Decluttering to Transform Your Life w/ Layne Brookshire

decluttering home organization layne brookshire transformation

While trying to figure out how to be a freshman in college, Layne Brookshire would spend her idle time organizing her space. That habit spilled out when she would go to other people’s dorms or houses where she would do the same thing. Layne is a professional organizer and the founder of Ms. Placed Professional Organizing in Austin, Texas. She says organizing brought her a lot of inner peace calmed her anxiety over roommates, tests, and a lot of other things. After noticing that an organized space helped her focus and study, it became apparent to her that your environment has a huge impact on your productivity and your ability to rest in the space. Layne tells the whole story of how she catapulted into organizing and lets us into the importance of living life with intention, teaching your kids to be diligent with their own possessions, and when the best time is to get a professional organizer.

About Layne Brookshire

Layne Brookshire is the founder of Ms. Placed Professional Organizing in Austin, Texas. A Texas native, Layne first launched her business in 2011 as a personal assistant and organizer while living in Santa Barbara, California. For 3 years, her business thrived completely on word-of-mouth referrals from her high-end clientele, as she organized and decluttered their spaces to promote functional, stress-free environments. She quickly realized that people innately desire to live in organized homes, but often lack the time or knowledge to implement the necessary changes in their lives.

The move back home to Austin presented the perfect opportunity for Layne to combine her passion and experience to create a personalized luxury service for busy individuals, bringing order, function, and freedom from anxiety into the lives and homes of her clients. She commits herself to learning her client’s spaces, routines, and needs to create customized solutions to best fit their lifestyle. 

Layne’s passion for order stems from her continual experiment to streamline her world by removing both physical and mental obstacles. Her attraction to mindfulness, meditation, and self-growth equips her to work with individuals seeking similar life improvements. Simply put, she loves making life easier. Think peaceful, productive, and clutter-free. 

More recently, she's become an expert contributor to the Trulia Design Panel and coaches professional organizers around the world.

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Read the episode transcript below:

Meet Layne Brookshire aka Ms. Placed

I'm super excited to have another professional organizer on the show. We all know how you love to talk to professional organizers and hear all our tips, tricks, insights and secrets. I want to welcome Layne who is known as Ms. Organize out in the social world. Welcome, Layne.


Thank you. The business itself is Ms. Placed Professional Organizing. That's how you can find me on Instagram, @MsPlacedOrganizing.


That is awesome for everyone that's out there. Go ahead on your phone and grab her Instagram and you will be able to see the cutest spread of pictures. She's very color coordinated and automatically you go to her Instagram and you think this girl's got her organizing going on. I'm glad that you mentioned that. We're so glad you're on the show, Layne. I appreciate your time.


Thanks for having me.


A lot of times, I find in this world of professional organizing that it comes naturally to us and it seems like we were born this way or we have always loved organizing. It's funny because the longer you do it, you realize that not everybody thinks about organizing the same way as we do. Go ahead and tell the audience why you got into organizing, how long you've been doing it and why you started it?

"Your environment has a huge impact on your productivity, your ability to rest in the space."


A huge network of professional organizers that are my actual friends too. It's so funny how the world works and we'd become internet friends first before we meet in person. I have a big pool of people that are my friends that are organizers. A lot of people do have that story where we’re always organizing when they were kids. That was not me and my parents would say that too. I'm honest that my room was a mess but I would get to the point, where I felt overwhelmed and then I would do a total clean sweep. It always started in the closet. I would organize it in a way where I can hang out in there like the clubhouse when I was younger.


When I went to college, I started dealing with real-life anxiety and depression. I didn't think about it at the moment but what I noticed I did with my idle time is that I would organize my space. I would reorganize it. It brought me calmness when I was trying to figure out how to be a freshman in college. I'm trying to figure out how to be no longer the big fish in a little pond. Who am I going to be outside of what my family is and what I did in high school and all this other stuff? I noticed that's how I spent my time organizing.


When I'd go to other people's dorms, houses or whatever, I start doing the same thing because it brought me a lot of inner peace. It calmed my anxiety where I can't control a lot of things like who your roommate is going to be? Who's going to be up late in the dorm? When your next test is going to be? What I can control is my surroundings and the way that I feel because of them. I notice that an organized space helped me focus and study. That was when it first became apparent to me that your environment has a huge impact on your productivity, your ability to rest in the space.


I'm a big fan of not watching TV in your bed, not doing anything except reading or sleeping in your bed because that's where you're supposed to be resting. If you're watching TV or on your computer or doing homework on your bed, your brain is confused about, “What is this environment supposed to do for me?” If you use each space in your home as it's intentionally designed, your brain is able to check in and go, “This is where I brush my teeth, this is where I relax and hang with my family. This is where I focus and get my work done. This is where I rest.”


