Meet our guest blogger, Carly Adams of Tidy Revival! Carly is one of our official mentors within the Inspired Organizer® Facebook group, and she’s here to share all of her tips on what to pack in your professional organizing tool bag!
What To Pack In Your Professional Organizing Tool Bag
Something many new organizers struggle with, especially in the beginning, is what to put in their toolkit, and what supplies to bring with them on every session. It seems like many veteran organizers are guarded to share their “secrets”. I feel fortunate to have had someone early in my career share everything about their organizing kit, so I’m excited to pay it forward and share a rundown of everything in the kit I take to every client home, including the bag I use.
If you’re a new business owner, know that it takes time to build up your kit. My biggest advice is to not worry about having everything under the sun when you’re in the first few months of business. Just start with what you have on hand at home, and build your kit after you have a few clients under your belt.
When I was first getting started as an organizer, I used a big tote bag that I already had. It worked great in the beginning, but as my client list grew, so did the number of supplies I was toting from home to home, and I wanted something with more pockets to keep things organized (naturally!). When I started shopping for my ideal bag, my amazing stylist sister suggested The Grand Traveler from Vera Bradley. It had everything I was looking for; it is machine-washable, came in black, has tons and tons of pockets, and is both durable and beautiful. The model I have doesn’t appear to be sold anymore, but the Grand Weekender seems to be a pretty close equivalent.
Inside my bag, I make use of all the pockets and have a few more organizing components that help me keep everything straight. First, I have a set of mesh bags that I love, because I can see what’s in each one to easily grab when needed. I also have a small parts organizer to keep the tiniest of my tools organized. Every item has a home in my bag so I can find it as soon as I need it.
What’s in My Organizing Toolkit?
1. Sharp tools & pencil case
The tools I probably use the most are my sharp tools. This includes my scissors, two box cutters and an exacto knife. I also use the items in my pencil case at most sessions. This includes my Sharpies (extra fine tip and fine tip) as well as my chalk paint marker, another chalk crayon, pens and a pencil.
2. Office Supplies
I always have a small “office” kit in my bag, which includes items we use a lot on office jobs, but are good to have for other jobs too. This includes rubber bands, Post-its, correction tape, paper clips, binder clips in a few sizes, a jumbo eraser, and some thumbtacks. I also have a small stash of envelopes (great for sorting receipts!) and a pad of paper, although all my client notes I take on my phone (if you’re a GMail fan – the Keep app is AMAZING!).
I keep a variety of labels in my toolbag. I always have a couple sizes of the Office Depot brand in my bag (permanent vs. removable). I also keep a handful of 3×5 cards with the labels, because you never know when you’ll use them. Lastly, I have my trusty Brother label maker and make sure to keep backup label cartridges in my bag. I also have backup batteries for the label maker (because running out of power mid-session is the worst!).
If you told me five years ago that I would carry around five different kinds of tape with me at all times, I wouldn’t have believed you – but that’s exactly what I do now. My kit always contains packing tape (as well as a backup roll, because with packing jobs you end up using a lot of tape), blue painters tape, Scotch tape, poster tape & double-sided tape. You would be surprised at how often I use all of these!
I carry a few tools with me at all times. I have an adorable mini hammer that I leave in my trunk which also holds screwdrivers inside it, and I always have a small selection of nails in my kit. For unpacking jobs or decor installation days, I also carry a picture-hanging kit. Lastly, I make sure to always have my pair of tiny screwdrivers on hand. Things like kiddo toys or battery-operated candles always need the smallest screwdrivers, and they weigh almost nothing.
I also have a small parts organizer I mentioned above, which holds all my teeny tiny helpers: small Command Hooks, zip ties, shelf pegs and small S-Hooks. Lastly, I have a folding step-stool that comes with me on every job, so I’m able to access the taller shelves of most closets.
6. Personal Supplies
I always have one big pocket reserved for “my” items. This is where I keep things like my wallet, cell phone, car keys, snack bars, tissue, and lotion. I aim to keep this section really sparse – just contains what I need during my time with my clients.
7. Cleaning & Sorting Supplies
Some areas in a home need a little bit of love to move forward. A slight wipe-down or removal of old sticker residue goes a long way in dusty drawers or shelves. I always keep a roll of paper towels (and a backup in my car if I’m low) as well as a bottle of Goo Gone and a container of Clorox Wipes in my kit. I also keep a few pairs of disposable gloves handy, in case I encounter something funky.
For sorting with clients, I bring three bins for trash, recycle and donations. I also always have a stocked stash of garbage bags, as well as a supply of zip lock bags in all the sizes (gallon, quart, sandwich & snack). I’ll keep a stash of 2-Gallon bags in my truck as well, which are great for larger items.
When I work in garages, I also bring my work gloves, as I’m in an area prone to poisonous spiders (and I’ve heard horror stories!).
PRO TIP #1
Bring water to every session, and try to keep it in a bottle that fits easily on the side of, or in your bag. Not only does this eliminate the need to ask your client for a beverage, it means that you’re able to keep hydrated more easily during your sessions. As one of my favorite clients always says: “hydrate early & often”!
PRO TIP #2
Label your tools. Your clients might tease you for it, but it will make it less likely that your tools accidentally get put away in client homes instead of coming home with you at the end of a session.
As I mentioned above, don’t worry about having the most robust kit ever when you’re first getting started. Use what you have at home to create the kit you use with your first few clients, and build it as your company grows. We all started our business’ from scratch – things don’t have to be perfect, they just have to serve you well. Over time you’ll learn, grow, and polish your processes. I hope this article helps you as you level-up your professional organizing toolkit! If you implement any of these items in your business, I would love to hear about it!
Carly Adams is a Professional Organizer based in Sacramento, CA. She helps her clients get organized in their homes & businesses by working alongside them. Whether that’s helping them declutter, creating a Pinterest-perfect pantry, or helping a busy Mom re-examine the flow of her kitchen or utility closet – Carly is a self-proclaimed “organizational nerd” that loves to geek out to her clients’ benefit. When she’s not dropping off donations, she can be found relaxing at home with her husband and dog.
Getting started on your organizing side hustle can be hard. That’s why I created a guidebook to help! Check it out here.