Important Information About Clearing

When someone is moving, or has moved, most of the time there are many items that are no longer wanted or needed. Things that people don’t want to bring to their new home. Things that family and friends don’t want either.

Anyone who has moved knows (or should know) that the house, whether owned or rented, has to be “cleared” before the new owners/renters take possession.

“Clearing” a property means that the house/premises have to be COMPLETELY clear. Every cabinet, cupboard, closet, drawer and room has to be empty! More importantly, there is usually a dead-line as to when the house/premises has to be empty (ie, close of escrow).

So, what do you do with the things that you no longer need or want?

The obvious answer is to donate or try to sell those items that are no longer wanted or needed. Unfortunately some of those items can’t be sold or donated either. Here’s a short list of some items that can’t (or shouldn’t) be donated:
-Anything that is stained/soiled
-Things that are broken or missing pieces
-Old Textbooks

Those items that can’t be donated are deemed trash. Obviously you can throw those things in the trash. But:
1. What if there is so much trash that it won’t all fit in the trash bins?
2. What if there are certain items that are so big (think mattress) that they can’t fit in the trash?
3. What if it’s too big or too heavy and you can’t get it to the trash?

All good questions!
The answer is… call us for help. Organizing Concepts and Designs will facilitate the entire process and make sure that the premises are completely empty and we will do timely. We work with a multitude of resources to make sure that the house will be completely clear in time for the keys to be turned over to the new owners/renters. Some of our resources are:
1. Donation companies
2. Trash removal/hauling companies
3. Shredding Companies
4. Consignment Stores
5. Auction Houses
6. Art Dealers
7. Cleaning Services

*NOTE: It is important to know that clearing and cleaning are entirely different. Clearing is making sure the house is empty. Cleaning is making sure the house is clean.

Organizing Concepts & Designs (aka OCD) – FAQ’s

1. What type of organizing do you specialize in?
Residential, Office, Relocations, Estate Sales & Clear Outs

2. Who is your primary target audience? Men & women between the ages of 40 and 80 (yes, 80!)

3. Describe your typical workday. There is no such thing. Each and every day brings something new and different. We work with different clients every day so one day it might be downsizing, another it might be working on a filing system and, another day might be packing or unpacking someone who is moving.

4. Why did you become a Professional Organizer? I wanted to utilize and combine the 25+ years of legal experience and managing law firms with my natural abilities to organize. Organizing Concepts & Designs (aka OCD) is the culmination of a lifetime of experience and a touch of OCD.

5. Describe your greatest success in this field. I think my greatest success is starting OC&D from an idea in my head to a successful 6 figure + business. I am now in my 7th year of the Professional Organizing business and there are 10 people that work with me on a regular basis. I have also created, manufactured and sell an organizing product which I currently sell on and of course on my website. Check out Stock-It-Pockets at

6. What do you find to be the most exciting part of your business? The most exciting part of my business is doing something different every day and making a difference in the lives of my clients.

7. What do you find to be the most frustrating part of your business? Trying to impart organizing skills and knowledge to my clients who really don’t want to learn how to organize or how to maintain the systems that we put in place for them. That said, we are always happy to maintain the systems for them.

8. Describe a successful, creative marketing technique that you use, or that you’ve used in the past. I use my monthly newsletter to keep in touch with friends, family, all current clients, all potential clients (those who have contacted me in the past but may not have hired me yet), everyone that I meet while networking and anyone that attends our estate sales.

9. Which one marketing technique have you found works the best for you? My favorite marketing technique is networking. I love getting out there and meeting people. I find that the personal connections lead to quality referrals. I also find other business that I use in my day to day operations which are invaluable (ie, trash removal services, shredding services, bookkeepers, etc.)

10. Which social media do you use for your business (if any) and how are you using it to market your business? I am on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Linkedin. I usually post once a month on each of these social media platforms by sharing my monthly newsletters. I also post if there’s some exciting news to share.

11. Every person interested in entering the professional organizing field is wondering, ‘Can I make enough money doing this? Definitely! If you work hard, continue to learn, market to the right audience for your business model and give your clients the best customer service at all times.