That's how I catapulted into what I do is organizing. I transferred, I went to school at Texas A&M University to get started. It was not a great fit for me and then I ended up moving to Santa Barbara, California. I went to a private Christian college there and then was working with a family as a personal assistant. They unfortunately were going through a divorce and they were putting their estate on the market for $29 million. That’s a luxury niche client right off the bat and they hired an organizer to help them separate their belongings between the husband, wife and the kids.


TMM 46 | Getting Organized

Getting Organized: The way you organize could be a totally different solution but has the same outcome, which is better space, a functional space, and less overwhelming visual for clients.


I was assigned to work with her for a couple of months and she thinks out loud. She would give me direction on what I needed to do next. I started filling in the blanks and was like, “This totally makes sense for my brain.” I know what she's going to say or I know what she's going to suggest. It made me valuable in return because I could suggest to her what I thought we should do in this space without her having to come up with it. That's where I went like, “You can be paid for this to do this.” People will pay you to do this, it's fun and it's super creative. You get to use so much of your brain. There's not a one size fits all for anybody. It's totally Tetris.


The way I organize or you organize could be a totally different solution but the same outcome, which is better space, a functional space and less overwhelming visual for our clients. That's where I got started, word of mouth clients in California. I moved to Austin in 2014 and officially went under on Ms. Placed Professional Organizing as my business name, from there it has taken off. Austin has a ton of people that move there regularly and that need organizers. I always feel the way that tech isn't slowing down anytime soon, neither is our need for consuming and people are going to continue to need organizers on the luxury level but also just throughout their lives. If they're able to let go of any embarrassment or shame that they might have associated with needing an organizer and go, “I need help. I can't do it all.” That's something with my business too, I can't do it all. I tried, I'm the one who's fatigued and I'm the one who's cranky or has less energy. When I started realizing outsourcing is what I'm asking my clients to do, I should definitely be doing that in my personal life as well as a way of practicing what I'm preaching for my clients to do.


It's interesting how you said, “A lot of people will say they can't do it all.” I've heard so many times where people will say, “Nobody ever taught me this.” Say I have a client, their mom wasn't organized or their dad wasn't organized so they had nobody that knew how to do it in the home, therefore they weren't taught. If it didn't come naturally then they grew up in that chaotic mess, they get their own home, their own children and they're not sure what to do. It snowballs from one generation to the next. There're tools and resources out there, women are starting to feel like they don't have to do it all. It's absolutely okay to ask for help. When it comes to organizing, women however many years ago admitted that they needed help cleaning their home. They're taking it a step further and admitting that they need help actually getting their home organized.


I like the fact that you mentioned how they can let go of that shame and that embarrassment. There's no reason to feel that way and we're all good at different things. It's completely okay to admit that. The other thing that you've said that was interesting is, as a professional organizer you had that feeling of when things were out of control or chaotic, you felt peace when you organize your own environment. I wonder how many other people feel that way in general. I know when I'm in the middle of a crazy busy work day, sometimes I need to take a break, step away from my office and do some tiding or decluttering. I can feel that sense of peace not because I can't work in it but also because the actual act of doing it makes me ease.


It's our version of meditating. That is me meditating, if I go and open the drawer or do some laundry, do my little file folding. I feel better and it helps me to not react to situations as much. Take some breath and instead respond to situations.

"Organizing looks good but it affects your life, too. It makes you a better roommate, a better partner in life, and a better parent."


That goes hand in hand with something that I saw on your website. Your favorite words to live by, the opposite of impulse is intention. I love how you say that because I feel when we do live life with intention, we feel less out of control. That's a lot of the reason why people hire a professional organizer because they feel like the stuff is controlling them more than they're controlling stuff. By actually taking the step to say, “I need some help. I need a professional come in and work with me,” you're being intentional and you're making a major change. A lot of times when you are starting to work with someone, do you usually feel like they're ready for that change? Do you feel like sometimes they'll jump the gun and they'll want to be that person but they're not quite ready?


I think they all want to be that person. Let me back up and tell you the quote on my website. Originally I heard it from the minimalists, which there are two guys that talk about the benefits of being minimal in their lives overall. I can't remember if what they put was the opposite of intention is impulse. It's not my original quote but it hits home for me so much because for me, putting the impulse word first because I'm such a reactionary person that the opposite of what I would already do is intention. Our clients want that when they originally come to us. Sometimes they're not ready and sometimes they're calling because they've been fighting a lot and that it was their husband’s idea. Sometimes the wife is not open to the situation yet but they always catch on. They always feel better as soon as you can alleviate, even if it's a little bit in one session. It feels better, it encourages them to go on and encourages them to want to make those life shifts. They'll start texting you after you've been there for a couple of sessions and saying, “I went through my bathroom by myself and it feels so good.”


