Dealing with clutter, trying to improve your productivity, and organizing your home & office are universal challenges. As a ‘do it yourselfer’, you know that to become more organizing, you need to emulate strategies that professional organizers use with their clients. 

I want to help with Get Organized like a PROfessional and what better way to do that than to give you access to some of the best organizing advice & tips that professional organizers around the world have to offer. 

Background on the survey:

I connected with 45 professional organizing colleagues from 6 countries (including 29 US cities) to find out what types of organizing advice they offer to clients. The result is a list of effective tips and tools that will help you get organized.

I received so much great organizing advice, that I have grouped these tips into several posts. I’ve included those links for you at the bottom of this post.

Dana Mitchell – Organize DIY

Location:  USA – Atlanta, Georgia
Organizing Specialty: Online Organizing Resource

Shopping seems to be the biggest challenge for those of us trying to reduce our ‘stuff’.   If you have your eye on something new to bring into your home, STOP and Ask Yourself these questions:

  • Is this a future garage sale item?
  • Will I use this in a month, 6 months or a year?
  • Do I have something else that accomplishes the same thing?
  • What’s the worst thing that can happen if you let go of this item and don’t buy it today?
  • Can I wait and purchase this next week? If so, you may really not need it.
  • Is this a future garage sale item?
  • Will I use this in a month, 6 months or a year?
  • Do I have something else that accomplishes the same thing?
  • What’s the worst thing that can happen if you let go of this item and don’t buy it today?
  • Can I wait and purchase this next week? If so, you may really not need it.

Susanne Thiebe – LessMess

Location: Australia – Sydney
Organizing Specialty: Residential & Home Organizing

Always unpack the dishwasher.  Treat your dishwasher like a cupboard for dirty dishes, not clean ones! This will enable you to ALWAYS put your dishes away and not have them pile in the sink or on the benchtop!

Ana Carolina Jarolavsky, CPO® – Organização Residencial

Location: Brazil, São Paulo – SP
Organizing Specialty: Moving

My most effective organizing tool is to put the pants on infant hangers, so they do not “walk “back and forth on the hanger. These small infant or baby hangers are the width of the pant leg and will help to prevent the pants from slipping. In addition, you will gain a great space underneath your clothes for extra box storage.

Andrea Wassilewsky Caetano – Wellbeing

Location: Brazil, São Paulo – SP
Organizing Specialty: Moving and Residential Organizing

The best tip for my clients as a professional organizer is to start small when their house is too messy and they are lost. I interview them and I figure out which place in the house bothers them a lot. So I start there so they can see the results and the difference very quickly.

Tracey Foulkes – Get Organised

Location: South Africa & Ireland
Organizing Specialty: Business Productivity (time – space – life)
Group training and Motivational speaking

Organisation starts from inside: Instead of limiting myself by a barrage of excuses & focusing on all the reasons I can’t change the things that aren’t working, I ask “what can I do differently?

Judy Hennessy – Room for Improvement

Location:  United Kingdom, Yorkshire
Organizing Specialty:  Residential and home office de-cluttering and organising

Here in the UK our houses are generally pretty small and this means that even a relatively small amount of clutter can soon become over-whelming. I try to get my clients into good habits by using the ‘little and often’ principle applied to de-cluttering.

My key tip is to use very small amounts of time to quickly return as many items to where they belong or to do small tasks such as wiping a surface or putting old newspapers into the recycling bin.

I advise using the advert breaks in a TV programme or the length of time a kettle takes to boil. These periods of just a few minutes can become the focus of a lot of concentrated activity which, if done regularly, will have an impact without taking the client away from something more attractive to them.

Jana Hartwell, CPO® – Sensible Organizing Solutions, Inc. (SOS)

Location:  USA – San Diego (El Cajon), California
Organizing Specialty:  Corporate & Residential

Once your space is organized, your project is not finished. Everyone who uses that space must pick-up/put-away items daily in order to keep it organized. Remember… organizing is not an event, it’s a process. If it becomes evident that you and/or all using the organized space are slow at developing the new habit of putting things back into their designated homes immediately after using them, there is no shame in hiring your organizer to visit regularly so that your space is reasonably maintained. If someone doesn’t take responsibility for the upkeep, you can expect any organized space to become cluttered again. It is okay (and smart) to delegate what you do not enjoy doing to someone who will enjoy doing it.

Mary Lynne Murray, CPO®, CPO-CD® – It’s About Time

Location:  USA – Walnut Creek, California
Organizing Specialty:  Boomers, seniors and heirs of the chronically disorganized

Too much stuff is common for boomers and seniors who’ve lived a long life and not moved in many years. The process of making decision after decision can be daunting and exhausting.  When the logical, intellectual approach does not help, notice your physical response to the item. Take note of your body – does it tense or relax with this item?

