Friday, April 30, 2010

A year ago on Helping you Organize

Now that I've been writing this blog for a year, I'm going to introduce a new type of post, the "a year ago" post. Unclutterer does this, as do some other organizing blogs, and I think it's a nice way to remind readers of the backlog of content that's available here.

So, last year at this time I was posting about:

Vicky and Jen's What Really Matters podcast featuring Monica Ricci - still one of my favorite resources for organizing inspiration.

My search for a label maker, only very recently acquired.

A review of the book Organizing for Your Brain Type by Lanna Nakone.

A rumination on the organizing challenges faced specifically by Angelinos.

And a list of reasons why one might want to hire a professional organizer.

Happy reading!

Creative Commons line drawing from Flickr posted by bradley j
Lelah Baker-Rabe is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. To discuss your organizing needs, call her at 818.269.6671 or email 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Reviewed: Clutter Busting

I just finished the 2009 book by Brooks Palmer, Clutter Busting. The book's subtitle is Letting Go of What's Holding You Back and that is the book's essential premise. Palmer, using anecdotes culled from his "clutter busting" professional organizer practice, explains how important it is to let things go. People are sacred, he reminds us, not things.

The content of the book is rather similar to Gail Blanke's Throw Out Fifty Things. Palmer, like Blanke, shows how mental clutter and our internal problems lead to our external clutter problems and our desire to hold onto stuff that no longer fits our life. What differentiates this book from other "get rid of everything you don't really use, need or love" books is the tone. Palmer is straightforward and direct with lines like "You are born with nothing, and you will die with nothing." He puts things in such a way so that even the most uncomfortable idea seems obvious to the reader, yet he does it in a nonjudgmental way. Instead of feeling guilty for buying stuff because you think it will make you happy, you feel refreshed and transformed at the possibility of being able to stop the cycle and change your life. I especially liked his reminder that we, as individuals, are enough to sustain us in life. Ourselves and our loved ones are what make life worthwhile, not a single thing that we own.

Brooks Palmer has a blog, called Clutter Busting with Brooks Palmer, that I think is required reading. His bio states that he is a stand up comedian, and from time to time reading his stuff I laugh out loud due to some terribly apt description, but for the most part the tone is calming, and encouragingly matter of fact. Of course, you don't need all that stuff that is cluttering up your living room. Of course, you are capable of letting it go and creating room for new joys and experiences to come into your life. Of course, you should pick up a copy of this book or borrow it from your local library (which is what I did.)

Lelah Baker-Rabe is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. To discuss your organizing needs, call her at 818.269.6671 or email 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Organizer's blog digest: Earth Day

From time to time I like to highlight great content found on other professional organizers' blogs. Here are some of the best recent posts on Earth Day, which is tomorrow, April 22.

Christie at SOS Organize gives some statistics on why junk mail is so bad for the environment, and advice on how to stop it from cluttering up your home.

Lorie at The Clutter Diet Blog exhorts us to dispose of hazardous waste properly, and to donate and recycle the waste that gets exposed when we clear clutter. She says "Organizing exposes a lot of waste in our own personal environments."We can all learn from that and try to make a conscious effort not to purchase items that are going to create a lot of waste in our own lives and for the Earth as a whole.

The topic of waste ties in to Abbie at Organizing-Life's recap of her packaging series, in which she examined everyday household items for wasteful packaging. Her conclusions and recommendations are well worth a read.

Vicky and Jen of the podcast What Really Matters post about compost. Composting is an easy and rewarding way to cut down on the amount of organic waste heading to landfills. If you live somewhere with access to a garden, you should compost.

If you want a whole avalanche of "green" themed blog posts, just check out this month's Professional Organizer's Blog Carnival, the topic of which is green organizing.

Creative commons Earth Day photo posted to Flickr by Beverly & Pack
Creative commons raw compost photo posted to Flickr by stevendepolo
Creative commons compost dirt photo posted to Flickr by wisemandarine

Lelah Baker-Rabe is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. To discuss your organizing needs, call her at 818.269.6671 or email 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Professional organizer headshots

I recently had headshots taken for my website and online avatars by an up-and-coming local photographer named Sean Paul Franget. I had never been in a photo shoot before, and had a grand time getting my picture taken with lots of lights shining on me and a very thoughtful photographer who directed my pose and facial expression. The results were awesome - you can see my new avatar to the right. Here are a couple of my favorites from the shoot (not color corrected for the web), which I'm looking forward to using to promote myself and my business as a professional organizer.

Sean's headshot business, based in Burbank, is called Spotlight Headshots. He also does interior design photography and art.

Lelah Baker-Rabe is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. To discuss your organizing needs, call her at 818.269.6671 or email 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blog anniversary and gift registry tips

Tomorrow marks a year since I started working on this blog. I find that really hard to wrap my head around, since I clearly remember writing my first tentative post, not sure that I would be able to sustain a blog solely about organizing for very long. Of course, soon after the list of potential blog posts grew exponentially, and I feel like I haven't even made a dent!

On another note, here are a few things I learned about registering for gifts during my recent experience getting married (besides the fact that I have very thoughtful and generous friends and family):

  • Registering for gifts does not solve the problem of getting duplicate gifts, nor does it banish unwanted off-registry gifts from turning up. But it does help with the above. And returning duplicates for store credit is simple, just...
  • Wait until you think the majority of the gifts have been given, then make a single trip to the store(s) where you registered and do all the returns in one go. You can then use the credit to buy things that haven't been bought off the registry: just make sure to remove them from the registry so late gift-givers won't send duplicates!
  • Find out if the stores you want to register at have a registry completion program. For instance, Crate and Barrel sends a certificate for 10% off anything left in your registry.
  • Avoid stores that don't have actual registries, but something similar, like a "wish list." Wish lists are a good way to get ideas for someone's birthday present, but for traditional events like weddings and showers, they confuse people.
  • Only register for things you actual want and will use (not to mention have a home for). This is an obvious rule to guard against clutter, but when you're receiving lots of gifts at once, it is especially important that you truly want each one.
  • Don't feel guilty about returning things. 
  • Keep a detailed list of who gave what, including their address for thank you notes, if possible. I'm using Bento to track the gift giver, what the gift exactly was, what registry it was from, if any, and if I've written a thank you note yet or not.
Which reminds me, I'm off to write some thank you notes!

 Lelah Baker-Rabe is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. To discuss your organizing needs, call her at 818.269.6671 or email