I keep hearing, “What would Layne do?” They’ll send you pictures. I'm sure your clients do this too. It starts getting addicting because you're empowering them. Organizing is something everybody can do. It doesn't have to be a skill that you're great at. If it's not something you want to do, you can certainly call and ask for help, but it doesn't have to be this perfect magazine finished look. That's what's really popular in the industry and we can certainly do that for our clients. I also want people to know we don't have to go and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on products. We can use what you have. The best description or the best definition of organized space for me would be if I can tell a stranger exactly where to find something in my home. That's organized, it doesn't mean it has to be in the most beautiful box with the perfect label. Don't get me wrong, I love that but knowing where your belongings are and being a responsible and intentional consumer for your family.


I don't think parents that are not organized are purposely passing on these bad habits. When they're raising kids without organizing, habits in their lives or any sort of routine do pass on. That child becomes an adult who raises another kid who doesn't have those skills. If you teach a kid how to be organized, it makes a better roommate, it makes better partner later in life when they get married. It makes it a better parent for when they raise their own kids to teach them. Organizing looks good but it does affect your life. It affects how professional you can be, whether or not you can locate that email that your boss sent you a few months ago. That stuff is an impact or is a benefit of being an organized person.


When I have these clients that are doing too much for their kids, not having them get involved and being diligent with their own possessions, I'm always telling them, “You're raising somebody’s future spouse and somebody’s future employee.” It’s super important to teach these kids the lessons just as we teach them how to read, write and ride a bike because it will benefit them in the future. You don't want your child to grow up, go home at the end of a crazy work day, feel overwhelmed and stressed in their own lives.


TMM 46 | Getting Organized Getting Organized: Organizers are not perfect. They’re still human, and it's a daily thing that they have to check every time they think about buying or bringing something new into their home.


It makes you feel that you’re showing them as a better-prepared adult overall.


You hit on this a little bit in the beginning but I want to go into a little deeper. You've been doing professional organizing for nine years. I've been doing it for seventeen and I cannot believe the difference in the industry itself and how society is relating to our industry. When I started, I knew two other well-known organizers. A lot has changed and one of the things that are interesting that you mentioned is consumerism, on one hand, seems to be an all-time high. On the other hand, there's this underlying tide pulling us to want simpler, easier lives because we can't keep up at this pace. It’s a cool time to be a professional organizer because people with this expertise can go in and make a lifestyle change with our clients. It’s a tug of war.


There are things like, “I want simplicity,” but I have Amazon Prime. It's crazy what we consume and I find myself doing it too. We're not perfect just because we're organizers. We're still human and it's a daily thing that we have to check in with every time we think about buying something new or bringing it into our home. It’s, “Do I need this or am I getting it because it's at the dollar spot at Target and it's cute?” Some of it is cute and you can use it. Sometimes I'll find some good baskets there that I can use for clients. Most of the time and I've been a person that's done this, I walk away with four planners that were so cute and I don't need them. It's the middle of the year and I'm already working on a planner and I'm like, “Why did I do that?” It's not even the dollar spot anymore. It's like the $5 spot. That makes it easier not to spend. I don't go into any stores without a list. I do not shop for the sake of being there because I am the perfect person to catch the sale sign and convince myself that I need it. I'm very intentional that when I go into a space like that, I walk right past it.


I call it the Target Five-Minute High where anything you buy at Target makes you super happy and you feel high as a kite while you're buying it, in the car, on the ride home and then you have to ask yourself a month, two, four, six months from now, “Is this going to still bring me that much joy?” Chances are probably not. That’s where the consumerism comes into. It’s a big topic. I actually did a blog post on my site because I feel like so many people have asked me about this, I might as well talk about it. Marie Kondo's new Netflix series and it got me thinking where the similarities and the differences on the approach of organizing. A lot of ways I find that I'm similar to her but in a lot of ways, it couldn't be more different. Have you been hearing a lot about that? If people asked you as a professional organizer what your opinion is and what you think about it?


I love that it's reaching the masses. Once it goes to Netflix, people watch it and once people see the conversation around it on Facebook or Instagram, even if they weren't originally drawn to watch it, they're watching it because they want to be on the current event conversation. If I can get my husband to watch it with me, that would be great.

