The irony of it -- a blogger who writes about decluttering, and her own utility closet looks like this. But what better way to get some clarity on an issue than by digging in and doing? My closet may not look all that nasty, but locating and retrieving necessities was getting difficult.

I knew there was junk in there that I didn't want or need anymore. So, the first thing I did was haul everything out of the closet. That was the easy part.

Organization comes easy to me, but throwing things out doesn't. I look at a collection of lamp parts and think, "Lamps are expensive. I could make or fix a lamp from these."

But, really, I should be thinking, "What chain of events would make me need these?"

Then, it becomes apparent that unless I really need another lamp (unlikely), or a valuable lamp needs a part (unlikely), or I have no money to go buy even a second-hand lamp (unlikely), I have no need for the lamp parts. 
And that is how I spent the next two hours.  

I now have room for my vacuum cleaner in the cleaning closet. Order has replaced chaos, and I was so pleased that I had to stop myself from going on to do another closet. Sort of. If someone like me who doesn't enjoy purging (I even hate the word) can toss things, you can too. Here are some pointers for making it a little easier to get a closet cleaned and organized.  

When I finished, I could find whatever I
needed and had room for everything.

Probe for clarity 

 Ask these questions of everything you take out of the closet. Do I like it? Do I need it? Would it be difficult to replace? The answer to at least one of these questions should be, "Yes." Ideally, the answer to all three would be, "Yes!" 

Motivate yourself

Tackle this project when you are feeling clear-headed and energetic, but not necessarily happy.  Being a little annoyed at your clutter makes getting rid of it easier. Don't get sentimental or nostalgic, as these emotions will slow you down and cloud your rationality. Just keep envisioning how righteous your closet will look and how well it will function for you. And how impressed house hunters will be. Yes, impressed, because most people have messes in hidden places, and you won't.

Adopt a strategy

Give yourself room.You may have to clear a space outside the closet as a landing platform. A big bed nearby is a boon. I had to spread my closet contents out along the adjacent hallway, but it worked fine. Keeping a wastebasket or garbage bag handy saves steps.

Did I need all these lamp and electrical parts?

Decide on a reward 

Promise yourself something you like once you're done. I told myself I could have a blueberry yogurt smoothie. Staying hungry helped move the project along. What's your perk?

Name some categories

I found it efficient to sort as I emptied. I clustered cleaning supplies, vacuum cleaner accessories, batteries, candles, picture hanging supplies, tools, and so forth, as I took them off the shelves.

Consolidate belogings

I discovered I had three separate spray bottles of window cleaner, and that all the liquid fit into just one bottle. Cleaning cloths were in three different places, leftover hinges and cabinet knobs were hither and thither, and lamp parts were everywhere.

Relocate some items

Whenever I came upon an item that belonged in another place, I took it there, including a pile in the living room for my favorite charity second-hand store. I knew I risked distraction by "leaving the work site," but dealing with strays kept the area around me from getting too congested. "Focus. focus," I told myself.
I didn't need to purchase fancy containers and accessories.
I just used what I had. Contents are obvious, so labels aren't necessary.

Confide in another person

You can create your own accountability factor, even a contrived one like I did. I knew I'd be blogging about my closet re-set. I had someone to impress: you, my reader. I didn't want to look like a slob blogger. Maybe you have an open house coming up that could serve as your accountability push.

Enjoy your discoveries 

You're bound to unearth some treasures. My favorite tiny screwdriver that I thought I'd lost showed up. A box of Magic Erasers I didn't know I had was hidden under a bag of sponges. A generous stash of grocery bags that we need for when we, ahem, walk our beagle, occupied a back corner. Enough old hinges, cabinet knobs, and lamp parts (pat on back!) manifested to net me enough cash from the scrap metal place to take a friend and myself to lunch.

When house hunters tour homes on the market, they usually look in closets. Closets are important to buyers, and a tidy closet speaks well of you and your staged home. So, dig in! The hardest part is getting started. Honest.

Get the  look, get the book

For more encouraging tips and techniques that make house staging easy, download my eBook, DIY HomestagingTips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar.