When your closet is so jam-packed with stuff that you can’t find what you need, you know it’s time to do some organizing. But what do you do when you feel mentally cluttered — scattered, overwhelmed, anxious, or abnormally indecisive?
Traditionally, spring cleaning is about decluttering your closets, but it can also be a good time to think about streamlining your life. And there’s a long-proven organizing hack to keep things organized that works for your mindset, too. Yup, I’m talking about figuring out how to Keep, Fix, Toss, or Donate things in your life that may or may not be serving you anymore.
The details of the classic method vary depending on who you talk to. Some people prefer making piles labeled with sticky notes, some people prefer dumping their belongings into large plastic bins, but the premise is the same. Create separate areas to put your things, and slowly sift through your items to place them in one of four categories:
KEEP things that you use often, have sentimental value, make you happy, or serve a season-specific purpose — like that ice cream maker you use on special occasions, or that patio furniture you break out once summer hits. When it comes to stuff on your mind or in your life that you want to keep, an example might be goals you’ve always wanted to tackle but just haven’t achieved yet or a character trait that’s helped you through tough times.
FIX things that you want to keep, but have a component that renders them useless until repaired. Whether it’s a faulty appliance or a jacket with a missing button, fixing something that’s otherwise fully functional can feel like getting something brand new for a fraction of the cost. When it comes to mental things that might fall under this category, an example could be bittersweet memories of loved ones you want to work through, or a belief that being “the strong one” in your friend group must come at the expense of your own well-being.
TOSS things that cannot be (or, maybe more realistically, won’t be) repaired, papers and product manuals that have either been digitized or have information on them that can be found online, products that have expired, items that you can’t identify (like that plastic knob you’ve kept for five years because “you know it must go somewhere”), or are… and this might sound obvious… just plain trash. When it comes to your mindset, this could be a belief you pretend to agree with (but don’t) in order to “fit in,” or a constant complaint about a problem you’re not interested in finding a solution for.