How to Organize a Closet in 3 Simple Steps

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Hello friends! I hope you’re having a great week. Today I’m thrilled to invite a friend and neighbor to guest post on Smallish. Molly Orendorff runs a personal organizing business called Simplify Your Stuff and is a fellow small-living enthusiast. She recently came over to help me make some sense of the closets and storage space in The Green House. We ended up chatting for over two hours. She’s got great things to say! Please give her a warm welcome…
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   Are your closets bursting at the seams?
   Can you get the doors closed the entire way?
   Do you often spend too much time searching for things?
   Ever bought something you need, only to find the ‘missing’ one a few days later?
   Do you want to organize but don’t know where to start?
   If so, it’s time to simplify your closets.
I know, you’d rather sit through a college chemistry class than organize a closet (s)…but you’ll be so glad you did.  I promise.
Before we get started, you’ll need to grab a few things: a trash bag, recycle bin, donation box, and cleaning supplies.
Next you’ll need to get into the right frame of mind. We’re simplifying your stuff. Prepare yourself to part with anything that you don’t love AND use.  It doesn’t matter how you acquired it, what it cost, or if you think you might use it someday.  If you don’t love and use it, it needs to go.
Ok, ready to get started?  No?  Just picture your newly simplified closet…all neat and tidy, with you easily using items and then returning them to their place…sound like a fantasy world?  It can be your reality in 3 simple steps.
Here we go:

1. Remove every. single. item.

Yes, you heard me right.  It all must come out.  The only way to know what’s in there is to remove everything.  Believe me, you’ll be glad you did.  You know there is something lurking in the corner that you haven’t seen in years.  Go ahead and give the surfaces a quick wipe down/sweep/vacuum while it’s empty…less spring cleaning to do!

2. Replace each item that you love and use neatly and grouped with similar items so you know where to find things.

Baskets are perfect for smaller items that tend to get lost in closet land…but don’t run out to buy them just yet!  See if you can find anything you already own that could work (shoe boxes are great too!).  If you have to have matching storage containers, purchase them after you know exactly how many you need (and what size), and only after you’ve wiped out what you don’t use.  Buying containers and putting everything you own into them is *not* simplifying!

3.  Anything that is left after you’ve replaced your ‘keep’ items should be sold, donated, recycled, or trashed (only as a last resort, or if it truly is trash).

It really is that simple.  The only thing that makes simplifying our stuff difficult is our attachment—or our perceived attachment—to stuff.  Once you see the difference in your closet, I’ll bet you can’t wait to tackle the next space!
Here’s to simplified closets and simplified lives! 🙂
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I hope Molly’s words inspired you to do some organizing or purging today, friends. If so, comment below and tell us where you’re starting! 🙂
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  • Kim
    June 9, 2015

    Thanks, Molly. Great advise, and thanks for visiting.

  • Vicki B
    June 9, 2015

    I always think of Molly when my “junk drawer” starts to overflow. I know it’s going to take less than 10 minutes so I take everything out of the drawer, wipe it down and begin to put items back in an organized fashion. When I find two rulers and one is worn so much that I can’t read where the inch markings are, it’s time to throw it away. I just proceed with the simple steps that Molly stated above and, voila, I’m done. Just wait until you finish your linen closet with sheets and towels…. That’s a celebration! Thank you Molly. I love being simplified 🙂

  • kariane
    June 17, 2015

    I like the emphasis on making sure that EVERYTHING comes out. And, yes, I agree: organizing is different from simplifying. Thanks for sharing!

    • Evelyn
      June 17, 2015

      Hi Kariane! Simplifying, in my opinion, is definitely a better way to go. 😉 Thanks for commenting!

  • Drew Loewen
    June 19, 2015

    Ouch. I definitely need to do this with my closet soon! It’s like a tornado ran through there right now! And the part about really focusing on keeping what you use and love get me too. I often just keep something “just in case i need it sometime later.”

    • Evelyn
      June 20, 2015

      Hi Drew. I think that EVERYONE wrestles with saving things “in case I need it later.” Join the club! Just so you know you’re not alone, we haven’t tackled our master closet yet. It is also in post-tornado array. 😉 I currently have a stack of handkerchiefs that I’m debating to keep or to toss. I’m contemplating keeping them because I like the idea of going Kleenex-free and switching the household to all cloth hankies for nose blowing… but for some reason that seems like a REALLY big leap. So for now they sit until I make a decision. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

      • Angela
        July 19, 2015

        Hankies sound like a great idea! A fun way to find out for sure if you can do it is to run out of (or hide) the box of Kleenex, and test out the hankies to see if you can make the switch. If it gets unbearable have a plan for someone to pick up (or unhide) a box of paper tissues fast! 🙂

        • Evelyn
          July 22, 2015

          Genius! We’ll definitely do that, Angela. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  • Molly
    July 5, 2015

    Thanks everyone! (And thanks for having me, Evelyn!!)

    Glad you enjoyed the post…hope you found the motivation to simplify!

  • Gail
    January 18, 2018

    Great post. I’m inspired and heading to my linen press right now.

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