Issue: Winter 2016

Get Organized !

As the end of the year rolls around, we think about New Year’s resolutions. Most likely your list may include: Lose weight and get organized.  Discover Hollywood asked Standolyn Robertson, Certified Professional Organizer, and A&E’s Hoarders consultant for some advice.

In our society it is so easy to accumulate stuff that it can become overwhelming. We’re constantly being tempted—bargains galore, tempting infomercials, the ease of internet buying and even our friends and family are buying or giving us things.

We buy what we need and what we don’t need. Soon closets and drawers are stuffed and overflowing. People think most of the things are old and useless, but you’d be surprised how much I see that is new with price tags still attached. We buy, it doesn’t fit, the color isn’t right, but we don’t take the time to return the item. Soon we’re busting at the seams. 

Overwhelm gets in the way of our yearning to get organized. With no plan and an unrealistic expectation of the time it takes, we set ourselves up for failure. We make promises to ourselves that we can’t keep. Then we just give up and let disorganization take over.

We create complicated systems. We buy bins, file folders, books on how to do it...but you don’t need elaborate equipment if you keep it simple and tailor a system to who and what you are. Maybe you just need a shoebox and a marker to scribble “Receipts” or “Keep for Taxes”.

People tend to lay things down “just for now” thinking they’ll take care of it later, but that doesn’t happen. Make it easy, take things step-by step. Putting something away is easy; you just do it and the easiest system is to have a place—a ‘home’—for everything. We all know that milk belongs in the refrigerator and it usually gets put back in its place. Yes, there is a consequence but the logic is clear. Everyone knows that the home for the milk is the fridge.

Rather than tackle the entire room, start with a drawer, a cupboard or the catch-all dining room table. By taking small steps, it’s less daunting. Commit to a few hours a week rather than tearing the room apart then realizing there’s no time left to put it back together again.

Making decisions on what to keep and toss isn’t easy but you can never go wrong keeping things you love, that bring you joy and that you use. People tend to keep things—like gifts—because they think that if they let the item go, they’re letting go of the love from that person. But if you donate or give away the item, you can pass the love along.

Donating is always a good way to let go of things, especially if you think of the good you’ll do. The item can be sold, refurbished or given to someone truly in need. It will bring warmth and comfort, add to self-esteem and you’ll be making a real difference in someone’s life.

If your house is truly organized it doesn’t mean it won’t get messy again. Traditional organizing solutions may not work for everyone. Make it fun and get just as creative with your solutions to stay organized as you do in other areas of your life. Your reward will be space to relax and enjoy your surroundings without the nagging thought “I’ve got to get organized!”

If, however, you know you need a professional, ask yourself these 10 questions:


1. Why do I want to get organized now?

2. What am I postponing until I get organized?

3. What is my disorganization costing me?

4. Why should I hire a professional organizer and not

   do this on my own?

5. Do I understand how a professional organizer differs

   from a decorator? A cleaning service? A therapist?

6. Am I open to someone coming into my personal

   space? Am I open to trying new systems and ideas?

7. Do I have a clear goal? Do I know what I want the

   organizer to do?

8. Am I doing this for myself, or am I responding to

   outside pressure from family or co-workers?

9. What support do I have in place to ensure long-term


10. Do I believe in the potential for change in my life?


Think of the professional organizer as a project manager. And, an emphatic “No”, you are not off the hook when you hire one. They will work with you to get the job done. Find yourself someone you’re comfortable with, someone who’s certified. Remember you are opening your home and your life to this person. Your personality and lifestyle will be taken into consideration to develop a plan and systems that work for you—not your organizer. It’s a serious business and you want someone who knows the process.

Ultimately, you not only want to get organized, you want it to stay that way. That’s when you know the job got done and was worth the investment in time and money.

The benefits are many and with an organized home and kitchen, you’ll eat better, feel better about yourself and be healthier and may even get to your other New Year’s resolution. DH