Angela Hoxsey is a professional organizer based in the Napa Valley. For information about her services, go to www.houseinorder.com or call 707-738-4346. 

Which are the best supplies to use when organizing? The main attributes of worthy supplies are the following: appropriateness, beauty, durability, price, color, size, ease of use, ease of maintenance.

Balance and moderation seem like old-school values in our age of extremes. My grandmother always preached moderation — you know, one, maybe two, cookies. It never worked for me. I was a “until they’re gone” type of cookie monster. Grandma would just shake her head and suggest I buy a girdle.

What makes throwing away unopened food seem so wasteful? Many of us were brought up by Depression-era parents or their offspring who inherited Depression-era thinking. We were in the “clean plate” club. We experienced having to sit in front of a cold plate of food for hours if we didn’t fini…

If I had a Declutter Book Club, the following would be my top picks. If a professional organizer is not in your budget, inspiration and guidance can be found in a well-written book on organizing. New or old, these books stand out to me as extremely useful guides.

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Our digital connectivity — smartphones, tablets and computers — can create a false sense of productivity. Most people I talk to are on a hamster wheel of trying to delete and unsubscribe to emails, check social media, watch suggested YouTube videos and Ted Talks, all before breakfast.

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Several of my recent organizing projects have highlighted a particular benefit of decluttering: finding cash or its equivalent. Sometimes, the valuable items or amounts of money found during the organizing process are quite significant. Such occasions make for some entertaining stories.

Why do we all have too much stuff? The Industrial Revolution contributed by making more goods more quickly and more cheaply than ever before. Post-World War II prosperity gave our parents and grandparents the ability to buy more than just the basic necessities.

Organizing styles are like belly buttons; either you’re an ‘innie’ or an ‘outie.’ Innies either hide their clutter behind cupboard and closet doors or, if they’re organized, have things labeled and filed in those same cupboards and closets. Outies have a tougher time getting organized. They …

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Cupboards high, cupboards low, closets in every room and hall, under-bed bins, old trunks, attics, basements, shelves of all sorts — architects and furniture designers have become very clever at creating storage in what used to be simply, for example, a window seat or an ottoman. An excess o…

I’m trying to go into 2018 without any expectations. 2017 was an “everything but the kitchen sink” year of disasters, shootings, #metoo horror stories, nuclear missile tests and the constant barrage of tweets. It was quite the cluttered year; sort of a hoard of deplorable events. I’ve been t…

 A young couple recently called requesting my services to organize two garages. I told them that a typical garage can take up to 12 hours, but that we would start with a standard four-hour session. We ended up almost finishing both garages in three hours, and could have been done with both i…

I usually talk about baggage in terms of all the excess stuff we own that can cause disorganization or the metaphorical emotional baggage that is behind hoarding and obsessive-compulsive shopping and other tendencies that result in a chaotic life. But today, I’m writing about literal baggage…

Creating a list of the contents of your home, where each item was purchased, date of purchase and cost is difficult enough when everything is right in front of you. It is an unfathomable, daunting task when a home has been reduced to ashes, as many were after the recent wild fire. However, m…

The sense of smell is an interesting one to consider when organizing your home and office. It’s often ignored because we tend to give much more importance to our visual sense.

The column that was supposed to run in this place was about the sense of smell and using it in your organizing process, but right now the only smell filling the air is smoke.

My husband and I used to marvel at the stupidity of several unwelcome but amusing roosters that took up residence in our yard. Every night, they would have to relearn how to get up into a tree to roost. You could almost see them thinking: “Did I jump on the picnic bench first or the fence? C…

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Reporters are always at their best when being wined and dined, and so it was a congenial group who had gathered at Joseph Phelps Winery where the assignment, this day, was to experience the launch of the winery’s new culinary program.

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One of the most problematic areas of organization for my female clients is the bathroom. Many women simply have too many cosmetics, unguents and potions. The husband of one client described the bottles and jars on his wife’s side of the bathroom counter as the skyline of a major metropolis.

Organizing is a never-ending process. You can either get excited by this, or feel hopeless and overwhelmed. I suggest you get to choose how you feel about it. Try excitement on for size.

Thick, thirsty bath towels take up a lot of room in the linen closet, so I’ve found a bunch of ways to store towels right where they are used, in the bathroom.

Linen closets are a chore to organize the first time. But once you do it and do it right, it will be a snap to maintain for the long term.

Linen closets are a chore to organize the first time. But once you do it and do it right, it will be a snap to maintain for the long term.

Paralysis in the decluttering process of your home can set in when we start overthinking future scenarios.

You’ve taken out the trash, the recycling, the toxic waste. You’ve portioned out the valuables to heirs, auction and consignment. You’ve gotten “real” with the clothing, the kitchen and the hobby supplies. The final step in our downsizing prep is memorabilia, and if you have truly accomplish…

In the last column I discussed the quick and dirty part of downsizing: the identification of trash and recycling. Next in the narrowing circle of possessions to be downsized are the treasures, both real and imagined. If unprepared in the task of divesting ourselves of our treasures, we might…

Organizing services and products are a huge business in America, and sometimes it’s hard to know where to spend your money. Do you go for the help, the cool containers, the heavy duty file folders or the floppy cheap ones? It depends on two things: your budget, obviously, and where you are o…

Sometimes procrastination on tasks and projects can be a good thing. Yes, you read it right. We often add things to our To Do lists and leave them there, week after week or even year after year, without considering: what if we gave ourselves permission not to do the task or finish the project?

I kept trying to give it away. For the last couple months the book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” had been going from the house to the donation bag I keep in the garage. Something kept telling me I needed to revisit what author Greg McKeon had to say.

