Spanx vs the Lapband: what’s your clutter situation?

Did you ever consider losing clutter to be analogous to losing weight? It is! And though everyone is unique, in Get Organized Already’s professional organizing adventures three different situations show up over and over.

Which of the following weight loss scenarios best describes you? Check out my pro tips to help you get organized no matter what the size of your clutter is.
nonni w basket

Tummy tuck anyone?

Sometimes when we walk in the door with our cute aprons and our magic organizing basket, people want to have a complete overhaul. Their house, or just a room, is too packed to be usable anymore. If this sounds familiar, you are probably too overwhelmed to know where to start.

Pro tip: Start with a trash bag, a lined donation bin, and a box for any papers you find. Start in one corner of the room and set a timer. Touch everything only once, put each item in the appropriate container, and work until the timer goes off. That’s less daunting than tackling the whole room, right? In situations like this, our professional team will spend a few hours getting your room, or home, back to a manageable state. The momentum will keep you moving forward on your own or with people who love you.

Staying in shape

My personal organizing style is livable and comfortable. I know where everything is, but the beds may not be made. (Shocking, I know! But this is real life we are living—not a movie.) As long as the people in my home know where stuff lives, we can all navigate around each other and not spend our time searching for our things (and yelling, “HAVE YOU SEEN IT?” across the house). This scenario is for those who need a maintenance plan to keep their home organized.

Pro tip: Let all users of items know where things belong using labels. (It doesn’t have to be fancy. A sticky note or painter’s tape works just fine inside cabinets, drawers, and pantries.)

People generally flip out about this comfortable style of organizing because they have fallen victim to thinking that organized means rigid and perfect. Newsflash: perfection is not possible! A comfortable style of organizing suits most people because it is realistic and less expensive (as in no fancy labels or matching containers to buy). And works a lot better than what about 56 percent of you have going on right now: the dreaded PicMonkey Collagewe-don’t-have-a-system approach.

Ready for the college reunion

At the far end of the organizing continuum lie the Martha Stewart and Howard Hughes personalities of the world. Get Organized Already can help you, too! I have two lovely ladies on my organizing team with extensive backgrounds in interior design. They are amazing at creating the types of rooms you see in magazines. Whenever someone calls and I can tell they want to take their home to the next level (think Better Homes and Gardens or Apartment Therapy), I send out my Label Ladies.

I love to be in these places: fresh flowers and herbs in the entryway, a calendar printed in chalkboard paint and framed in a custom frame. Open the drawers and angels sing. The labels whisper beautiful phrases like, “fresh nutmeg” and “organic basmati rice.”

I’m not kidding. It is very peaceful and if I could, I’d have a Get Organized Already organizer over here every day to keep my shizzle looking like that in a heartbeat!

Pro tip: Getting organized isn’t a one time event. It has to happen regularly.

Everyone has their comfort level. Whatever your state of comfort or chaos, there’s a way to stay organized. And my team can help you accomplish your vision of the just-right organized home for less than you spend on two trips to Whole Foods. True story.


Turkey Day Preppers

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Photo credit to Vicki Nikolaidis via Flickr

Preparing for Thanksgiving is kind of like preparing for the end of the world. Everyone is hoarding food, the store shelves are stripped bare, and everyone is running around like they are never going to see the light of tomorrow.

The biggest stresser is timing. I mean, the turkey takes hours, the gravy takes minutes. There are sides, and salads, desserts, and cocktails. How in the world are you going to make sure everything comes out at the right time?

Plan ahead.

This important step may add a little more time to your prep routine, but it will be worth it. It’s something I have done to keep me from losing it every holiday season. Plus, once you have your routine down to a science, you can it apply it to other times like birthdays or the super bowl party your other half springs on you a week before.

First things first: The guest list. You can’t possibly know how much to make if you have no idea how many people are coming.

Once you have your list, prepare 1.5 servings per person even for children, because while they may not eat their allotted serving, that extra will be there for the person who comes back for their third plate.

