratulating Dave on his courageous journey, here are a few suggestions to help us all pare down gradually.

  1. For every new item you bring into your home, determine to lose another item.
  2. Twice a month go through one drawer or cabinet. Separate the stuff you have used within the past year from the unused items. If there is something in the unused pile that you are certain to need in the near future, keep it.  Otherwise gift that entire pile to trash man, friend, relative, or charity.
  3. If you have clothing you don’t really like or is too large/small, give it away.
  4. Think of those collections of things you are keeping “just in case” – cool whip containers, newspapers, magazines, old ribbons and bows, gift boxes, string, rubber bands off the broccoli. Decide on a small number (maybe 1/4 of the number you now have) and dispose of the rest.
  5. Is there a hobby that you have outgrown? Find another enthusiast and make his day.
  6. Do you have possessions that are starved for affection? You have so many other things that you never use that one? Remind yourself, “This thing needs someone to love and care for it!” Be kind to that item and find it a good home where it will be cherished.

Three years ago, my husband and I moved downtown to a condo that is 40% smaller than our old home. The process of letting go of things was not an easy one. We are glad we persisted. Our time spent in maintenance is now minimal. We walk to sporting events, movies, and restaurants (maybe even a casino soon, though I sincerely hope not!) We are thoroughly enjoying getting back to basics!

Perhaps you will be inspired by this quote from a true minimalist. “I had three chairs in my house: one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.”  – Henry David Thoreau, the ultimate downsizer.