"Anybody is the perfect candidate for organizing because everybody gets stuff, everybody has a schedule."


I have to tell you, I tried. I knew I was in the middle of writing this post and I was telling my husband, “You have to see what I'm talking about. I'm going to show you that clip of this adorable little Japanese organizer.” He's watching this for maybe ten minutes and then all of a sudden he conveniently had to go take a shower and he didn't come back. I said to him, “Were you not interested in that show?” He was like, “Not at all.” I said, “A lot of why I wanted you to watch it is because this is affecting our industry.” A lot of what she was doing is similar to what my life is every day. It happened to be an episode about a woman who was a new widow and she was having to let her husband's clothes go. She was emotional. I don't know if he didn't like that part but I said, “This is what I deal with. This is my life and you're getting to see inside of it.” He was not interested.


It’s because he lives in an organized home. That's a benefit he gets from marrying you. My husband's the same way if I got advice on organizing, he forgets all the time that I'm the expert. He'll push back and I'm like, “This is what people pay me to do for them.” That's what I like about it too. I want to know what's going on in our industry surrounding the show. What I loved about it, it is a little slower, especially if people aren't in the industry. It affects people that are in the industry and it affects people who are affected by the clutter in their home. Those are the two audiences that it hits the most. I love it because I get to see and show my family that I had the same intention. I want you to see how these clients respond to this. This is what our clients feel when we come there. It can be overwhelming, it can be emotional and it is worth it every time. For me, I had a lot of people texting me and even clients that we have projects coming up and they would say, “Do you do like what she does? I watched this episode.”


The biggest thing for me is that I will do a lot of the work for you and we can cater. If you want a beautiful job or if you need to purge, your mom passed away and you need to touch every single nightgown. We can go slow. Whatever the client needs is my process. We do a lot more of the work than they show on the Netflix series. It shows the clients doing a lot of the work. Particularly for me, what I'm selling is the message to my clients anyways is that you don't necessarily have to take two or three weeks out of your life to do this. You have the resources to use the internet.


Find an organizer, call us and you can carry on about your life and we'll take care of the work for you. Let us take this headache from you without missing a beat, missing a soccer game, gymnastics practice or having to step back from your family. I do like them to be involved a little bit in the purging but stuff is stuff and it's unique to you but it's stuff. An example when their clients are always saying, “How do you organize without me there?” An example I always use is like, “All the crayons go together, all the Sharpies, all the pens and all pencils and that's what you do with anything in the house in general.” I'll come and ask them, “Here's your pile of 67 Sharpies.”


Once you can see them all together, that's where they go, “I don’t need that much of that category.” I can do the sorting first and then bring them in to see how much of each category to do the purging. I loved that she involved them. I loved that she has them talking to the clothes and saying thank you. That's not something I always have time for because we work in three or six-hour packages. I want the clients to know we work quickly and you're going to get the most bang for your buck if you follow what our advice is.



We can certainly slow down with you, especially when it's related to somebody who's passed away or it has an incredibly sentimental memory for you. I love to sit and talk with the client about that. That's part of what makes me great at what I do. I was telling you this, I've just found out about this but there's a term called HSP. It stands for Highly Sensitive Person. It's what gives me a superpower when I'm working with my clients. If they're laughing, I can totally feel their energy and I can be right there with them. If I can tell that they're being quiet and pulling away, I feel that even without having to look at the client.


If we need to sit on the floor, hug, and cry, I know what the client needs. I know how to meet them there emotionally and also switch back to a positive attitude quickly if that's what they need. I'm always checking in with my clients and letting them know it's okay if you're feeling worn out. If you're feeling a little too emotional, let's shift gears and go to the junk drawer. If nobody has emotions around the junk drawer most of the time. Taking their temperature basically and adjusting the session towards what the client needs that day, with keeping their overall goal and expectations in mind and guiding them towards getting there at the endpoint.


Getting Organized: Everybody needs help pulling their life together, whether it's hiring an organizer or seeking continued education or podcasts where they can listen and pick up tips.


It's funny that you're saying that. That's why I love talking to other people in the field. It’s like we are comparing ourselves to Marie. The cool part about this field of work is there are a lot of underlying similarities that go beyond being good at seeing space, being good at categorizing and being good at deciphering what should stay and what should go. When you brought up about the HSP, I had never done much research on it and I have never given it much thought. As you're speaking to me, it's the same exact feeling and it's the same exact gift that we carry.


