Ask the Organizer, Volume 3

Each week, Regina Leeds, leader of the Get Organized Community Challenge®, will be answering the most popular questions that she didn't have time to answer in her weekly chat.

Question: How do you rate the suggestions for closet organization on the Boards this week?

Regina: I think they are fantastic! You know, if organizing is going to be creative and fun, you can’t be afraid to put on your thinking cap and consider how many ways a problem can be solved. Everyone has been doing that and the ideas are resourceful, helpful and clever. With that said, however, I do want to add one word of caution.

We aren’t just physically getting organized in this Challenge. We have made a commitment to go deep inside and fearlessly face the causes for our chaos. At the same time, we are in quest of a ‘Zen experience.’ That’s basically the mysterious way of saying, we want to be comforted and soothed by the environments we create. We want visual, physical peace to induce inner peace. I think we’re all on the same page about this aspect of the challenge.

Every instruction on the closet set-up list is there for a reason. For example, I asked you to have your clothing face the same direction. I suggested you color-code your related items and use the same type and color hangar. All of this is designed specifically to create the Zen experience. Now, if I gaze into your closet and see a cacophony of boxes and containers, I’m not going to be filled with peace. I’m going to have the same mental confusion stirred up that was present when I started. Be careful not to replace one type of chaos for another.

Question: What if my closet has no doors?

Regina: Why does it need doors? It’s going to be beautiful! You’ll be the envy of everyone who gets to see the interior of your closet.

Question: Does this Zen experience cost a lot of money?

Regina: It absolutely does not have to cost a lot of money. I tell my clients what products I think they need and then I ask for a budget. I really don’t feel, for example, that two braces on a wall with a piece of lumber are extravagant additions to a closet. We’re talking lumberyard basics, not exotic wood from the Orient. In fact, this particular solution to the lack of space issue will do more than add to the function of your closet. If you own your home, it will be a solid feature when you go to sell. What would impress you as a buyer? An extra shelf for storage or a lot of wasted space?

I’d like to repeat something else I’ve mentioned on the boards. I think good products hold up over time and are able to adapt to new uses. This is an important point because we’ll be discussing products for the rest of the challenge and I want you keep an open mind. Please stay away, for example, from cheap, flimsy closet systems that you can buy over the counter. They cause more grief than pleasure. Large, heavy duty plastic containers with wheels and lids can store toys today and holiday decorations when the kids are grown.

Question: Do you think that you can become obsessive about organization?

Regina: Absolutely! We want to create peace and order in our homes and then enjoy it, not obsessively continue in a never-ending quest for perfection. Balance is the watchword for this challenge and for our lives. If you have a compulsive, addictive personality or are a control freak, this is a wonderful time to work on keeping those tendencies under control. Enjoy this process. Make it fun for your family. I caution people in my book not to make getting organized a new cause for battle in the home or office.

Question: How do you find a reputable professional organizer?

Regina: I’d try these sources:

  • Talk to friends because a personal recommendation is the best
  • Call the local Chamber of Commerce
  • Check out the local paper and the phone book.

I’d have a series of questions for the folks I called. I think two or three organizers would be enough to interview. For example:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • Do you have a specialty? (closets, file systems, moving etc..)
  • How much do you charge?
  • Is there a minimum number of hours?
  • Can I see your client list?
  • Do you have a specific style or philosophy you could describe to me?

I sometimes talk to people for over an hour before they book me. My business has always been by personal referral only. Questions like these, will enable you to know immediately who is the right person for you. By the way, if you live in Los Angeles or New York, please remember that I service both cities regularly and would be delighted to speak with you. I also travel extensively so, check my web site ( periodically to see if I’m coming to your area.

Next week, for example, I’m going to be in Denver as I mentioned on the boards. I’m giving a public talk on Friday, the 9th at the Mile Hi Church of Religious Science and teaching a full workshop the next day. The cost is minimal so, if you’re in the area, let’s have a group photo taken to post!

See Volume 1 of Ask the Organizer.

See Volume 2 of Ask the Organizer

Do you have questions for Regina? Stop by the Get Organized Message Board -- she often checks in there to answer questions, and the other iVillager who visit the board are more than happy to help!

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