This was originally written by Leo Babauta; republished with permission.
Taming a closet full of clutter can be a fearful thing. It’s overwhelming, and we imagine it being a feat of herculean proportions, taking weeks if not decades. Here are 5 simple steps to declutter your closet.
5 Simple Steps to Declutter Your Closet
Our minds, however, are exaggerating just a bit. Decluttering a closet doesn’t have to be so intimidating or arduous a process.
Here’s how to do it, simply. Please note: we are not going to teach you how to organize your closet in the traditional sense. We’re going to teach you to empty it of all but the essentials.
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1. Set aside some time, and get some boxes. You might need a couple of hours. Or a few, if your closet is huge. Set aside an evening, if you have time in the evenings, or half a weekend day. Get boxes ready. You might need half a dozen or more, depending on how much junk you have.
2. Take everything out, empty it into a pile. All of it. Alternatively, you could choose to do this one section at a time, which could be less overwhelming — but it’ll take a few extra steps, as you’ll have to repeat these steps for each section. Either way works.
3. Quickly sort into 3 piles. Do not dilly dally, or sit on the fence. Here are the choices: keep, toss, or maybe. The maybe is only if you really really have a hard time deciding — you’ll put these in a box and store them for 6 months, getting rid of them after that time if you never needed them. The keep pile is for stuff you really love and actually use — if you haven’t used it for 6 months, put it in the toss pile. OK, 12 months for seasonal clothes (such as winter coats). If you have trouble getting rid of things for sentimental or other emotional reasons, see how to let go of possessions.
4. Clean, then put the keep pile back, organized. OK, everything sorted? Clean out the closet nicely. Put the keep pile back in the closet (unless the stuff belongs elsewhere). Put it back neatly, organized. This doesn’t have to take long. Leave spaces between things if you can.
5. Deal immediately with the other piles. Take the maybe pile (I hope you kept this pile small) and put it into a box or two. Label it maybe, with today’s date. Store it somewhere out of sight, and don’t open it for 6 months. Toss the stuff in 6 months. Take the toss pile, and put it into boxes — stuff you’ll donate to charity, stuff you’re going to give to friends, maybe other stuff you’ll sell in a yard sale or on eBay. Throw the actual trash away, or recycle.
Optional step 6: Breathe, and bask in the glory of your beautiful new minimalist closet. Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, and just admire. So minimalist, so pure. So lovely!
A few more tips:
- Keep the floors as clear as possible. If you can keep them completely clear, even better. It’s much easier to clean this way, and looks much more uncluttered.
- Label storage containers. Clear containers are best, but labels are good (just tape w/ marker is good enough) so you can easily find stuff.
- Organize clothes by colors, if you’re anal like me. It looks more organized.
- If you still have too much stuff, edit some more. There’s always more stuff we can get rid of after the initial purge.
If you’d like more ideas and tips for organizing, check out our ebook Organize Your Home.