When properly ordered, your closet can save you time. Here are the seven successful P strategies for optimizing your closet.


Avoid the fast and the furious. Organizing your closet should be a continual practice, not a one-time episode. Don't try to carry out the entire job in one day or you'll burn out. Plan a manageable amount of time daily to tackle the myriad details inside. Keep your mind on a reward for you to enjoy when you complete your organizing project (e.g., a special trip to the manicurist, a favorite meal, or tickets to a ball game).


There are dozens of ways to organize a closet; the right way is your way. If you're crunched for space, it doesn't make sense to pull everything out all over the bedroom. Split your organizing into small tasks: floor, shoes and shoe cubbies, top and bottom shelves, middle shelves, closet rods, drawers, cabinets, mysterious treasure boxes. While you move throughout the closet, categorize similar items together. Dust, vacuum, and wipe all surfaces to give you a clean slate.


Successful closet organizing requires tough choices about what flatters your best assets and what doesn't. Forecast what your life will hold for you in the next year. Everything in your closet should have a purpose for today and tomorrow, not yesterday. Set up a series of bins or bags to sort out items to keep, donate, trash, mend/ repair (for those long -neglected fixes), give away (maternity clothes to your sister), recycle (wire hangers, dry cleaning bags, paper, etc.), and miscellaneous projects. Along the way you'll find objects that need to be relocated elsewhere in your home (so add a bin for that, too). Warning: Do not allow these relocations to distract you. Stay with the closet. As an extra shot in the arm, call in a trusted friend who can coach you through the "How do I look?" phase. Tripping down memory lane will be easier if you know your unused items will be more useful to a charity.


Carry out all the projects and make a shopping list for needs that have emerged from your newly slimmed-down wardrobe. Every closet requires the following organizing products: clothes hamper (for both laundry and dry cleaning), mesh bag (for hand-washing), shelf dividers (so sweaters, pants, and T-shirts don't tumble), wastebasket, sewing kit, jars (for buttons, collar stays, and clothing tags), an open basket (for cell phone, coins, and wallet), and several large storage containers (for rotating out-of-season clothing). Measure your shelves before you shop to avoid time-consuming returns.


Before loading your life back into the space, assign a counter or shelf to act as a temporary way station to dump daily stuff you'll put away later. Second, find a permanent home for your everyday purse, briefcase, messenger bag, or gym bag. Third, organize your clothes according to how you use them. Anything you wear repeatedly should be within effortless grasp, and rarely used items go on a higher shelf or another out-of-the-way spot. Place scarves, belts, hats, and jewelry on or in decorative hooks and baskets.


Once your purging and purchasing have taken place, you may choose to invest in a few optional decorative touches if time permits. To brighten a wardrobe, repaint the closet a clean, crisp white and replace lights with higher-wattage bulbs. Arrange items by hanging length - season, type, and color. Apply labels to mark your bins to avoid uncertainty about where things go. Install a full-length mirror on the back of the door. Buy matching hangers to unify the visual look of the space.


Organizing your closet is like giving it a Botox injection. The change may be only visual and cosmetic. Follow the habit of tidying everyday disorder to maintain your organized grandeur. The organization is the inner beauty. I find the best time to tidy is just prior to laundry day or during seasonal changes - when a closet is somewhat emptier and you have space to move around.