12. As an organizer, what professional organizing information or tools are you always on the lookout for? I typically look for organizing products that will contain things. From files to bins I’m always looking for different options as my clientele is so varied. Sometimes I need things for a closet, sometimes its for sporting goods to be stored in the garage and other times its for my creative clients that have tons of small items/crafts.

13. Looking ahead, what do you see as your greatest challenge? Hiring my team members as full time employees is definitely one of my goals and, at the moment, it is my greatest challenge. I currently have 10 people that work for me as independent contractors. I want to make sure to emphasize that we are ALL insured.

14. As a Professional Organizer, do you have a funny story to share? Not sure it’s funny, but it is a fun fact. I worked with clients, a man and woman, who were living amongst boxes for several years after they moved into their home as they didn’t know where to put anything. So, they basically just lived out of the boxes. They called me as they were feeling stuck and wanted me to “make their house a home”. I proceeded to unpack everything. They LOVED the results and were thrilled. I told them before I left when the job was finished that they could expect to feel a shift in the energy of their surroundings. Shortly thereafter, they decided to shoot a movie that they had written in their home as it was so well put together. The movie, an independent film, was ultimately bought by one of the studios.

15. What are the titles of the last three books you read (for business or entertainment)? I’m not a big reader unless I’m on vacation. But, I like to stay on top of what’s going on so I typically read Time Magazine and I read a lot of articles on the internet about business.

16. Do you have a case study that details a success you had with a particular client? This has happened many times so it’s not one case study in particular. I often work with people when they’ve decided to move from their home of many, many years into a smaller (or just another) residence. I help them downsize and de-clutter to get their home ready for sale so that their realtor can take photographs to market and ultimately sell their home. Through the downsizing/de-cluttering process I help find value in the things that they no longer want or need and facilitate the sale of those items. If there is not enough value I will facilitate getting those items donated and give the client a receipt for their taxes. We usually pack those things that they want to take with them as we go along to keep things moving along. I am there to make sure everything is under control on moving day and meet the movers at my client’s new residence to get them settled in for the night with any necessities (ie, we make sure that the beds are made, that they can have coffee/tea in the morning). We then return the next day to complete the unpacking process. One of the things that sets us apart is that we will always try, and often succeed, at offsetting the costs of our services with the sale of their unwanted belongings. Sometimes it’s through auction companies or consignment stores that we are affiliated with and sometimes its via an Estate Sale. So, basically, we facilitate the entire moving process from A to Z.

17. What is your best tip for people interested in becoming Professional Organizers? Educate yourself. Go to a NAPO meeting or conference to meet other like-minded individuals. Align yourself with another organizer who you can work with/assist or shadow to make sure that’s something that you truly want to pursue.

18. What is your contact information in case someone wants to reach you? Dina Newman, owner/founder of Organizing Concepts & Designs.
Phone: #310-560-5060

19. What other information do you wish for me to include with your interview? If anyone is interested in signing up for my monthly newsletters they can sign up on my website (see link above). I write about organizing, provide tips and sometimes post ‘how to’ videos.

Even Professional Organizers Need Help Getting Organized Sometimes

I was talking to a good friend of mine last week and told her that I was going to spend time over the weekend organizing my garage.  She was surprised that my garage wasn’t already organized.   I explained that EVERYONE hits a brick wall at some point in their life or in some place in their life when it comes to organizing.   For me (and my husband), it’s the garage.

Because our home is relatively small, we use our garage for storage.  After we take the time to organize the garage which is usually about once a year, we try our best to keep it that way.   Unfortunately, as time goes on, things slowly but surely get out of hand.  So, while not the perfect scenario, especially for someone as organized as I am, sometimes things just can’t be perfectly organized.   Perfection is hard to maintain so, as I tell all of my clients, getting organized isn’t about perfection.  Getting organized is about:

1.  Being able to find things when you need them (quickly)

2.  Getting rid of things you don’t need (regularly)

3.  Making sure that things are accessible (especially the items you need frequently)

4.  Making sure that things are where they make sense. For example, plates should be in the kitchen. You’re probably thinking… duh, where else would I put plates. Well, you’d be surprised at the crazy places where I find things when organizing for other people.

