The Price of Time

When I talk to people about why they want to get organized and what they hope to achieve in the process, their responses always come down to time.  An organized life requires an upfront investment of time that then pays dividends in time saved that can be spent on things that really matter.  People fundamentally want to get organized because they want to spend more time having fun with their families and friends and less time hunting for that one particular sweater in the back of the closet or dealing with overdue bills.

Your time is precious, and it’s finite.  So, whether you’re purchasing someone else’s time or using your own, I strongly encourage you not to discount its value. Whenever I talk to my clients about amounts of money, whether it relates to the pricing of my services or their options to make money on the items they no longer want, I always try to frame the discussion in terms of time and effort. 

Yes, hands-on organizing that’s tailored to you by a professional is relatively expensive in terms of both time and money.  However, you have to compare that investment with how long it would take you to organize the same space by yourself, and how well the final product would work for you compared to the solutions a pro would create. 

I like to tell my clients that the reason they should hire me is so that they never have to undertake a huge organizing project ever again.  I set up systems and teach my clients how to manage them so that they may only need an organizing checkup now and then to keep things running smoothly.

On the flip side, clients often see dollar signs when they look at items they no longer want that were very expensive when originally purchased.  I regret to inform you that most things do not hold value, since the secondhand retail market is flooded with vintage and antique pieces while the current trend is toward simple, minimal design. 

Further, the amount of money you can make by re-selling your castoffs is directly proportion to the amount of time and effort you put into the sale.  The easiest option, consignment, means a big chunk of your profit is taken off the top, while the options that yield the highest return, like eBay, require you to do everything yourself and reward more work on better pictures, marketing copy, and sale monitoring

When making organizing decisions, it’s important to consider the big picture, and how much your personal time is worth. 


Getting Real About Consigning

I outlined my consignment strategy in this post last year, but there was one resource I left out: The RealReal.  I did this on purpose, because at the time I had just sent in my first shipment and wanted to see how everything went before I publicized a recommendation.

You may have heard of The RealReal: it’s probably the most visible destination for luxury consignment online.  And wow, there are some serious details to be had on a variety of authenticated couture clothing, shoes, accessories, and yes, fine jewelry if you’re on the shopping end!

For those of us consigning, the process is quite easy.  If you have ten or more items to consign, a Real Real consultant will come to your home to eyeball your pieces in person and take them away for you.  I had just eight items to sell, so I didn’t get the white glove service.  Instead, they sent me a mailing label with free shipping that I could attach to the box or package of my choice.  Be sure to check their designer list before sending in any items – it is limited both in terms of label and vintage.

My items were received, sorted, priced, and listed within a week.  Seven pieces were accepted, one rejected.  I was not, by the way, surprised that my pink Burberry raincoat from 1999 was rejected even though it was in great shape – I just had to try!  Said raincoat was neatly packaged in a logo garment bag and shipped back to me at no charge.

My sales on (not the complete list)

As you can see from my listing, the actual sales do drag on – the last pair of shoes finally sold more than eight months after I originally sent in my shipment.  And good deals for shoppers and 60% commission for consigners mean that I didn’t make a huge chunk of change compared to what I originally spent on the pieces I sold.

The bottom line?

The RealReal is for you if:

  • You have a lot of true high end designer pieces you want to get rid of
  • You’re short on time and want to get it done easily

The RealReal might not be your best bet if:

  • You only have a few pieces to consign
  •  Your items are well used or you’ve owned them for quite some time
  • You want to make as much money as possible on your items

Now that I know the best kind of consigner for The Real Real, I’ll certainly be recommending it to my clients who fit that description! 


Get Paid to Recycle

One of the biggest obstacles to getting organized is being able to get rid of the things you no longer need or use efficiently.  After all, you’re getting organized to simplify your life, not to add another round of errands to your busy schedule as you try to donate and/or sell your discarded possessions.

I’m a big fan of any service that allows you to consign, donate, or rent from the comfort of your own home.  You get the satisfaction of decluttering your home, and your unwanted items get to live on instead of becoming landfill fodder.

Amazingly, this phone still powers on!

So, when my husband shattered his iPhone 6+ screen for the second time and finally had to admit that it was no longer usable, I of course turned to Gazelle.

Screen shot from

There are a lot of places to sell your old tech devices online.  I like Gazelle because the process is extremely simple and straightforward.  You click on the type of product you want to sell (they accept smart phones, iPads, iPods, and Macs), answer a few easy questions about the device and its current functional state, and get an offer.  If you accept, they send you a box and shipping label in the mail, you select your preferred method of payment, and then pack up and send in your device.  I’ve never had any problems with shipping, and payment is prompt and accurate.

I placed my order on a Wednesday, and this box was delivered 2 days later.

Simple instructions are front and center...

