User-friendly organizing book to try

The Declutter Workbook

I was checking out this book with Ashley Stanfield, a colleague of mine, at our last NAPO meeting. (NAPO=National Association of Professional Organizers) We both thought it was great. So great that she took it home to put it to use in her own life.

The book is comprised of simple lists, small bits of reading, and very practical stuff in general. Feng Shui is a valid, helpful practice. Still, you don’t have to be into it to get some help from this book.

Here’s the link to buy the book The Declutter Workbook on Amazon. But, you know I recommend you get it from the library, don’t you?!

Happy Organizing!



Boss Lady Organizer at Get Organized Already


Dishes and Laundry: Where is the Type A love?

dirty dishesNo matter how much you eat out and no matter how many items you send to the dry-cleaners, there will never, ever be a shortage of dishes and laundry.

Some people can find a little smidge of joy in washing the dishes or clothes.  Some people can find a sense of order in putting them away.  But, seldom do you find the homemaker who exclaims, “I love laundry.”  Or “I love doing dishes!”

I’m not trying to love the chores. But, I’ve been thinking of ways to find some joy in the processes since, face it, the processes are going to be with me until I die.  My man is never going to stay on top of the laundry or the dishes up to my standards. Sure, they will eventually get done if he is left in charge.  But, I will yell and throw things because of the back log.  And that isn’t pretty.  I’d rather wash the piles myself.  And that, believe it or not, is where the joy starts.

Once I realize that I am doing to laundry because I, Nonnahs, don’t want the pile-up and I’m doing the dishes because I can’t stand to wake up to a sink of filth and stinky, crusty plates, then I can at least let go of the anger toward the task. Instead of feeling frustrated that someone else isn’t doing this for me, I feel productive that I am making my house feel more comfortable– for ME. This is something nice I am doing for myself.

(There are those of you reading this who could give a wooden nickel if your sink is clean.  To you, I apologize.  I know there are motivating factors that someone could point out to help you get through the daily cleaning grind. That would be a different article altogether. This entry is for people who lean toward order and probably fold their towels. And their napkins. And maybe even their underwear.)

Another thing for Type A people to keep in mind when trying to enjoy our menial household chores is that they don’t have to be done before we play. I am so guilty of this Work Before Play mentality. Are you? It is a specifically American phenomenon and it is very detrimental to one’s happiness. If I can’t change my bad attitude, then I would be better served to change activities. A clutter-free bedroom is not worth spraying my roommate with venom!

More joyful ideas: The chemicals in dish soap and laundry detergent often smell yummy. Take a minute to smell them.  Buy a flavor you really like. When the sheets come out of the dryer, take a minute to pretend you are in a commercial and rub their softness on your cheek.  It’s stupid enough to be funny. But once you smile, your attitude –POOF–has improved.

Put on some good music, a book, or podcast while you are folding, scrubbing, or loading.  That is simple but very effective.

And of course, the best cure in the world for overcoming the washing blues is to enlist a helper. It can’t be just any helper though. It must be a willing helper with whom you could chat while working. A resentful helper is poisonous and should be fired immediately.

Once you can find joy in doing the dishes, you have arrived my friend.  The Buddhist monks got nothin’ on you!  Once you can smile while you fold laundry, why then you are ready to tackle changing a poopy diaper in public with grace.  (And for that you may need to actually talk to a monk, because I am not your girl.)

Organized within an inch of its life

Call Get Organized Already for some help with your organizing projects today! 323.230.0297

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!

Organize your drawers to your comfort level

Don’t get me wrong, it is VERY important to organize your drawers. (After all, I don’t want anyone revoking my NAPO* status!) When it comes to your clothes it is imperative to know what you have and to wear it–to actually put on the clothes in your drawers.

This as opposed to keeping clothes you don’t love around with the hope that one day in the future you will want to put them on. That is silly nonsense.

Keeping things that are too small is only making you feel fat and guilty. Clothes are supposed to make you feel fabulous and confident.

I digress.

While it is important to organize your drawers, it is important to understand that organization looks different to everyone.

Get Organized Already

This photo (left) is the wardrobe of a boy in grade school. He doesn’t care if his clothes are ever folded. So, his mom stopped folding them. GOLD STAR FOR MOM! For some mother’s this would never fly. But, if you want to teach your children to be independent, the big trick is to relax your standards a little bit. If your kids put away their own clothes, this may be the result. A relatively small price to pay for knocking one more chore off of your list FOR-EV-A!

To the right is the t-shirt drawer of a pretty organized guy and I wouldn’t recommend this method unless you are a diligent folder of your clothes. The drawer is only a little deeper than most. This tidy look takes only a few extra seconds to file folded shirts away instead of putting them on top of a pile in the drawer.