5.   Having a place for everything that you want to keep.   If it (whatever “it” is) doesn’t have a place it is considered clutter.  If you don’t have room perhaps its time to get rid of something else to make room.

BTW,  true to my organizing principles, everything does have a place (even in the garage), it’s just that sometimes things don’t find their way back to that place when it comes to the garage.

One more thing… because I have to share my space with my husband, it helps to get him involved in the process.  Neither of us enjoy spending a day organizing the garage when we can be doing something else (or nothing else as the case may be).  So, if he’s involved in the process, he’s more inclined to TRY to maintain the space, at least for awhile.

So, my point is that things don’t have to be perfect to be organized.  They just have to work for you and whoever else lives with you.

If you or your loved ones need help getting things organized or better organized and don’t know where to start, give us a call. WE’D LOVE TO HELP!

It’s Back to School Time

Back to School is a time for meeting new challenges and taking on new responsibilities.            School Room

The following 7 Tips will help you get organized & help you stay organized throughout the school year.


  1. Create a morning schedule and practice it at least once before the start of school.
  2. Try setting up a schedule in the morning that will help you stay organized. A sample schedule might be: Wake up and shower at 6:45, get dressed at 7:00, eat breakfast at 7:15, pack your lunch at 7:25, do your hair and makeup at 7:35 and leave at 7:50.
    b. Make sure you allow extra time in case something goes wrong (ex: you wake up late)
    c. Follow the same routine every day.
  3. Mornings in most households are busy. To leave yourself enough time make these part of your routine:
  4. Set out your clothes to save time the night before
  5. Also set out any sports equipment for the next day’s extra-curricular activites
  6. Pack your backpack the night before.
  7. In addition to homework, also place lunch money, papers that need to be signed, gym clothes, etc. along with the bag.


If we had more hours in the day, we’d just fill them up with more things to do so USE YOUR TIME WISELY
This is a point in your life when time management skills really become important
We are soooo busy and have so much to do and remember that anything we can DUMP on paper gets it out of our heads and on to paper where you can see it and be reminded.
Writing things down will help you remember so when transferring over to do’s you’re less likely to forget.
Prioritize your list so the important things get done. Whatever doesn’t get done today can be done another time. Just make sure it’s written down so you don’t forget.
You can take on more personal responsibility by getting yourself out of bed at a certain time every day by setting your own alarm—without any help from parents. You might also explore using your cell phone as a time management tool. If you have difficulty waking up with an alarm clock, try putting it on the other end of your room so you have to get out of bed to shut it off.


  1. Choose a daily planner with large weekly format over two pages.
  2. Tape a copy of class schedule to the first page and place copy of schedule on inside of locker.
  3. Be sure your full name and grade level are listed in your agenda.
  4. Use it EVERY DAY and make sure it has enough room for assignments, to do’s and note!
  5. Make sure it is kept in the same location at all times so you know where to find it. I keep mine with my keys.
  6. Do not underestimate the value of keeping an accurate planner
  7. Don’t’ forget to calendar homework assignments, exams, quizzes and project deadlines in your agenda as soon as you get them.
  8. Write the assignment on the day that it is due!
  9. Look ahead in your agenda to see what assignments are coming up.
  10. If it is a big project, then break it down into parts and make your own due dates for each part.
  11. Give yourself PLENTY of time to complete assignments because middle school work is new and different.
  12. Write in reminders one and two weeks before something is due.
  13. Even when you do not have an assignment, write: “NO HOMEWORK.” Once writing in the planner becomes habitual, the student will have few, if any, excuses for not completing an assignment.
  14. Have a special place for your agenda and carry it to every class and bring it home every day.
  15. At the end of every day, read your agenda before you leave the locker area or during your last class to be sure what you need to take home to study or complete homework.
  16. Another way to keep track of assignments is through a monthly calendar hung up at home.
  17. There are some assignments, such as science projects, that will be assigned further ahead of time.
  18. Break down the project into smaller projects that can be done along with the nightly homework, rather than a day or two.
  19. Of course, you can always use the calendar on your phone, computer, tablet.
  20. Make sure there’s a place for your “to do’s.
  21. Make sure there’s a place for your appointments (sports, music lessons)
  22. Make sure there’s a place to schedule your projects, quiz’s, tests


