Meet John Trosko {aka Mr. Organization}

Hollywood (and its many housewives) call him when they want to get organized. Imagine that. John Trosko and his company, OrganizingLA works with clients who have lost touch with their possessions (perhaps they cannot find them?), and encourages them to downsize, organize, and pursue long forgotten hobbies and passions once the clutter is clear. Because organization is constantly on my brain, which I blame on my mother along with Martha Stewart, and Real Simple magazine, I thought John was the perfect go-to guy to talk to about organizing the home since this is the time of year when the pack-ratting begins. Along with John, I've contributed a bit by adding some of my favorite products for getting organized - at least half of which I own and use on a an (almost!) daily basis.

Audrey Patton bag and Slicker tote, Fashionable clipboard sets,
Smart storage jars, Lorraine plate rack (organizing never looked
so pretty - paint in a bright color or go with crisp white).

decor8: Hi John! I've been reading your blog for over a year now and enjoy the many topics you share there on organization. So tell us, how do you help your clients figure out what part of their home should be organized first?

John: All of my meetings start with a ?kick-off? session where I tour a space, meet the family, pitch the value of my service and resources, and come up with a rough timeline to get the work done. I also work to ?size? up the client to make sure we?re a good fit in personality and they have the time to devote to making decisions. In other words, I only want to work with clients who want to ?finish? their project.

decor8: What are the common "problem" rooms?

John: I start in any space that is causing the most frustration, which is usually an office or a kitchen?wherever they spend a lot of time. Unfortunately, these areas are mountainous, and can take lots of time. So if people are hesitant about the road ahead, we may choose a smaller, more confined space like a pantry, dresser or coat closet. That way, the client can gain some confidence, get some decision skills going and learn to keep up the space without me constantly on them. Then, we can finally move onto the next location. The areas of the home that need the most attention are the routine areas, entry ways, bathroom vanities, magazine storage, mail deposits, nightstands?any space you use everyday. Those areas need rather simple systems, but require almost daily maintenance.

decor8: What are your observations when it comes to all these tools we buy -- are they helping?

John: The whole organizing supplies industry is exploding. People want to keep the volumes of stuff they already own, but they want it all labeled, containerized and inventoried for use later. I avoid having a discussion about products until a client downsizes and we are both confident what we have is what we need. I have to tell you, most clients have a MOUNTAIN of unused organizing supplies in their homes and offices These include bins, baskets, drawer boxes, racks, hooks, suede letter dividers left sitting around, enough to fill a small shop The only issue with this is that things rarely match. I suggest these items get located in one area and we try and reuse and recycle what is possible. The rest gets donated. Every client gets a conversation about not only buying, but actually using what they buy. The entire process is self-reflective, slightly intrusive, but ultimately rewarding. It should feel like a visit to the dentist and not like a colonoscopy.

decor8: Can you share with us your ten commandments of organization?

John: Certainly. Thou shall not directly worship the Container Store Goddess. The purity of organizing products does not preclude you from clearing your clutter, first. The Organizing ?Secret? is no secret at all; keepith space available brings you untold fortune. Thou shall not commit adultery (however, ?tis honorable to ask for organizing helpith during Spring Fling.) Devote thy days to mess maintainence, but thou nights to wine and dine. Honor thy elders. Thou shall not nag if items are in wrong place; put them back without saying anythingth. Getting thyself organized is easier then staying organized. Avoidith keeping clutter as a yardstick of thy achievements. Thou must not give false evidence against thy neighbor. Stop chasing thy paper chase; lose thy ?to file? box and handle immediately by putting it away in its rightful place. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor?s goods. Thy grass may be greener around thy neighbor?s lawn mover shed, but inside may be a dark surprise. Eat, drink and be merry. Organizing thyself is reflective, but should be funneth.

decor8: I like those but I have to add one - only buyith large bins for attic storage that are clear or else you forgetith what's inside. Okay, so once a space is organized, let's use the home office as an example, what are some effective ways to maintain that?

John: The term I use is called ?backsliding.? It?s sort of like a diet. You decide you need to lose that extra 10 pounds before the big party, and you workout like crazy and eat next to nothing for the next 2 weeks. Sure the big party comes, and you look great, but then you drift back into unproductive habits until the next time you need to lose the same weight. So the value in getting organized is not in the act of doing the work to get there, it?s in the act of ?staying? organized. It?s the habit of maintenance that will prove your overall success.

decor8: Okay, we hear you, maintenance. Can you share some expert tips?

John: Keep it simple; don?t make your systems too complicated. Store items where you need them. Storage should be accessible, with one or two motions to open/close. Try not to stack things. Place your everyday accessible items in plain, open view, and the seldom used items on lower shelves or cabinets. Label everything, even if it?s obvious.

decor8: What if you live with (cough, cough) others that aren't so neat (complete slobs)?

John: Be very careful about critiquing others in the house who haven?t subscribed to your organizing euphoria. If things are out of place, reinforce your new system by putting things back without complaining. The concept here is to peacefully stress the importance of the system, without alienating your beloved. Do not think that the time you spend summoning your husband over and scolding him will be an investment. It will only alienate them. If you follow your simple systems and put things back several times each week, you will develop a new ?habit? that will last and last and last. Much longer than that ?diet? crash program.

Large document box, Wicker storage basket, Desktop file,
magazine boxes, Hable Construction storage boxes.
I swear by these Hable storage boxes for storing bottled water
in the kitchen or magazines by your desk.

decor8: In my family, my husband is always after me, he is extremely neat and organized down to his sock drawer. Okay, so we buy some containers, downsize, and organize. Now for motivation. Any advice there?

John: The value of my service is about strategy and execution. It?s easier to let items pile up instead of taking the time to make ?discard or retain? decision, right? Most clients have a disconnect between where they are today, and where they want to be next month. This is because they have no action plan to get anywhere. Develop that action plan using your resources, so you will have a coherent approach to managing the execution of your organizing plan. This is why rewards are so important. If you hit a milestone (desk cleared, closet purged, donations leaving the house and at the charity thrift store), give yourself a reward. Because if you don?t reward yourself, who will? ?If I keep the entry way from my front door cleared and maintained for a week, I?ll go buy those flowers, get a manicure, or snag that design book I?ve been hearing about.?

Thank you John for sharing your insights with us. If you have any questions for John, please leave a comment below and he'll address those for you right here. John's blog is a great source for organizational how-to. Check it out!

(images from retailers mentioned in above links)