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Photo credit to Bruce Turner via Flickr

Next thing: Grocery list. Decide ahead of time what you’re going to make and write a list of food items with each one’s ingredients underneath. You don’t need to include measurements in this list. Go through your pantry and cabinets and cross off what you already have on hand. Eggs, butter, and milk are things to buy even if you have some on hand. Chances are you’re going to need more than what you have.

To make your big day easier, prep some of your food the day before. Assemble the baked macaroni so all you’ll have to do is pop it in the oven while the turkey is resting. Boil your potatoes the day before and mash them on the day of. You can even put pies together, refrigerate, and bake them while everyone is eating.

How much early preparation you do depends on your comfort level and what you’re making. To make it easier (and because I’m a huge list person), write out everything you will be making the day before. List all of the preparatory steps one food item at a time. The list will keep you from feeling frazzled, and going in circles.

What are some Thanksgiving cooking tips and tricks you find helpful?

Or is this your first Thanksgiving? If so, what are some concerns and worries you have?

Organizing like Rumpelstiltskin: Cash for Gold!

Cash for gold? Are you kidding? Do I look that broke to you?

Granted, it feels a little like food stamps—really desperate. But wait a minute. What if my reasoning for talking about selling your gold is more about making room for more jewelry in your life? Like shoes—another precious, precious thing—gold that isn’t being worn is just sitting there, stagnant in your drawer, taking up space where new shoes could be.

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Curtsey of badgreed_records

Why would I do that?

Whether you think of selling gold as releasing old energy to bring in new, better things, or you think of it as free money is up to you.

Either scenario sounds pretty darn good to me and I’ve had clients request this service for both of those reasons.

So, here’s what you do.


Go through your jewelry to find the pieces you honestly have no intention of ever wearing again: pieces from HS and college boy/girlfriends, out-of-date patterns, etc. In the case of jewelry I’m going to loosen my professional organizer belt and say when in doubt keep it. Jewelry (unlike dishes or your wedding dress) doesn’t take up much room at all and your children may actually want it.

Use a magnet

The first thing the buyer will do is use a magnet. If you’d like to save some time, test for yourself before you leave the house. If any of your stuff sticks to the magnet, forget it. It’s crap. No gold there. Put it in your donate bin.

Some of the things (HS boyfriend’s ring) I thought were fake actually were gold. So, don’t assume.

Check current buying rates

Buyers will weigh your gold by the ounce and give you some percentage of the current market rate. If you need some motivation in the form of a dollar amount to get you into the store, check this site for rates and roughly calculate how much green you’ll be getting for your gold.

scrap gold 2

Head to the store

To combat the I-must-be-really-broke-to-be-doing-this vibe you may be feeling, put on your big girl shoes and an outfit you generally feel good wearing. Dressing well always helps in a new situation. Don’t you think?

Let me highly recommend Diamano Fine Jewelry at 642 East Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena (at El Molino). According to my telephone research in Pasadena, they pay more than other buyers: 75 percent of market value. They round up on the weight of your pieces. And, most importantly, they are friendly, very classy, and courteous. It’s a fine jewelry store, not a place to send money orders or buy bus tokens. If you aren’t near Pasadena, find a reputable jewelry seller near you who also buys gold.


Wherever you decide to sell, make sure you will get paid right there. It is a crazy wild feeling like winning in Vegas. Let’s put it this way, I’m going to New York this weekend with Jeff and the recent haul I took in was worth more money than my round-trip ticket. Gulp. That stuff was sitting in my drawer for twenty years!

Treat yo’self

Don’t blow it on gas and groceries (unless you really need to). See this video clip (shown to me by Bos Organization) for inspiration.

Organizing too many toys

A quick video of Andy’s room. Before and After photos of our organizing session in La Canada-Flintridge.
2 organizers. 3 hours. 1 happy mom and 1 happy kid!

Music by Ingrid Michaelson “The Way I Am”

Help! There’s a ceiling fan on my dining room table!

There really is. Ceiling fan in a milk crate

There’s a mattress in my living room, propped up against the couch. There’s a filing cabinet out on my front porch and a rug rolled up against the wall of my bedroom.

