A closet can easily become a dumping ground for things we don’t use and don’t need. The items we use most often come to the front while everything else gets pushed farther and farther back. Eventually, your closet space is overwhelmed, and it becomes harder and harder to use.

If your closets feel like work, it’s time to de-clutter. Most clients have tried some form of de-cluttering but found it frustrating. If you take one item out at a time and try to decide if you should keep it or not, chances are you will quickly give up.

If you want a process that works, use ours:

Take everything completely out of your closet.

When you have an empty space in front of you, thinking about what you want to put in it is much different from thinking about what you want to take out. It ends up being a more practical way to identify what you don’t need.

Give the closet a new coat of paint, if you can.

Closets can feel dark and dingy and unwelcoming. A fresh coat of paint elevates the closet’s importance in your mind and helps you to think harder about how you use it.

Optimize your hanging space.

Shelves and drawers are more expensive than rod space, and hanging items tend to be easier to see and access. Also, don’t worry about having expensive or fancy hangers. What and where you hang items is more important than what they are hanging from.

As you return items to the closet, think about the zones you put them.

Organizing by color can be tempting, but if you have a lot of the same colors, items can get lost. Instead, try adding an active zone, or organizing your closet by outfits. You can change these outfits later, of course, but this approach keeps the right items close together and also makes your mornings easier, and you can easily identify items that need tossed out.

Get the items you don’t want out of the house!

Put them in the car and drive directly to your favorite charity or consignment store.

Let your systems do the work. When you start with an empty closest, you will mentally resist messing it up and hold a higher bar for what goes back in, making getting organized much less intimidating and intense.