Courtney Strout Submitted photo

Courtney Strout has three children and started organizing as a hobby, at home, before deciding to make it into a side business.

By day, she works with children with disabilities. By night, she’s a personal organizer with some tips for your closet, like, think twice before reaching for that tote!

Name: Courtney Strout

Age: 30

Lives: Lewiston

How did you discover your inner personal organizer? Were you a neat kid? I was a fairly neat kid, not necessarily meaning my room was always clean, but I was always organizing everything. I even organized M&Ms by color before eating them.

What made you decide to start offering it as a business? A friend of mine’s mom suggested it and it was perfect timing as I was needing something new in my life, so I just jumped right into it.

How do you draw the line on what should stay and what should go? I am pretty much a minimalist, so for me that line is very different from most of my clients. Because of this, I usually leave the decision up to them. I only step in and make suggestions about getting rid of things if they’re open to receiving my input.

Do you subscribe to the KonMari method, keep it if it brings you joy? I’ve never read or watched anything about that method, but I have heard of it. However, my motto is “collect moments, not things.”

Any helpful parent hacks for organizing kids clothes or toys? I would say to all parents to cut back on the toys — children with too much just become overwhelmed with the choices. But if you don’t want to get rid of things, trying putting away half or more and bringing toys out on a rotation to renew the child’s interest in them. I love all things organization: bins, shelves, color coding, labeling, etc.

You’ve just tamed a massively chaotic bedroom and closet. You step back and feel: Excited for the potential end result. I love the challenge of tackling a big project and the sense of joy in completing it.

What’s the one organizational tool everyone should have? A vision and/or a plan! The biggest thing I see is people getting a room or closet or area organized but there’s no plan behind how it will function, and then the area is a mess again within a month. You need to have a vision for how things should look and a plan that’s realistic. Totes or bins are a great idea if you’re going to keep them sorted and that’s something you can see yourself using. Otherwise they’re just another thing to fill with clutter. You need to have a realistic plan and a commitment to keeping an area looking like your vision.

How often should we be cleaning out our closets or reassessing our stuff? I tend to do seasonally. If a season ends and you find things like gloves, coats, etc. that you didn’t wear all winter long, what makes you think you will wear them next winter? If you can go a whole season without using something that was made for that season, then you no longer need that item and it’s just taking up space.

Totes: In your opinion, great for storage or just another way to keep things we don’t need? They are great for storage, but not necessarily a good organizing tool. I use them to store seasonal decorations, off-season gear (boots, hats, etc.). But I don’t use them as a tool to organize things like craft stuff or kids toys because they just don’t work for that. It causes things to be out of sight, out of mind, and if that’s the case, then just get rid of the things instead.

Dream person or place to organize? Dream place would be to be able to organize a whole house. A lot of times when I finish a project I’m thinking of 10 other things in the home I would like to work on, too, but usually people just choose one area for me to work on. It kind of makes me feel like I didn’t finish the job when I leave and other rooms are still cluttered.

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