When I go into a home, I say a prayer and I ask God to use me to help my clients. It's funny when you're saying Highly Sensitive Person to me, I was thinking, Holy Spirit Perception. I ask the Holy Spirit to come in and I want to be used to help them as much as possible. A lot of times, you feel what they need and know how to shift from crying, laughing to getting down to work. One of my favorite parts of the job is people share a lot with us, they open up. You feel connected to them. I become friends with a lot of my clients and work with them for many years.


The other thing that is interesting on how this has changed is that since shows like Marie's and other things that have been on HDTV and Netflix, it shows other people out there what we do and we don't go in to judge, we truly don't. We go in because we want to make a positive impact on their life. That gives our work so much more of a deeper meaning. I know for you and for me, we can leave feeling that we've done something positive for them. The cool thing is we can do it without them because women are busy. They can't give up three weeks of their life to focus on organizing their house usually. That's one of the big shifts. We are going in even without the client a lot of times, doing the work and making it easier so that a working mom can come home. She can go through a couple of piles, make decisions but most of the hard work's done.


It's a totally judgment-free zone for me, even in the most cluttered homes that I've seen. Sometimes I have, “What am I going to do here?” moment. That's probably with every new client no matter what because my brain goes to the big picture first and then I go, “How do we break this down?” Even still, I don't see their mess and run away from it. I feel completely energized. I've never gotten a runner's high. I don't even believe that's a real thing. You get that from working, especially in the consult where I'm like, “I don't even go to make the sale. I'm there because you called me and you said you needed help. I come to see your space and I'm excited to tell you I can help you. I can't wait to alleviate this space for you because it's not impossible. It's not this overwhelming task that we're going to fail, you're not going to fail because I know what I'm doing. I'm going to teach you what I'm doing or I can come and maintain the space for you, if you don't want to learn, that's okay too.”


We've got it all over the spectrum. It's energizing and this is my way of giving to people. This is what I can share with the world, my spiritual gifts, so to speak. I’m excited that it's becoming more well-known. Even with girls that come to work for me, I've got a team of organizers and I love getting to help them reach clients that they can help too. It's awesome to pass that joy onto them because they're getting to do this thing. Some many people are saying, “What is professional organizing? I can't believe that's a thing.” It feels awesome to connect them with clients as well and know that we get to help more people that way. I can only be in so many places but we can be in multiple homes with multiple teams of organizers in Austin.


I ask myself the same question, “How can I help more people with the time that I've been given?” I will still say my favorite thing is the one-on-one, working with a client, watching their life evolve, seeing them over the years. It started out like, “Can you help me organize my closet?” It turns into time management and goal coaching. The next thing you know, they're living the life of their dreams. That to me is where it's at. It’s funny because I always was thinking about having a conference and we're launching it. Actually, having a conference that ties in those spiritual gifts with getting organized and clearing clutter so that you can go out into the world, live your purpose and use your spiritual gifts.


That to me is the ultimate purpose for doing what I do, not to say you want to get organized and declutter your life so that you can become a professional organizer. It might be so that you can be a better mom, a preschool teacher or start a new business. I feel like if we are not distracted by clutter, we can literally go and change that corner of the world. You're freeing up what I call STEM, which is your Space, Time, Energy and Money to give to something greater. You know as well as I do that when you can do that every day when you get out of bed, there's no better feeling.


People will say, “Who's the perfect candidate for organizing?” Anybody is the perfect candidate for organizing because everybody gets stuff, everybody has a schedule. It could be anything. It could be high intense CEO level or it could be a stay-at-home mom, who doesn't have to work or even doesn't have kids yet. Everybody needs help pulling their life together, whether it's hiring an organizer or seeking some continued education or podcasts like this one, where they can listen and pick up tips. It's empowering to say like you were saying, “We live in a world now where it's okay for women to work full-time.” It's actually celebrated, starting their own businesses, asking for help and saying, “I've got a team of people and we have grocery delivery, organizers, maid services.” There are so many resources available in our society. It’s creating more stuff like that to help people do it all basically, where they're not the ones doing it all themselves, but you can have everything that you want in your life.


Tell us where we can find you.

My website is and my Instagram handle is @MsPlacedOrganizing. I'm also on Facebook with Ms. Placed Professional Organizing. You can email me if you have any questions at [email protected]. I'm a chatty person. I've never let an email go unanswered. If you have questions about the organizing industry, I would love to help you there. If you have questions about working with an organizer or you're looking for someone in your area, I would be happy to point you in the direction there as well. I do have a big network of organizers all across the US and some internationally even if you can’t believe it. I would love to be helpful in any way to anybody that has questions for me.


Thank you so much for being on The 29 Minute Mom. I really appreciate it. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to share all the tips and resources.


It was fun. It felt more like we were hanging out. I loved it. Thanks for having me.


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