It’s early in the year to be talking about garages. I tend to reserve garage organizing for summer when the weather is warm and dry, but I recently experienced a garage miracle. It was like going through a wormhole in a science-fiction movie. On one side was a chaotic, dark and slightly scar…

Before 2016 is a distant memory, take some time to review your accomplishments, challenges and general feelings about the past year.

I must be getting old. It is becoming increasingly difficult to open a gift and not carefully preserve the pretty wrapping paper and the “perfectly good box.” I have to stop myself from neatly coiling the used grosgrain and satin and stashing it for the next holiday.

An ideal organizer is fairly easy to describe. You want to look for someone who is compassionate, but has good boundaries; someone who has high energy, but is willing to match your pace if you need to move more slowly; someone observant, who can see why some of your organizing challenges occ…

It never seems to end, but doing the laundry is my favorite chore. It’s one of the few chores that you can accomplish while watching Project Runway. Having an organized laundry room makes all the difference.

When I was a whippersnapper in the wine business in the late 1980s, I wondered what kind of woman Robert Mondavi’s wife could be and how anyone could possibly match his good looks, charm and charisma. When I was fortunate enough to finally meet Margrit Biever Mondavi and have lunch with her …

We have all experienced that “stop the world, I want to get off,” feeling. It’s the feeling we get when we have too many obligations, commitments, dependents, assignments, expectations, pings, buzzes, rings, dings and other interruptions. It’s hard to get a thought in edgewise.

Last year, it seemed that every client had a copy of the mega-seller book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” on their bedside table. This year, the majority of my new clients have never heard of it. Like fad diets, organizing trends are in one season and out the next. Although the book …

Firearms in the home necessitate a higher degree of order and care than, say, books or baseball gear, but I’ve seen too many gun-related organizational missteps. If you are going to exercise the Second Amendment right to own firearms, apply some orderly thinking to their storage.

Paper! That slender, seemingly innocent descendant of papyrus that can suddenly bite you like Cleopatra’s viper. Most hoarders I have worked with have more trouble with paper, specifically newspapers and magazines, than any other category of material goods. Why is it so hard for some people …

I just spent 10 days on the road and enjoyed nights in four different guest rooms and one hotel. It got me thinking about what makes a great bedroom and a good night’s sleep.

Tim Ferriss is a phenomenon. His “4-Hour Workweek,” “4-Hour Body” and “4-Hour Chef” books are mega best-sellers and his podcast series, “The Tim Ferriss Show,” contains a crazy amount of valuable information and an introductions to inspiring books, people and movies. Even if you already reti…

Two weeks ago, the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville opened its annual Napa Valley Collects show, an exhibition of art lent by local collectors. The terrific show, curated by Meagan Doud, is a quirky but accessible mix of subjects and mediums.

It takes some self-awareness to realize when you are taking up more than your fair share of space. We all know a few people who are “larger than life,” which can be a lot of fun but can also wear on your nerves after a while. Alternatively, a person may not take up too much psychic space, bu…

When faced with a big job like spring cleaning, start at the top and work your way down. Most of the rain may be behind us, but for the next couple of months we will still be focusing on the interior of the house and leave exteriors for normally dry June when the effects will be more lasting.

I’m enjoying organizer Marie Kondo’s moment by proxy. Her best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” has hooked millions of people on organizing and I’m hearing things at dinner parties like, “I thanked my socks for their service today.” A huge part of the Kondo method is gr…

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I just bought my very first scanner. I have a bit of an aversion to office equipment, but I got a job that involves a lot of scanning and decided that I’d rather do it sitting at my desk at home than standing at the monster all-in-one copier at our…

Unfortunately, sometimes clutter is not cleared and affairs are not put into order until someone dies. I’ve been privileged to have helped many people as they go through a lifetime’s worth of possessions, either those of a spouse, a parent or — most devastating — a child. Even if the organiz…

Everything we do and create begins with a thought. This is such a simple but powerful insight. We need to imagine or think of what it is we want to do, be, produce before manifestation can occur. Sometimes we don’t even know what to think, so how should we begin?

Janus, the Roman god for whom the first month of the year is named, looks backward and forward, a perfect image for getting a solid start on 2016. Let’s begin with looking back at some of the top tips from 2015’s columns.

Holiday gifting this year feels like I’m skating fast and smooth over a river of ice: effortless, exhilarating and, yes, fun. How did this happen? How did the usual angst and frustration transform so completely to confidence, joy and an almost childlike giddiness? Two words: no shopping.

Productivity coach and author David Allen has a saying, “The better you get, the better you’d better get.” This means that as you become more organized and productive, you’ve got to watch out because either others will recognize that you get things done and heap more tasks on your plate or y…

Physical stuff — the boxes of baby clothes in the garage and stacks of unprocessed paper in the office—isn’t the only clutter that can impinge on a person’s serenity. The sounds in our environment, like the physical clutter, impinge on calm, concentration and overall quality of life. Take ti…

The inbox or basket is a standard office tool, but it is not commonly used correctly. Most, if not all, of my clients’ organizing woes could be cured with the proper use of the inbox. I can preach and preach, but it is the actual habit of using the inbox correctly that must be done consisten…

Fall always catches me by surprise. These last few weeks were warm, then hot, then rainy, then very chilly, then crazy, stormy windy. And then warm again. Once again, we go herky-jerky into autumn. It’s a tricky time of year to prepare for, but the thought of dark, cozy nights, lots of rain …

The organizing and productivity phenomenon has reached the point that lately I’m feeling a little push back. A book by two guys who call themselves The Minimalists starts with, “Organizing should be a dirty word…” They believe that the craze for organization is simply an excuse to be a thoug…

There is a lot to love about Gretchen Rubin’s recent book, “Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives.” The follow-up to her bestseller, “The Happiness Project,” “Better Than Before” is an entertaining, highly readable book full of information on how to make meaningful c…