I get together with a group of friends about once a month; we usually go to one another’s home for dinner and drinks. Last month it was my turn and, as the ladies were sitting around having drinks after dinner, I overheard one of them whispering how well organized my home was. “A place for everything and everything in its place,” I think she said. I brushed it off and thought nothing more of it.

The next month we were due to go to the apartment of the lady who made the comment. The week before, I got a text from her asking if I am free for lunch. I just happen to be in the area that day, so we arranged to meet. As it turns out, she was in a panic over the mess in her place and her inability to keep it organized due to her busy lifestyle. She was ashamed to have the other ladies over unless she fixed the problem. Over lunch we found that the root of her problem was storage; she had three closets full of stuff she neither wanted nor needed, but she wasn’t able to clear out the stuff she no longer needed. I put her mind at ease by explaining my secret. Other than the fact that I had been following the advise of Darcy Camden for years, a person who is an expert in helping people clean out their closet. These are her five keys to success.

1. Donate to clean out your closet

Darcy recommends that her clients purge a little at a time. She recognizes that purging a whole closet in one day can be too much for many people. Instead, she recommends that you find out where your local goodwill is located and get some donation bags ready. I actually prefer to use a favorite charity that comes to pick up at my home but they’re the same concept. Mark the “donation date” on your calendar and then start with the items you have no recollection of wearing, and put them in a bag one item at a time. That way they’ll be out of sight until the donation date arrives. If you plan to use your donation as a tax write off, make sure you write the items down while you are putting them in the bag so that you won’t be tempted to pull things out again.

Clean out your closet and make a difference
Extra Tip: Consider buying a closet organizer. This is a great motivator for keeping your closet clean and organized.

2. If you can’t fit it, donate it

The subsequent step is to be honest with yourself, no matter how expensive or nice a piece of clothing is, if you cannot wear it, it is of no use to you. But it can keep someone in need warm at night. The smallest thing can bring some joy to another life. And before you ask..no, keeping it because you intend to lose the extra weight, is not a valid excuse.

3. Every new season is an opportunity

When the weather changes, take this opportunity to purge some winter or summer clothes. Start with the older items or the ones you haven’t worn. It is easier to purge something that you cannot wear today. If you didn’t wear something this winter or summer, chances are you won’t wear it next year either.

4. Buy one, purge one method

This process is simple, if you buy something new, you have to donate something old. The next time you buy a new pair of jeans, donate the ones in the corner of the closet gathering dust. Keep count, every receipt that comes into the house must be held accountable. If you buy five new things, five old ones have got to go.

5. Don’t get lazy!

I understand that preparing a donation (particularly documenting everything) isn’t always easy, but don’t turn to the landfill non-solution. Don’t listen to the narrative that your old clothes are not good enough to be donated. Remember that there are hundreds and thousands of people and families homeless in your country. Some of them have nothing. Charity will make use of everything you donate. Do you think a homeless person cares whether their jacket is missing a button (they can be replaced) or that their socks are odd? They don’t. You can clean out your closet while making a difference in someone else’s life.

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