CPO-CD® April Progress

My assignment this month was to write a book analysis (the last of four), on track to graduate from the Institute for Challenging Disorganization with my CPO-CD® certification in September 2019. I choose the book, Buried in Treasures (BIT), help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding, by David F. Tolin, Randy O. Frost, and Gail Steketee, suggested by a colleague—and I am so glad I read this book! Buried in Treasures is a valuable “how-to” resource guide for professional organizers and related professionals, and is a practical self-help guide for people who hoard. This book has become my “bible”, and rates very high in my library of books on people who hoard. Based on this  book, there are  “BIT Workshops” across the country, and research shows that the workshops are nearly as successful as individual therapy for hoarding. The book’s authors present thought-provoking questions regarding getting motivated, reviewing values and personal goals, and of course confronting triggers and coping. What makes this “workbook” style approach so effective is that the authors really drill down to the core mis-beliefs that pop into the head of people who hoard, and challenges those thoughts. It’s a must read for families with loved ones who hoard, people with hoarding behavior and professionals.  For more information on BIT support groups visit:

In San Francisco:

In Oakland:


Closet Organizing Tip

I was recently approached by a company to provide one of my favorite tips for organizing a closet, so here ya go:

I cannot stress enough, the most important guideline I use in closet organizing is to group like things together (not to mention first eliminating what you don’t wear): Shirts with shirts, pants with pants, etc.  I even take it a step further and group within a group.  For example within shirts, I group short sleeves, long sleeves, tanks — and also group by color. By using this tip, there’s just no question about where to find those items when you want them. I realize this may be easier said than done, which is why for many, hiring a Professional Organizer is the only answer to an organized, functional closet!

CPO-CD® Class of 2019!

I am two-thirds of the way through earning my “credential” as a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization (CPO-CD®) program.  I am incredibly proud of this educational journey I have embarked upon!  This 20-month program requires an investment of me as a professional organizer of over $3000, and 200+ hours of coursework, lots of reading, writing, and analyzing books related to Chronically Disorganized (CD) clients, as well as service in my industry. I think education matters in my desire to work with CD clients. This program is not required or necessary as a professional organizer, but for me, it’s testament of my commitment to provide specialized help, especially to my CD clients.  Though I have 6 months more to go, I am (already) much more qualified and equipped than my competition, and I’m in a position to be of greater service to my client’s needs.

Happy New Year!

What’s your New Year’s resolution?  Starting fresh and getting organized?  Skills like sorting, making decisions and follow through are necessary to declutter your living space—Yes, I know…creating livable spaces is easier said then done. At a recent conference I attended, Michael Tomkins, Phd, author and authority on clutter and hoarding behavior, challenged the audience to think about the word “need” when sorting stuff. Try this rule:  Ask yourself these three powerful questions when you are sorting your stuff to determine whether it’s something that should be tossed, donated or kept:

  • is my SAFETY at risk?
  • is my HEALTH at risk?
  • is my FINANCIAL WELFARE at risk?

Other rules that you need to consider when sorting:

  • If it’s broken…can you let it go?
  • How many of the same or similar thing do you have? Find balance.
  • If it’s not repaired or used in a “reasonable” amount of time (less then 6 months), can you let it go?

Dig deep and ask yourself:  Will your life be negatively effected if you get rid of “it”?  Have you felt anxiety or depression because you’ve been without “it”.  What void is “it” filling? Have you spent hours, days, or weeks looking for “it”?  I can help with with all these questions, and together we can make a difference!  Call/text/email Cazares Organizing today!

Dig deep and you will get results.

