The Organizing industry is truly a hidden gem. I couldn’t believe I didn’t know the industry existed until a couple years ago. Of course I was actively avoiding places like The Container Store. I knew if I set foot in there it would be all over. Poverty would follow. I knew I would love it and I’d go broke in 6 months. Truly. I had never been in the store until after I decided to go into this profession. And yes, I love it.
In the crazy world we live in, there are endless ways to help our clients. Most folks are at full, or over, capacity trying to keep all the plates spinning with their day to day lives. How can they keep up? How can they learn all the processes and tricks to manage their lives more efficiently and reduce their stress? How do they know how to declutter a closet efficiently and thoroughly? Enter the organizing profession.
You may have wondered how I ended up in this industry. The Business Analyst role did not entirely fit me. The analytical aspect as well as creating order was suitable. Mostly I was motivated with activities such as improving processes, streamlining and documenting procedures, and organizing online data. Then I had a conversation with a friend. We were talking about projects around the house and I was saying that I was doing some organizing and said something to the effect of, “I wish I could do this for a living! ” She said, “You can. That profession exists.” WHAT??!!!! (mind blown) And life has never been the same.
During my research I discovered there are several different national and international organizations that exist to support this industry. Who knew? One of their primary missions of these organizations is to get the word out that this industry exists and how our expertise changes lives. My research initially landed me at the NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) website. Here, as you can imagine, I relished every word and thought I discovered the “mother ship” for my people. Believe it or not this is worldwide phenomenon. Other countries have national organizations as well like Canada, the UK – even if they spell it “organise”, and of course Japan (as many of us are familiar with Marie Kondo and her book about tidying – which really just means organizing.) There is an organization that supports organizers who are helping
You may be thinking the same thing as you’re reading this. I get it. You don’t think organizing is fun. You hate it and find any excuse to do something different. We are all created differently. Thank goodness! When I have to do things involving say money, I look for all the distractions I can find. Squirrel!
What Do Organizers Do?
Some people think Organizers just put things away –like somebody’s mom (sorry I just had to). Others think we are administrative assistants, some think we plan events.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word organize as “to arrange or order things so that they can be found or used easily and quickly : to put things into a particular arrangement or order”. That just barely touches on the industry.
Currently there are two main types of Organizers: Residential & Business. Business organizing focuses on positively impacting businesses. Taking on goals such as gaining efficiencies, streamlining workflow, improving paper and electronic files, and coaching are typical offerings. Residential focuses on the home. For the purposes of this blog, we’re focusing on residential organizing.
I recently read an article about getting organized that basically told people the key is, “Things need to go where they need to go.” Well yes, but this doesn’t address the challenge many have in setting up an effective system of where things go. It doesn’t address busy lifestyles, multiple people in the same space, special needs, feelings of being overwhelmed or stuck. I could go on and on. I was really saddened by this person’s lack of understanding and compassion of the challenges of getting organized and staying organized. It reminds me of my bitmoji (app where the avatar looks like you).
Here are some of the questions and problems Organizers solve on a daily basis:
--Where is the best place to donate X?
--What places accept X as a donation?
--How can I sell this? Is it worth anything?
--I have to downsize and I don’t know how to figure out what to keep and what I’ll need.
--Where do I start – I have too much stuff everywhere?
--How can I make the best use of this space?
--What can I put my photographs in?
--What do I do with all my photographs so I can enjoy them? I have some digital, some printed, some inherited….
--How do I get unpack all my belongings after I move so that I’m efficient?
--And of course…WHERE ARE MY KEYS???? :)
Below describes the kind of help most residential Organizers provide:
Hands on Organizing
Organizers come to your location, roll up their sleeves and get things done. We come helping to manage the project, keep our clients focused, help clients work through their tough decisions, pack boxes & bags to donate or sell, and provide understanding during some very challenging situations.
Organizers help with offices – both home offices and home businesses. Paperwork is the main beast to be tamed along with creating processes that will save time and ensure success in the daily tasks that need to be done. Increasing productivity and reducing stress is key in this domain.
We live in a different world than 20 years ago. Life is moving at such a fast and furious pace that it takes a lot of stamina just to tread water much less make progress. We don’t have time to give our attention to everything that comes our way. We’re inundated with information and overwhelmed by our schedules. Enter, Professional Organizers. Organizers have studied the more efficient ways to “do life” and “get things done”. Knowing what works and what doesn’t work is key. Plus, we are all unique. Organizers have many tools in their toolbox so that if one solution doesn’t work for you, we have 3 more ideas. With the crazy pace of life, most folks don’t have the time (or desire) to figure out what to do with their old cable cords or how to manage their emails so they don’t miss important information.