It’s all-out-MAYHEM! And it is making me mental.

This fall we had a studio built out back for Jeff so that the kids can spread out into their own rooms. But of course the old indoor studio needs to be cleaned and re-painted with some appropriate 9-year-old girl colors before Darla will move in there. So, we are spending our spare time (lots of that around the holidays, right?!) painting her room and accepting incoming Christmas presents like rugs, bed frames, and desks.

Only we have no place to put it all until the room is ready! OH-EM-GEEE going crazy over HEEEEERE!

Every time I go to work on someone else’s clutter in these last few weeks I feel so jealous. My little elves and I swoop in and organize someone else’s office space so I can come home to office supplies in the BATH TUB?! Where is the justice? I can’t wait to post some after pictures of this whole business. Stay tuned.

My front porch AHHH!

My front porch AHHH!

Until then, I give you:

Organizing Kids’ Craft Supplies

Craft supplies are unruly in any situation. But kids’ craft supplies are doubly frustrating. How do you keep them organized? It’s like herding cats!

I don’t recommend storing small parts in a cavernous cabinet. That is like writing Disorder an invitation to your breakfast table. However, in the case of this client’s kitchen, the cabinet was our only option. The plus side is the cabinet is low, so the kids can access it themselves and therefore PUT AWAY THEIR OWN SUPPLIES. Bingo!

TCall a professional organizerhis was the crafting cabinet after it had been purged of excess projects and dried up glue bottles but before she called in the pros.

Nothing was removed from the scene for these photos people. This is real Before and After.

Before and After Kim Craig that is! (She is one of my most favorite assistants!) So while I worked with the mom on the files in her office, Kim spent a little while on the kids’ office. And this is what we ended up with: Get Organized Already

I got these white stackable containers that I love for kids. They have no lids (#1 rule for kids cleaning up) and yet, they stack! You just flip the handles in and that creates the shelf where the next one stacks on top.

As I mentioned before, these cabinets are deep. In order to keep things from getting pushed back into oblivion, we put empty old containers back there as place holders. We didn’t store anything behind what you see. Especially for kids, having to move one thing to get to another, or move something in order to put your stuff away is just too much. You just want one row of visible supplies.

What do you think? Do you want some help with your craft supplies? Do you want someone with whom to commiserate about how kids don’t clean up?

Call Get Organized Already today!

Organizing a linen closet in 15 minutes

The division of labor debate is one of the most common problems running through every live-together relationship I have ever come across. How do couple and multiple roommates decide: Who does the dishes? Who cleans the refrigerator? Who pays the bills? Who schedules social activities for the house?

There are so many things I’m tempted to say right now about division of labor and thankfulness and general integrity. But, this post is merely about one woman’s attempt to help her family succeed in helping her.

Lisa has 3 kids, a dog, a hyper husband, and mad gardening skills. She is also one of those amazing people who take on projects like painting the dining room in a day. By herself. And she pulls it off beautifully.

I have helped her with some ideas in the past, organizing and staging her home office. But this idea she says she got from my set-up at an estate sale I did last year.

The problem at hand arose when her loving husband was doing his best to help her change the sheets on the 4 beds in regular use in their home. (That seems like a lot of beds to me. I feel so wimpy when I see what Lisa accomplishes regularly. But I digress.) This scene climaxed when husband could not figure out which sheets were which and took most of the folded linens in the closet out only to shove them back in willy-nilly (oh, NO he di-n’t!!) all the while yelling down the stairs, “THE BLUE ONES??? I DON’T SEE WHICH ONES! THE STRIPES?”

That was it. The next day, Lisa got out the handy blue tape and labeled those bad boys.

Organizing linen closet

One Happy Lady

organizing linens

One Organized Linen Closet

Here’s the result: one happy lady. And one organized linen closet.

It only took about 12 minutes to fold the sheets back (ahem) and 3 minutes to label the shelves. Now whoever want to help Lisa make the beds can figure it out no problem.

Martial bliss is so eeEeasy when you are organized.