  1. Everything will be MUCH EASIER if you are organized.
  2. Don’t rely on your parents or teachers to keep you organized.
  3. Organization should be important both at home and at school.
  4. Organization is a skill that will help you not only in school but also in every aspect of your life.
  5. If you establish an organized routine, you will lay the foundation for academic success.
  6. There are many different ways to organize anything.
  7. Everyone organizes in his or her own way.
  8. You have to decide which way of organizing is easiest and best for YOU!

*NOTE: Some people like files, some people like piles: some people like things out so they can see them; some people like things put away.
III. The following are some tips and ideas that may help you decide how to BETTER organize your items for school.

     9.  At home, you should have a special place for all of your belongings, not just schoolwork. (Maybe it’s your desk or, it can be a shelf in your closet)

    10.  Always keep things in the same place so you know where to look for them and where to store them. For example, put your backpack by the door where you will see it on your way out.

    11.  To keep your space clutter free, put away your things when you finish using them.

12.  You can place books and folders in your backpack and secure them in a corner or on a shelf.

13.  A special container for supplies such as pens, pencils, markers and scissors will also be helpful



  1. Practice before you need to use it!
  2. Try it out several times to make sure the key works or that you remember the combination.
    b. Keep the combination written down somewhere where you can find it (ie, your wallet, purse, backpack) and not where anyone else would know what it is. The locker combination should be written down at home as well.
  3. Having a clean, organized locker is really important as well.
  4. Purchase extra shelves and locker organizers. The shelves will give you more space for books.
  5. Keep a magnetic pencil holder and a whiteboard on your locker door.
  6.  The magnetic pencil holder is for spare pens, pencils, highlighters, erasers, and supplies.
  7. The whiteboard is where you will write your assignments, classes, and memos on.
  8. How well you keep your locker arranged and decorated is up to you.
  9. The ultimate goal is to be organized so that you will know where your things are and where to put things away.
  10. Look over your list/agenda at your locker each day before leaving school to make sure that you bring home the correct books and notebooks.
  11. One big pitfall of being disorganized at school is forgetting a book at school.
  12. Getting in the habit of going over the assignment list at your locker will create a positive habit of always having the materials to do assignments.
  13. Don’t give out your locker combination.
  14. Keep your cell phone in your locker. HOWEVER, never leave it on because if it goes off, and a teacher happens to walk by, it can be confiscated or misconstrued by the authorities.
  15. Anything you don’t need at school, take home immediately


  1. It is a good idea to get your binders organized from the start of the school year.
  2. It’s always nice to start off on the right foot!
  3. Make sure everything has a place and stays in it! Math papers don’t belong in your English notebook.
  4. There are several different options and you should choose the one that you like best:
  5. You can have separate binders for each class and choose a different color or pattern for each subject.\
  6. Purchase dividers for each binder and label a section for class work, homework, notes and other sections as needed.
  7. The binder should include at least one two-pocket folder to keep handouts and other items that the student will have to remove from the binder.
  8. For important handouts such as a syllabus, use sheet protectors to preserve these items.
  9.  Or, you can: Color-code notebooks and/or book covers by subject area.
  10.  Keep the color-coding for the subjects the same every year.
  11. It is easier to remember which subject is which color, and it saves money and the environment because you might be able to reuse items.
  12. Get covers that are diverse in design or color so that you eliminate grabbing the wrong book or folder by mistake.
  13.  Have a special folder or place for homework and for notes to your parents. Carry this folder to all classes and home every day.
  14. You can also use an expanding folder with 6 or more dividers in it to keep your homework or anything important in each section according to your class.
  15. Have a separate project folder to keep all your project information and papers together in one place
  16. Keep binders and folders organized.
  17. Take your folders home periodically and clean them out.
  18. Keep papers in their corresponding notebook at all times. It will make things so much easier. You won’t have to be worried on the way home about which binder something is in
  19. Many schools or teachers will require you to have a binder for their class and even schedule “notebook checks” where they make sure that you have all your papers in the right places in your binder
  20. Keep your books and binders for the same class together so that they are easy to grab. .


