The five-pile method. Start a spring cleanup by making one pile for items to be moved elsewhere, one for donations, one for giveaways to people you know, one for throwaways, and one for “marinating.” That last pile should be packed in a box labeled with a date six to 12 months hence. If you don’t open it by then, toss the contents.
Set the rules. Decide before you dive into a closet what you plan to do with stained, worn, or wrong-size items—then follow through. To streamline further, hang all remaining items backward, and turn each item around only after it’s been worn. If anything is still backward in a year, donate it.
Resist adding storage. Items dispatched to storage units usually aren’t worth the rental cost. If you’re having trouble discarding an heirloom, “recognize it’s the memory you cherish”: Take a picture and give it away.