04/14/2014 08:56 am ET Updated Jun 14, 2014

Recipe for Effective Spring Cleaning

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In life, three things are certain: death, taxes and occasionally having to clean out your closet. Whether you're as spare as Ghandi or as lavish as Imelda Marcos, it can be hard to muster up the chops for Spring Cleaning. A little strategy can help make the cuts less tough.


1 closet
1 cup decisiveness
½ cup stone cold heartedness
½ cup brutal honesty
1 digital camera
1-2 brown paper shopping bags
1/3 cup will of iron

Recipe Procedure:

Begin by opening brown paper bags in preparation for deposits of discarded clothing. Keep to a limited number of bags to forestall feelings of sending half of your wardrobe to the proverbial guillotine.

Applying decisiveness, do a cursory review of your closet. There will be a surface layer of shirts and sweaters you blatantly haven't worn in a year or that you hate, but keep out of guilt because they're "perfectly good" or relative-bequeathed and just glow with halos with neglect. Bag 'em.

The next round will be the tougher cuts -- things you kind of want to get rid of, but aren't really ready to let go of just yet. If bagging an item gives you a twinge, set it aside. It is very important not to contaminate the bags with sentimentality -- if an ounce of second-guessery reaches the bags, it is unlikely any item in the bag will make it out of your room, even the no-brainers.

Next, apply brutal honesty to questionable items. Items you keep out of guilt belong in the bags. Items you're still attached to go back into the closet (for now).

Now, for the drop: Gather the bags and take them to your local Salvation Army/Goodwill/place of donation. Apply a will of iron and leave the bags. Even if you are leaving them outside and even if it is raining, walk away from the bags. It's just stuff.

Finish by enjoying feelings of freedom and weightlessness.

Sub Recipe: Junk

There will be some articles of clothing/ extraneous closet occupying debris that you want to get rid of, but feel you can't because you've already kept them for this long (posters from high school, old boyfriend items, that chic votive from your aunt). Using the digital camera, take photos of these items and make a solemn pact with yourself to develop them. It's much more economical to hold on to a snapshot of a random sweatshirt than it is to hold on to the sweatshirt. Then apply stone cold-heartedness and bag that puppy.