Always do your homework
Set a designated time to do all of your homework

Limit distractions for concentration purposes until study time is over (Close the door, turn off the tv, cell phone)

Prioritize your assignments

One thing to keep in mind is to work on tomorrow first!

Some assignments are given a day or two before they are due. But, be sure if time allows, that they do everything on the first night assigned. For instance, if on Monday, one assignment is given in math that is due Tuesday and a short composition in English due Wednesday, have them do both. Because, on Tuesday, they could get several more assignments due Wednesday- Monday was a light day, and there would have been time. If you wait another day, you face the possibility of being inundated with more work!

Do your most difficult homework assignment first so you can get the hard stuff out of the way.

Designate a study space, preferably a clean and well lit area

If you have sports or other extra-curricular activities that might conflict with your homework schedule, plan accordingly

Keep completed homework assignments in the inside front pocket of the binder for that subject so you will always know where to find it.

When you’re done with your homework, place it in your backpack in an area by the door

You don’t want to lose homework and possibly suffer a lower grade because you can’t find work to submit to your teachers

Always be prepared.

Have extra sharpened pencils on hand as well as a water bottle.

Keep phone numbers of two people in each class so you can call them to get information about homework assignments.

Visit your teachers’ websites to check homework assignments.

Bottom line is if you’re organized, it will make your life much easier!

Donating versus Selling

Each and every day I find myself having a conversation with a friend, family member or client about what to do with things they no longer want.  Most start out with telling me they’d like to sell whatever it is.   Of course, in a perfect world, we’d all like to make money from selling items that we no longer want that we either inherited or bought at some point. Unfortunately, that’s just not always the case.  
In order to sell something, whether it be clothing, furniture (antique or otherwise), tech gadgets/computers/cell phones) or china, THERE MUST BE VALUE and that term means different things to different people.
Sentimental value and fair market value are different.  Sentimental value is something that you really can’t put a price on while fair market value can be determined. Fair market value is what other people are willing to pay for something.  We do our best to figure out fair market value by researching various sites on the internet, asking trusted advisors, looking up information in books and, in some cases, simply asking a potential seller and/or buyer what they think is reasonable based on their knowledge of a particular item.  So, as you can see, there’s no set value for used items, sentimental or otherwise.
So, how do you know if something that you have should be donated or might be worth selling?   Here are some loose guidelines:
1.    If you know that something doesn’t have much value ($50 or under for example), then donations would probably be your best option.  The value for this type of situation would be a donation receipt that you can later use for your taxes.
       NOTE:  If you decide to donate something please make sure that it is not: broken, missing a piece, stained, soiled, ripped or tattered.  In other words if someone else has to fix it before using it do NOT donate it.  
2.    If you have something that has sentimental value, ie., something that has been passed down from a loved on, try to find a receipt or document that contains information about that item so that a current value can be found.   
       NOTE:  If you are thinking about selling an item that has sentimental value, be realistic. That item will not have the same value to someone else. 
3.    Unfortunately not everything can be donated and, likewise, not everything can be sold.   Sometimes you just have to let it go.
       NOTE:   Seriously, it’s okay to get rid of things that you no longer need or want.  Not everything has value.
4.    If you want to try selling something on your own to avoid paying fees to a third part, there are many companies out there that you can try.  To name a few of the top on-line companies: Craig’s List, Ebay, Amazon.  Of course there are also local consignment stores and auction houses that you can try.   
       NOTE:   If you want to contact a local consignment store or auction house, make sure that you have as much information as possible, including photographs of the item(s), so that they can determine whether or not there is any interest.  They will ask you for this information so please be prepared so as not to waste their time or yours.
5.    If you’d like to sell something and you’re not sure if it has value or what the value is and/or don’t have the time to figure it out, I WOULD LOVE TO BE OF SERVICE!
       NOTE:  You can call, text or email anytime.