To help in the process, two questions to help you decide:

  • Would I buy this today?
  • What is the worst thing that can happen if I discard this?
  • Would I buy this today?
  • What is the worst thing that can happen if I discard this?

Monica Ricci, CPO® – Catalyst Organizing LLC

Location:  USA – Atlanta, Georgia
Organizing Specialty:  Personal Productivity

My tip in the residential arena, I’d have to say it’s a toss-up between the ELFA shelving system from The Container Store or lazy susans. 

Maureen Nuccitelli – Ask The Organizing Diva

Location: USA – Boston, Massachusetts
Organizing Specialty: Clothes & closets organizing and kitchen organizing

Most organizers say that “less is more” but there are a couple of instances where “more is more”. And here is one of those instances.  Have a pair of scissors in every room and in your car. In this way you can:

  1. clip an article out of a magazine or newspaper and then recycle said magazine or newspaper (not leave it hanging around and forgotten)
  2. cut off those tags and wear that new item of clothing or accessory (yeh!)
  3. cut off a loose thread from fabric (instead of pulling it and making it snag)
  4. cut open all those hard-to-open plastic packaging (otherwise impossible to open)
  5. neatly open food packages (so they can be neatly rolled and clipped afterward)
  6. cut open shipped packages (instead of trying to rip through the packing tape)
  7. trim back houseplants (pruning actually makes the plants grow healthier)
  8. snip herbs out of garden (instead of ripping them out of the soil)
  9. Ok and while you’re there putting scissors in every room put a pen or pencil in there too.
  1. clip an article out of a magazine or newspaper and then recycle said magazine or newspaper (not leave it hanging around and forgotten)
  2. cut off those tags and wear that new item of clothing or accessory (yeh!)
  3. cut off a loose thread from fabric (instead of pulling it and making it snag)
  4. cut open all those hard-to-open plastic packaging (otherwise impossible to open)
  5. neatly open food packages (so they can be neatly rolled and clipped afterward)
  6. cut open shipped packages (instead of trying to rip through the packing tape)
  7. trim back houseplants (pruning actually makes the plants grow healthier)
  8. snip herbs out of garden (instead of ripping them out of the soil)
  9. Ok and while you’re there putting scissors in every room put a pen or pencil in there too.

Karen Buschini – In Its Place Organizing

Location:  USA – Boston, Massachusetts
Organizing Specialty: Residential Organizing

It’s best for clients not to purchase any organizing items before a session.  Items need to be sorted and purged first. Only then can we know how many and what type of organizing items to purchase. And always remember your ABC’s: Always Buy Clear!

Tracy Hoth – Simply Squared Away

Locations: USA – Kansas City, Missouri
Organized Specialty:  Residential Organizing & Speaking

Instead of thinking, “Where should I put this item?” ask yourself, “Could I live without this item?” Try to get rid of things BEFORE you try to find homes for them. It makes organizing easier. I’ve noticed my clients automatically think about where they are going to put things instead of asking, “Do I use this? Love this? Want this?

Betsy Miller – 2B Organized

Location: USA – Springfield, Missouri
Organizing Specialty:  Residential, Seminars & Speaking Engagements,
Franchise Opportunities Available!

Less is more.  I try to get my clients to see that quality is more important that quantity.  Too much stuff is not how we roll at 2B Organized!

Hazel Thornton – Organized For Life

Creator of the “Org4Life Clutter Flow Chart Collection”
Location: USA – Albuquerque, New Mexico
Organizing Specialty: Helping people who are situationally
disorganized get back on track.

Make conscious decisions about your stuff. Is it clutter? If so, how can I part with it (trash, recycle, donate, gift, sell)? If it’s something I use, love and need/want to keep, how can I store it in an organized manner and limit the amount I accumulate? For a visual resource to help you, see my Clutter Flow Chart Collection on my website.

Leslie Josel, COC® – Order Out of Chaos

Location: USA – Larchmont, New York
Organizing Specialty: Chronic Disorganization and Student Organizing

My favorite organizing tip is to label everything! I tell my families (especially ones who have children with ADHD) that when you label everything, it takes the guess work out of where things are and allows for everything to have a home, but more importantly, it makes putting things away a snap. And that is key!

Summary:

After connecting with organizers from around the world, my take away is that we may speak different languages, live in different time zones, and have varied backgrounds, but some things remain the same. We are all trying to find answers to these universal organizing questions of how to control clutter, mange our time, and reduce the amount of “stuff” we have around us.

Getting and staying organized can be fun, satisfying and energizing, but depending on your organizing dilemmas, can also be frustrating, overwhelming, and isolating.

You aren’t alone in this quest for answers.  In fact, it’s more apparent to me after reading this organizing advice from around the world, that tips that work for one person, really CAN work for others. However, don’t be afaid to tweak these tips to suit your personal needs.  I hope you found some awesome gems in the list to help you on your personal organizing journey.

Want more Organizing Advice?

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