The Risk of The Big Pile (From Your Closet)

The risk of the big pile from your closet you started while cleaning is real. What happens when you forget to pick up the pile in the floor and never return to it?

Can you avoid the mess before it gets out of control; is there a better way to clean out a closet?

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Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer. You can find this and 400 other answered questions in this series on our YouTube channel.

The Risk of the Big Closet Pile

The Risk of The Big Pile, Many Clothes on FloorHave you ever decided to clear out your closet and you yank everything out of the closet and make this great big pile? And then something happens. The kids come to visit or whatever, and you don’t get around to finishing the pile. And then day after day, the pile grows, and you don’t get around to finishing it.

Over the last couple of weeks at Savvy Cleaner, we have been talking about purging your closets, cupboards, toy boxes, bonus room and, all this stuff that you have in your life that you no longer need, want or use.

And then somebody called into the show and they said, “I’m purging. But what happens if you have a big pile and then you don’t get back to it.”  So, there is the risk of the big pile and what happens is this. You go in and you’re so super motivated and you say, “I’m going to clean out my closet and I’m going to clean out all my drawers.”

What Do You Do After You Clear Out Your Closet

The Risk of The Big Pile, Woman Thinking in Her ClosetSo, you yank out all your drawers, all the underwear, all the socks, all the t-shirts. You bring in everything from the closet and, you make an enormous pile.

We’ve seen this on TV, and you go through every single piece of clothing, and you ask the question, does this spark joy? And then you only keep the stuff that brings you joy, and you get rid of the rest. So how do you get rid of it?

Make Different Small Piles

The Risk of The Big Pile, Man and Woman With Donation BoxesWell, you make different small piles. So, you have a donation pile, and you have a sorting pile that is the stuff that you’re going to give to your friends. And then you have a toss away pile for things that are too old, has stains on it, or nobody wants it, and you’re going to throw this away.

Then you have a pile that goes to the wash. Then you have a pile that you’re going to keep and maybe a pile that is a slightly, a size smaller, maybe a size bigger, you’re going to grow into it, or you’re going to shrink into it or however. So, you’ve got all these different piles.

If You Don’t Deal With Piles, They Grow

The Risk of The Big Pile, Woman in Pile of Clothes on FloorWhat happens then is once everything is out and about, and you start sorting, you might spend five, six, eight hours going through this enormous pile. And then suddenly the kids come for the weekend and you’re like, “Whoa.” So, you close the door, and you go tend to the family and you say, “I’ll deal with the pile tomorrow.”

But then when you go to bed that night, there’s this big pile on your bed. So, you have to scoop the pile off and you’ve got to put it next to the bed. So now you have a huge pile on the floor and you have all these smaller piles that are already on the floor as you walk in and out of the bedroom, day after day, because the kids are still here.

As you tend to that, what happens is you start kicking the piles into each other and they start becoming a bigger pile strewn about. As you go to get dressed every day, the clothes that you once had hanging, are no longer hanging. So now you come back through and you’re rummaging through the piles like, “Well, I was going to give that way, but I kind of like that now that I remember I have it, I think I’ll wear it today.” Then you start digging out of the piles of stuff you were going to get rid of.

Don’t Let Everything Become Convoluted and Not Finish the Pile

The Risk of The Big Pile, Pile of Clothes on BedSo, what happens is now everything has become convoluted and you haven’t actually finished the pile. And then you get really tired of the pile after a couple of days or a couple of weeks. Because here’s the thing, you’ve never had a great big chunk of time to go through the pile.  Life gets in the way. You have work, you have a family. You have responsibilities and that other stuff continues.

So, here’s this big pile that never got attended to. What happens is suddenly you  say, “Well, I’m going to get around to this, but I don’t have time right now.” And you grab everything. You scoop it all back together and you take the great big pile and put it back in the closet.

You close the door and hope that it doesn’t explode. Well, the reality is now everything is not hanging, it’s not organized. All you’ve done is a huge disservice because you lost the momentum that you originally started with. That is the risk of the big pile.

How to Avoid the Big Pile

The Risk of The Big Pile, Woman With Winter HatsSo how do you go around that? How do you fix this without creating this big pile? The reality is this. You need to segment very small windows of time. So, in 15 minutes, you’re going to walk into that closet and pull out one thing. It maybe all the winter hats.

And you say, “Well, I don’t have very many winter hats, so that won’t take very long.” Good. That’s the one thing you will work on today. So, the winter hat. Well, now that you live in sunny Florida and there’s no need for winter hats, let’s pull out all the winter hats and let’s get rid of all the winter hats. Let’s get rid of that one item.

Look for One Item at a Time

The Risk of The Big Pile, Woman Holds Up Clothes in Her ClosetSo now you’re not looking at socks. You’re not looking at underwear. You’re not looking at special occasion dresses. And you’re not looking at other things. You’re looking for one item at a time and those are winter hats.

So, as you walk into the closet, you’re going to spend 15 minutes and you’re going to pull out all the winter hats because you kind of know where they are. And as you pull through them, you’re going to see other things. “Oh, well I see bathrobes and I’ve got five bathrobes. And they were warm when I lived in Michigan, but now that I live in Florida, I don’t need those either.”

Make a mental note of the bathrobes, and do the bathrobes tomorrow. You’re not going to do them today. You’ll do them tomorrow. Today, you’re dealing with winter hats.

Piles Happen Because You Get Distracted

The Risk of The Big Pile, Pile of Clothes on FloorAnd the reason for this is this. If you get distracted, you’re going to end up with a little bit of a pile. And that pile is going to get bigger and bigger and bigger as the momentum builds. You’re going to deal with one item and that’s the winter hats. So, as you pull out the winter hats, you already decided you live in Florida, you don’t need the winter hats anymore, at all, ever. So now you’re just going to get rid of those and those are going to go in a bag. Those are going to be donated.

Once those are in a bag and they’re in the trunk of your car and they’re ready to be donated, the project is done for you for today. Now, when you go to bed tonight, your pajamas are in the place they’re supposed to be. Your hanging clothes are in the place they’re supposed to be for tomorrow. And you don’t have a great big pile that you’re kicking and shuffling around.

Tomorrow when you get up, you can walk in there and spend 15 minutes and pull out all those nice, warm, wintry bathrobes. If you haven’t gone to the donation center yet to drop off the hats, you can do a trip at the same time and you can take all the bathrobes that you’re going to take tomorrow. 

Pick One Item to Focus on At a Time

The Risk of The Big Pile, Man With BowlsSo instead of making this huge pile, just pick one item and just laser focus on it and remove that from your life. Pick one item and then get rid of that one item. You can always come back.

There are lots of days in front of you. Every day that you do this, you can pick one item. But what happens is you start getting in the habit then as you remove that one item. You start looking around at other things and go, “Well, I don’t use this anymore, either. I could actually get rid of all these cake decorating supplies because I haven’t decorated a cake now in 14 years. So, I don’t need this stuff anymore. I’ll get rid of that too.”

Do that tomorrow. Don’t do it today. We don’t want to make a huge pile because the pile never goes away. There are a few people that do make it go away, but for the most part, we just get overwhelmed by it and it’s exhausting. And then we ended up just closing the door and there’s no room for us now in that room. We didn’t create more space, we erased ourselves from the space that we had and that’s not cool. So, there is a risk of the big pile and I want you to be aware of it.

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