The Fundamentals of Organizing

I know its Springtime but I just didn’t want to write about Spring Cleaning.   Everyone else is and you probably have your own way of going about your Spring Cleaning anyway. Also, I’ve written about Spring Cleaning in the past so you can access my words of wisdom on that subject on my website.

I’ve been trying to come up with an interesting topic for this month’s newsletter and thought that The Fundamentals of Organizing would as good as any.  So, here goes…

When organizing, and it doesn’t matter what it is that you’re organizing or want to organize, the fundamentals are really always the same.  Of course there’s many different approaches to organizing but, again, the fundamentals (the basics so to speak) remain the same.

  1.  Choose an area.   For example, instead of organizing the whole house, choose an area in the house.   For the purpose of this article, let’s say you choose your home office.    
  2.  Get all of your supplies together.  You’ll need bags for trash, a box or 2 for donations and a rag to wipe down the areas that have been cleared off.
  3.  Break the task down further.  For example, the office has many things going on. There might be an abundance of books on shelves; there might be piles of paper on the desk; there might be a storage cabinet for your supplies.   So, pick an area within the office to organize.   Again, for the purposes of this article, let’s choose the storage cabinet.
  4.  Make sure that you set aside a chunk of time, at least a few hours, to get the job done.  Preferably the time you set aside will be, for the most part, uninterrupted.   The more distractions you allow, the slower the process will be.  If you only have a few hours set a timer or alarm to keep you on track.
  5.  I know this is going to sound crazy and overwhelming but trust me, its the best way.  Clear everything out of the storage cabinet.  EVERYTHING!
  6.  Start purging.  Throw away anything that is broken, missing a piece, expired, no longer working.   Put anything that is no longer useful, to you or anyone else, in the trash.   Remember you have a trash bag (see #2 above) so just put these items directly into the trash.  
  7.  Donate:  Anything that you no longer need or want but that is still in good condition and someone else can use can be donated.  For example, you may have recently purchased a new automatic stapler so perhaps you can donate the other older staplers. Put anything that you no longer need, use or want in the box that you have designated for donations (see #2 above).  Put a post-it on the box indicating that it is a “donations” box so nobody mistakes it for trash.  
  8.  Sort.   Put things into categories.   For example, put all tape and glue together, put all small supplies together (ie, paper clips, binder clips, staples, thumbtacks); put all writing utensils together (ie, pens, markers, pencils, erasers).   
  9.  If there are random things that don’t necessarily belong in the storage cabinet but do belong in the office, put them off to the side in something (think small box or canister or tupperware) until the other areas of the office can be organized and you can figure out where they should be.  
  10. Like with Like! Place like items in a container or baggie or basket.   For the small items like paper clips, use a plastic baggie.  For pens, markers, pencils use a small box.  I like to use the boxes that I get from the bank with my checks as they’re the perfect size.   You can use tupperware as well.  Whatever gets the job done!
  11. Put everything away.  Put anything that you use frequently on the shelf that is easiest to see and reach in the storage cabinet.  Important:  place heavy items on the bottom shelf so that they don’t fall off and hit anyone.  
  12. Clean up.  Take the trash out.  Put the box of donations by the front door or in your car so that you don’t forget to take it with you when you leave the house.   
  13. Now that you’re finished organizing the storage cabinet in the office pat yourself on the back for a job well done.  Then, set aside some time to organize another area.   Put the date and time in your calendar and make sure you keep the appointment with yourself.   This will keep you motivated and keep the process moving along.   
  14. Follow the same steps as above when you move on to the next area.  
  15. I HIGHLY recommend that you continue working on another area that needs to get organized in the office or whatever room you decide to start in.  In other words, finish one room before moving on to another.  

If for some reason, you can’t or don’t want to do this alone,  why not get help?  WE’D LOVE TO BE OF SERVICE!  Give us a call. We’re ready when you are…