... shipping label and sticker to seal are included... well as foam to protect your device.

All boxed up and ready to go!

E-waste is actually a huge problem, taking up tons of space in our landfills, and it’s even more dangerous than other types of trash because toxic chemicals and metals leech from tech products into soil and groundwater.  Services like Gazelle ensure that your devices are recycled instead of thrown away, and making a little cash on the side is a pretty nice bonus.


Resources for an Organized Move Part 1

It’s key to get organized before you move, as I mentioned in this post.  However, decluttering is a bit tougher with larger items like furniture and electronics – what do you do with them? How do you move them? There are local consignment shops here in San Francisco that I’ve researched, but I’ve always stopped short of using any of them because of one major drawback: you have to get the furniture to the store yourself! 

Item uploading window from

And then I discovered Move Loot*.  This startup, which is already in many locations nationwide, takes the hassle out of furniture consignment. The process is seriously easy: you fill in the very simple form to describe each one of your pieces that requires zero creativity on your part (please take note, Style Lend!) and upload a few photos (they recommend 3-4).  A Move Loot representative gets back to you within 24 hours with an offer on your stuff, which you can choose to accept or reject.  If you accept the offer, you can select a day for the pickup and specify morning or afternoon.  You then get a confirmation email, and a text a couple of days before the pickup refining your pickup window to just one hour.  Really!

A listing for one of the items I submitted on

Even though one item I submitted was significantly scratched, all my pieces were accepted.  I submitted everything from name brand to complete unknown, all used but in good condition, and that seemed to be the type of thing Move Loot is looking for.

As for the in-person service, it was just as smooth.  Two nice guys in Move Loot t-shirts showed up in a logo van at my doorstep, fully prepared with tools. I pointed out the pieces to them, and then they went to work.  They were careful, damaged nothing, and even took apart a big four-poster bed that definitely wasn’t going to fit through the doorway.

Of course, you aren’t going to make a huge return on your furniture consignment.  Move Loot gives you an estimated payout range, because your payout does depend on what your pieces fetch on their site from the highest bidder, and it ends up being about a quarter to a third of the original price.  But for overall value and ease of use, I’d say that Move Loot is definitely the way to go!


*This post contains referral links, which will earn me cash back or shopping credit on the linked sites.  I was not asked by any of these companies to advertise their products or services.




My Consigning Strategy

Many potential clients share the concern that, as professional organizer, I will force them to get rid of prized possessions.  This could not be further from the truth!  My job, in the first stage of the organizing process, is to enable my clients to make productive decisions about items in their homes: keep, toss, or give away.  I certainly provide recommendations, but the final say is always theirs.

The first decision when faced with the “give-away pile” is whether or not you want to make money from these items.  Some clients just want the stuff to disappear, and like the idea that it could help someone else, so we donate all of their items to charity.  The Goodwill is an excellent fallback, but I also suggest different organizations to my clients depending on their philanthropic interests – perhaps a thrift store that supports an animal shelter for a dog lover!

Some clients feel better knowing that their items continue to have market value, and that they aren’t just throwing away perfectly good things.  For those clients, consignment is a great option, and I use it myself!  Clothes, shoes, and accessories usually make up the bulk of consignable items, and here’s how I do it.

I list items that are brand new with tags (yes, I am a professional organizer, and yes, I have gotten rid of things I bought but never wore!) on eBay.  You can earn the most on your pieces here because it’s an international, competitive market.  That said, it does take time and energy to manage eBay sales and get the items mailed off in a timely manner, which may or may not be worth it to you.

My most recent ThredUp cleanout bag

My most recent ThredUp cleanout bag

I use ThredUp* for mid-range designer pieces (think J. Crew, Kate Spade, Marc by Marc Jacobs).  This service could not be easier: they send you a bag, you fill it up and send it back, and then they sell your items and give you the money, all for free!  The downside is that they are pretty picky – I have never had everything in my bag accepted for sale.  You can either tell them to donate the unaccepted items or send them back to you for a fee that is deducted from your total earnings. 

Photo courtesy of

I go to The Designer Consigner, my favorite local consignment shop, to sell high-end items and mid-range items that weren’t accepted by ThredUp*.  They are very easy to work with and I trust them – the owner told me that the Stuart Weitzman shoes I didn’t want anymore don’t command a good price here in SF and that my best bet was to sell them online!  They will reject items that are the wrong season, since sales move quickly, so I do have to strategize around that.

Please note that you do need to be very honest with yourself about the condition of your items when consigning.  If you wouldn’t want to buy that sweater that has totally pilled on the sides or those shoes with chips in the heels, no one else would either!  In the case of clearly worn pieces, it’s best to donate or even just trash them.


*This post contains referral links, which will earn me cash back or shopping credit on the linked sites.  I was not asked by any of these companies to advertise their products or services.