“Need” is a Powerful Word

What do you really “need” to keep?  Sorting your stuff can be overwhelming and cause a lot of anxiety.  To put what you really “need” to the test, Michael Tompkins, PhD, a licensed psychologist and board certified in behavioral and cognitive psychology, and author of many books regarding hoarding, suggests when you sort your stuff, ask yourself these three powerful questions:

  1. Is my SAFETY at risk?
  2. Is my HEALTH at risk?
  3. Is my FINANCIAL welfare at risk?

When you ask yourself these questions you may find that you really don’t “need” as much as you want to keep.  He also suggests, if an item is broken – let it go.  If you have others (usually many) – let it go.  If you don’t repair “it” in a month or two — let it go!  Other sorting tips suggested by Tompkins, is to use a three box sorting system:  HARD to toss; MODERATE to toss; and EASY to toss. By practicing these sorting tips, you will build a level of tolerance, which leads to less anxiety.

Hoarding and Cluttering, Think Outside the Boxes: Innovation in Action

The 18th International Conference on Hoarding and Cluttering, sponsored by the Mental Health Association of San Francisco, was held at Cal  Berkeley, March 22-23, 2018.  This two day conference was enlightening, enriching, and educational! I learned about new research and techniques that will help my clients who suffer from the mental disorder of Hoarding.  As a part of my studies with the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) to earn my credential as a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization (CPO-CD®), I was honored to meet Dr. Chia-Ying Chou, who has worked with 130 individuals with Hoarding Disorder.  Her emotional and informative presentation on Experience Compassion Focused Therapy for Hoarding, was an uplifting, refreshing new approach for treatment of hoarding disorder.  She has been co-developing this new treatment protocol for this mental illness called, Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), with other experts in hoarding.  I was fortunate enough to spend 30 minutes with Dr. Chou, a related professional, to talk about ICD and how Professional Organizers like me, who work with clients with hoarding behavior, can work collaboratively.   Together, we can both help support our clients who have Hoarding Disorder.         

I was also lucky enough to learn from Michael Tompkins, PhD – a licensed psychologist, who spoke on Three Essentials Coaching Skills:  Sorting, Making Decisions, and Follow Through as it relates to people who hoard.  He explains, “People who hoard lack several skills that are necessary to declutter their living environments, effectively.”  To start the process of sorting, he suggested the use of three boxes, labeled   1) Impossible to let go; 2) Moderately impossible to let go; 3) Easy to let go.  To demonstrate this process, audience members sorted their purse or wallet, using the three categories above. We examined our “rules” for putting the items into each of the three categories.  Then we were challenged to ask ourself:  Do we really need these things? By letting go, is my “safety at risk?”; Is my “health at risk?”; and, is my “financial welfare at risk?”  When we applied the three questions, our perspective of what was “impossible” to let go changed to “easy”. This was a powerful, yet basic demonstration on the value we place on material things that we think we “need”.  

This Client Says it all in his Testimonial!

I have been working with this client since last May. The first task at hand was “Harm Reduction”.  With an upcoming surgery, it was paramount that he could safely walk from his bedroom, bathroom,  and also to the kitchen.  We have a lot to work on and over time we will achieve our goal. He is a wonderful person with a big heart, and a fantastic sense of humor!  Not only am I lucky to do what I love to do, I am so honored, humbled, and fortunate to work with someone like this client!

Jennifer has been a god-send, and it is a pleasure to work with her!  After too many years of “collecting” and hoarding behavior, I am now challenged with dealing with the result.  I often become overwhemled, lose motivation and am unable to move forward.  Jen knows just how to tackle whatever the challenge might be, she knows right where to start and digs in head first. Throughout the process, Jen is encouraging, supportive and knows just the right amount of nudging to keep things moving towards your goal without making you feel like you have lost control of the process.  With Jen’s help, I was able to make my home accessible enough to return there following orthopaedic surgery, rather than go to a skilled nursing facility.  Jennifer is an utmost professional, but she is also an understanding and caring individual who shows sincere concern for her clients.  We have only gone a short ways on the long path ahead, but I know with Jennifer’s expertise, energy and support, I am going to be successful in reaching my goal of having a well-appointed, uncluttered environment. — East Bay Client