(note: His socks on the side don’t get matched–nothing to get too upset about in my opinion.)

He can see every t-shirt in there and remember to wear a lot more of them this way. I bet you have a rad Def Leopard t-shirt hiding in your drawer that you have forgotten!

***Organizer Bonus Tips:

  • Your drawers are your business. Don’t make them look like a magazine if that means you will be disappointed in yourself for not keeping it up after a few months.
  • Go through drawers twice a year to do a seasonal swap-eroony and thin them out during the process.
  • Or, stick to the “one in—one out” rule and you’ll be good to go all year long.

Need help with your drawers, closets, or entire house? Call Nonnahs today and Get Organized Already will swoop to your rescue!


*NAPO= National Association of Professional Organizers

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.

Organizing at home: The cobbler’s children

I may be a professional organizer, but most of the time my back yard looks like “Sanford and Son”. Everyone has a room–a catch-all, an embarrassment. For me it’s our lack of garage and resulting junk-heaps of old lumber, paint cans, and debris in the back yard.
My client for today called me yesterday to move our appointment to next week. As soon as we hung up I knew–this was my chance to do some work at my own house. Walkin’ the talk. Livin’ the life. Kill me now. I have to clean the back yard.
I mentally blocked off my morning since it was supposed to be 92 degrees today. And here is how it went down, no editing allowed because as it turns out, being a professional doesn’t make organizing one’s own backyard any better or easier. You’ll see…

Step 1: Drink a lot of water and eat a good, protein-rich breakfast. This is not a joke, people. If you are planning to do some organizing, first you need some brain food. The NYT says that making lots of decisions makes you crave sugar.

Step 2: Put on some sunscreen and gloves.  I found so many spiders including brown and black widows and their egg sacks.  eeew.


Step 3: Pick the task you are dreading the most and do it.  For me it was the trash cans. I haven’t cleaned those in 9.5 years.  (I told you this is un-edited!)  They were freshly emptied and still gross. Here is the spot where they usually live.  It needed some love as well. Before and after

Step 4: Do the other stuff on your list.  (You did make a list, right?  Even just a mental list of the 3-4 things you want to accomplish is a tremendous help.)  I raked and swept a bit; put all the tools in a tall, Rubbermaid trash can with a couple of small rain holes drilled into the bottom to prevent stagnant rain water; loaded up all of the lumber, tar paper, and other supplies I found around the yard from various projects to be donated; and finally

Step 5: I went to Habitat for Humanity.  This is the part of any organizing project that is the least likely to happen.  So, plan ahead.  Make sure you stop organizing in time to make it to the donation drop off, or at least in time to load up your car.

The bummer was, they didn’t take everything because it had been sitting outside for years.  ahem.  So, my next step was to call 311 for a bulk item pick up.  You can also request this online in Los Angeles.  The hunky sanitation guys come and whisk it all away like some kind of dream husband.

The good news is, someone has already picked up Zane’s old bike.  The bad news is, there is a lot of old lumber out in front of my house until next Tuesday.

3.5 hours of work later, with still more to do, I realized I should have hired some help.  Even just a college student to lift things and stand there to make sure I didn’t quit.  Clearing a big space is a lot of work!

 But, you knew that already.

Getting used to the obstruction: Clutter, clutter everywhere!

For reasons that don’t matter at all, I put a clothing rack in my living room a few days ago. I put it there temporarily and I put it in the least obtrusive place. At least I thought it was the least obtrusive. The rack is tall and partially obstructs a window.
Once it was in place the (very minimal) loss of natural light and the blocking of the window itself bothered me so much that I just stood there amazed at my annoyance. I talked myself down from the ledge remembering it was only going to be for 4-5 days. Geez! What an anal retentive basket case!
Now, its 4 days later and I don’t even notice the clothing rack.
How did this happen?
My house is pretty sparse, as you might imagine. So, for me to get used to a large object blocking the flow of light and energy and that once bugged the crap out of me in only 3-4 days is pretty amazing to me. Makes me wonder what other things I’ve gotten used to around the house. What else could be shifted to improve the feeling in each room? This is where it helps to bring in an objective eye.
An objective eye could be a photo lens. Sometime if you take a picture of your space and then look at that photo later you’ll be able to see the things in your house more critically.
An objective eye could be a good friend who has a gift for interior design. Ask them to give you come ideas. Or hire a pro.
Take a look around your house. What is blocking your light? What has been blocking a pathway for far, FAR longer than you intended it to? A suitcase that isn’t unpacked yet? A box from something that came in the mail last month? Something you mean to give to someone but you keep forgetting?

Handle it. Take this opportunity to handle it. Take the stupid item to the car for your friend so you’ll HAVE it when you see them next time. Unpack the suitcase.
Now how amazed are you at the space you just reclaimed for the health of your home?