One professional organizer will help you conquer chaos and say bye-bye to that best little hoarder house in Texas


Tonia Tomlin, pictured opposite, can turn any space from disaster to delightful as she did with this garage and the closet on page 23. (Photos courtesy of Sorted Out)

By Jef Tingley


Tonia Tomlin

Whether you are the type who organizes the underwear drawer in ascending order from boxer to bikini brief or the person who grabs the closest pair of undies from that yet-to-be-folded pile of laundry, chances are there’s a certain amount of clutter in your life. It’s unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to be your undoing.

Tonia Tomlin is here to help you with that. With some major cred as the president of the North Texas-based organization company Sorted Out and featured contributor to the HGTV show Mission Organization and to Martha Stewart’s Fine Living Network, Tomlin has this down pat.

The good news is that getting organized isn’t inherent – it can be learned. But Tomlin is quick to add that it takes lifestyle change and commitment to make that happen.

“I look at disorganization like this: Would you hire someone to save you money and time to file your taxes? Would you hire someone to help you maintain your workout regimen? What is your time worth? The cost and benefit has to make sense for the amount of time you are willing to spend on fixing your disorganization,” she says. “I tell clients to go ahead and make baby steps to get out of the chaos and when they are truly ready to make an investment in their time to contact [a professional].”

For many people, the biggest challenge of living clutter-free is where to begin. Tomlin recommends starting big to get the momentum going.

“Every person has his or her clutter confessions,” she says. “I often suggest clients start in a space that bothers them the most. Start where you can also see the biggest visual change. Oftentimes if we see visual changes, we feel a sense of accomplishment so we will be motivated to continue the process.”

Tomlin advises to treat our homes and our lives more like a business when it comes to getting sorted out.

“I recommend coming up with an organization goal list, then prioritizing projects based on what the disorganization is costing them,” she says. “Start with the largest time-waster and the biggest money-sucker. For some people, this could be lost paper; for some it could be supplies within their company or practice.”Get-organized-2-

Being clutter-free can have larger implications than a picturesque shoe closet or a pantry straight out of a Real Simple photo spread, too. Organization can be used to define spaces such as backyards or outdoor areas. For this, Tomlin has a three-point system: create a plan; determine what needs to be stored where; and find a storage option that makes sense for you.

“After creating your plan, decide which area you are going to focus on first, then implement each zone by category and start small,” says Tomlin. “I have organized a lot of outdoor areas, and we start with an inventory of items to see what is the best fit [then] come up with storage shed solutions for gardening tools to outdoor living areas supplies.”

But be it cleaning up the interior, the exterior or the office, one thing remains consistent for creating that clutter-free space: maintaining a routine.

“Whether it’s maintaining your area once a week or once a month. Once you have a system put into place, you must have a game plan put together to keep the order in that area,” she says.

Now that you are armed with all the right ways to get started, the decision is yours: Either begin the organization process yourself or call in a professional while you catch up on the latest episodes of “Hoarders.” The change begins at home and with you.

Visit for more organizational tips.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 20, 2012.