Long gone are the days where everything you didn’t want was thrown in the garbage. Now excess needs to be disposed of properly and responsibly. Where and how changes constantly. For instance, until recently paper bags from grocery stores could go in the recycling bin, now you need to take it to certain retailers or recyclers. Who can keep up? Most Organizers will tell you they want to do right by society and the planet. This takes knowledge of how to get rid of “stuff”. Many Organizers offer the service to get rid of the items for their clients to ease the burden. Let’s face it, we Organizers want to free our clients of their unwanted items almost as much as they do!
Once the space is getting cleared and organized, storage will be needed. Organizers will “shop” in the client’s home to use what they already have first. Many times the client will not have all that they need to create an efficient space. New products may benefit the client in order to make a system maintainable. Things like a small bin or basket, filing folders, etc are sometimes necessary. Organizers can purchase the necessary items and have discount programs with some retailers.
Many organizing challenges are similar in nature. Organizers are able to help clients set goals, outline detailed steps, share resources, and provide accountability and management to a project. This can be done remotely using video conferencing or phone calls.
Many clients benefit from ongoing maintenance. These appointments are usually hands on organizing to make sure the client doesn’t get too far off track. Life gets full and staying organized can fall to the wayside. Through maintenance appointments, clients remain on track and don’t slip down the hole to disorganization. Life is always changing. People have babies, move, become empty-nesters, and take new jobs. During or after these times, new organizing systems will need to be implemented or systems that are working well will need to be tweaked.
Does the average person really need an organizer?
Most of my clients have tried to solve their organizing challenges for years. They’ve read books, bought bins, put up shelves, but are still losing the battle. They are discouraged, overwhelmed, distracted, and defeated. Life is harder than it should be.
If this doesn’t describe you, then you know someone who fits this description. They make comments such as, “I’m always late,” or
“I’m so disorganized,” or
“I can’t find anything,” or
“I haven’t filed my taxes”, or
“My home feels stressful” or
When my clients show me there spaces and reveal their secrets, I tell them, "well, you know what that's makes you: human." We all struggle with something. Many more people need organizers than realize it. If they don’t realize it, they’re experiencing the side effects of it but haven’t made the connection yet. They may be stuck in one or more areas of their life and their space reflects their “stuckness”. I have seen it again and again. Once they start getting their space in order, it comes: the joy, the clarity, and the creative, problem solving juices flow. It’s amazing to watch.
I believe we are all created uniquely. We do not have the same skill set, personality type, gifts, talents, interests, or challenges. We need each other. Professional Organizers meet a need that exists in this fast-paced world as we try to decide what to do with our parents belongings, where to donate special items, how to create systems that save time so we can spend our energy on the important things in life: Family. Fun. Health. Rest. Organizers usher in peace and reduce the daily stress in this crazy world. Really…… who doesn't need an Organizer?
clients that are challenged with chronic disorganization. There is even an organization that seeks to unite the various national organizations worldwide called the International Federation of Professional Organizing Associations (IFPOA). Who knew, right?
When I decided to become a Professional Organizer, I really didn’t understand the depth of the industry I was jumping into. My decision was based on my business-world skills, my natural bent (thanks Mom & Dad!), and life experiences of figuring stuff out while I managed my life and household. The industry thrilled me but I had to learn exactly what all is involved in helping others with their challenges. I found that there is A LOT more to this career than that meets the eye. The reach of our industry knows no bounds. It reminds me of physicians and how they have many specialties. Many organizers are generalists, but most also have specialties as well: hoarding, closet installs, garages, moves, residential, photos, ADHD/OCD, transition, time management, kitchens, eco-friendly, new moms….the list goes on and on.
It’s funny that when you have an aptitude for something, you originally think that everyone must think like you do. I distinctly remember an experience of organizing with someone before I “turned pro”. I was thoroughly enjoying myself feeling pumped as I was getting more organized. I passed them in the hall and said, “Isn’t this fun?” to which they snarled, “No, it’s torture!” What?
This brings up a basic philosophy in this industry: No judgment. Compassion and understanding are the tenants on which our industry is built. Most Organizers number one goal is to help. Does a personal trainer look down on someone 20 lbs overweight who wants to get healthier? Of course not or you wouldn’t hire them. Organizing is the same way. We exist to bring about desired change, to help our clients achieve their goals, to watch the excitement as their world expands and the fog lifts.
Most people I know have hired professionals in personal services with the areas of their life that is not their strength or they don’t have time to become an expert at, such as: personal trainers, house cleaners, therapists, personal coaches, nutritionists, etc. Organizing is no different. We are trained in many different aspects of organizing and have figured out multiple solutions to various problems. Ultimately Organizers are problems solvers. We view situations as puzzles that need to be solved.