Star Hansen encourages people to listen to the monsters in their closets. “Monsters are real, and the bogeyman? He’s in your closet,” she said at the beginning of her TEDxTucson talk in January 2018. “My job is to hunt them down and bring them into the light.”
As a certified professional organizer, productivity coach and speaker, Hansen helps people declutter their homes—and their lives. Her work goes beyond simply helping others organize their stuff: Hansen seeks to see through the chaos of clutter and uncover the underlying issues people are facing. She says she can walk into someone’s home and see the state of their life just by looking at their space. “I know who’s on the brink of a divorce, who’s doing well financially, and who’s about to file for bankruptcy,” she says. “It’s because the stuff tells our story, whether we mean it to or not.”
Hansen, an American who hails from Tucson, Arizona, and now lives in Carmel, California, uses her insights to help clients make peace with their clutter, so they can make peace with themselves. “The monster in your closet seems to be clutter, but when we delve deeper, we discover that we are the monster in the closet, because the clutter is actually an expression of us,” she says. “It’s not just stuff—it’s our inner storm; it’s our history; it’s our passion, interests, hobbies, joys and experience.”
Through her business, Reveal by Star, Hansen consults, teaches workshops and gives motivational speeches about organization to corporations, nonprofits, government agencies and professional associations. She has appeared as an organization expert on TV networks and is currently writing a book and preparing to launch online courses.
Hansen, CC, draws on both her love of public speaking and her Toastmasters skills to captivate her audiences. She’s been a member of three different clubs in addition to her current club, the Monterey Peninsula Toastmasters.
What made you join Toastmasters?
I had just started my organization business when I had my first appearance on a major U.S. TV show, The Tyra Banks Show, and it was so much fun. I remember getting on that stage in front of a live studio audience, and it just felt like a second home. It was so thrilling, and I wanted more of it. I think a lot of people join Toastmasters because of a fear of public speaking; I joined because of an obsession with public speaking. I just loved it. It acknowledged that there was an entire world where speaking was considered an art and a craft, and that was very exciting for me.
What is your definition of ‘organizing’?
Organizing is the process of gaining clarity and empowerment in ourselves with regard to the stuff and commitments of our lives, and then consciously setting our spaces, time and life in a way that supports our purpose, values and goals.
How did you become a professional organizer and productivity coach?
It was about 13 years ago: I was an actor at the time, and I didn’t love it. It just didn’t feel like me. I loved a lot about it, but I didn’t like sitting on set all day waiting for my minute to be on. I wanted to do something where I was being of service and locked into my purpose. I knew I was a healer, and I knew I wanted to find something that would let me help others in a powerful way, but that also blended emotional healing with a practical task where people could see measurable change. Initially, I thought I would do interior design, but organizing actually found me. I had people who recognized my skills in organizing and asked for help, and suddenly, within a few short months, I had a full-fledged career.
What do you like about what you do?
What I love the most is helping people discover their organizing genius. Even if someone hoards or lives in a high level of disorganization, my job is to help them realize they’re powerful and capable of change, and to start to tune in to their natural instinct for organization.
Most of my clients come to me feeling down after countless efforts to get organized, and my job is to help them key into their own unique organizing style. Clients will often ask me to help with a specific room (garage, kitchen, bedroom, office, etc.) but once they see the ways that organization sets them free in all areas of their lives, we move into the other spaces of the home. Almost all my clients start organizing with me, but then they finish on their own because they have mastered the skills and really owned that organizer within.
How can organization help improve someone’s life?
Whatever we are surrounded by shapes our experience, so it’s vital that we’re surrounded by things that lift us up and propel us forward in a direction we want to move. Most of us want to be surrounded by things that align with our values and priorities, but doing that often requires moving through painful places. If we can make peace with the painful places, and at least know how to navigate them or let them go, we can then allow ourselves more room for the happiness, clarity, success and freedom we’re really looking for. A clear space acts as a powerful launchpad for every area of our lives. Clutter acts as a distraction from living in the present moment because it is always pulling us back into the past or forward into the future.
“First you need to gain clarity of what is in the space, then you can reflect on how these items align with your vision for the space and your daily life.”
How do you help people become ‘masters of their time and space’?
I have two different methods for helping: A 10-step home organizing protocol for getting your physical state organized, and then a four-phase method for productivity that encompasses email, task management, time management and paper management. Both these structures guide people through the process of getting organized in a practical way.
When you organize a space, list what activities you would like to have take place in each space (three to five is ideal) and how you want the space to feel when you are there. These simple words will act as a road map for you as you choose what items will fill your space, and what items are free to go. If you feel overwhelmed and are not sure how to get started in the organizing process, start by categorizing. Look at your items neutrally (as though you were a stranger) and simply categorize them. This will help give clarity on what you have so you can make solid decisions about what you want and need. After you categorize, then you can make decisions. Too often I see people trying to jump from categorizing to creating systems … don’t try to solve everything at once. First you need to gain clarity of what is in the space, then you can reflect on how these items align with your vision for the space and your daily life.