The Closet Purge

Every time you stand before your cluttered closet, racked by indecision, you’re flushing time down a drain you can never plug.

How many times have you promised yourself that next weekend will be the one where you vanquish that university-era Cosby cardigan, and all the other orphaned and unwanted apparel, from your closet.

But there you are again on Monday, in a “slack-jawed” stupor, spewing swear words while that cardigan conceals your prey: that Oxford dress shirt you considered pairing with it a couple months ago. It sucks. I know.

So maybe now’s a good time to mention the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule. Most people wear 20 per cent of their clothes 80 per cent of the time.

So your same old same routine—made worse by stuff you don’t wear often—is siphoning seconds, then minutes, then months and maybe even an entire year from whatever combination of working, sleeping, eating, drinking, and fucking you shoehorn into life.

But what if you could free those hours, reserve them for moments more memorable than, “I have all these damned clothes and nothing to wear.”

You can. You’re about to hear how to organize your closet with efficiency. And, get this, you only have to do it once a year.

Andrew Mellen is a professional organizer and the author of Unstuff Your Life! Kick the Clutter Habit and Completely Organize Your Life for Good.

Mellen wants me to stop you before you claim that organizing sounds a bit feminine. Regardless of your chromosomes, “Every minute that you waste, you’ll never get that time back.”

How to purge with purpose (the Andrew Mellen way)

1. Study time: Take 10 or 15 minutes and think about how you reach for the things you wear. Does your closet setup work for your life?

2. Location, location, location: Are the clothes you wear most accessible or are they buried behind your collection of Hawaiian print shirts?

3. The purge: Pull everything out and lay it on the floor or bed. Embrace segregation and put like with like. Socks stick with socks. No exceptions.

4. The full picture: Now you can see the amount of stuff you have. Don’t make decisions about what to banish until you sort everything, unless the clothes are damaged. If they’re damaged, trash ‘em. Donate what’s salvageable to charity and keep what you wear. Having a lot stuff doesn’t make you rich, especially if you don’t wear it.

5. Tabula Rasa: Look at your empty closet and figure out what you need to make it work. Head to IKEA or Home Depot and get the parts you need to tweak it out before you re-organize.

6. OK, I’m Reloaded: Place your most used items where you can reach them with ease. Consider coordinating by colour. The fewer decisions you have to make when you reach for something, the more likely you’re going to grab what you want when you want it and it’s going to serve you.

So what now? What do you do next?

Do something. Anything. Well, not anything. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or spend time with your family. Hit the clubs. Grab beers with your buds, and make it a craft brew.

As Andrew says, “Whatever it is that you would rather spend your time doing than interacting with inanimate objects, now you have the time to do it.”

To learn how you can unstuff your closet (and life), check out the free resources at Andrew’s website.

Pierre Hamilton is a freelance writer from Toronto, where some of his best friends describe him as an acquired taste. He enjoys bourbon and scotch, but craves craft beer, overproof Jamaican rum and great non-fiction. He has a very limited style knowledge but knows what he likes. He also produces a monthly music podcast called Sound Considerations. Follow him, but not too closely, on Twitter.
Photo courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker.

This is a test