Why would anyone hire a professional organizer?

alisa-anton-692066-unsplashPhoto by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

It’s GO Month (Get Organized) according to the National Association of Professional Organizers, so it’s a great time to answer the question:  why would anyone hire an organizer? Well, I have been doing this for over 23 years now and the answers are pretty much the same; they fit into three categories.

  1. “I am so overwhelmed by all of the stuff that I have that I am actually losing things, like the bills and invitations, and clothing.  Each time I try to get a handle on all the paper and my clothing, more paper and more clothing seem to come in.”
  2. “I just don’t have the time and/or the patience to deal with all my stuff.  And frankly, I hate organizing it. Why not hire a professional who can take that burden off my shoulders?”
  3. ‘I really like being organized but I have no clue where to begin.”

Other reasons come into play as well, but these three are what I hear most of the time. People often call me because a loved one needs downsizing, or is a hoarder living in a dangerous situation.  Yes, I specialize in helping hoarders. Clients with hoarding issues can be tough, but helping them is so fulfilling during and at the end of a project. Hoarders need tremendous compassion, patience and tough love. A tricky combination.

I also love when a client calls and asks me to create systems for him/her.  Whether it be paper filing, computer filing or home items, i.e., kitchens, closets, bathrooms, storage.  I am a believer that you must break down the clutter before you can set up the systems and I am one of those organizers who tells clients DO NOT BUY ANYTHING at the Container Store or Target or anywhere else until we see what kind of space we have to play with.  Don’t get me wrong. The Container Store and upscale organizing products are my crack! I love boxes, and shelving, and hangers, and matching bathroom and desk accessories and oh my God! I adore linens! But I have seen too many new clients who have gone out and spent a great deal of money on items they will never use and then it’s a question of whether they get it together to take these things back to the store and get their money back.  Nine times out of 10 it becomes more clutter.

Paper clients have discovered that I am able to not only sort out what is a necessary keep, but what items may actually allow them to reclaim money.   We go through all paper and throw out those items that are not needed for finances, taxes, calendar events, and important memorabilia. To be able to get taxes in on time, use coupons successfully, and carry out appointments because they are actually found on the calendar, makes life so much easier to navigate.  The discovery of new found money or an old stock certificate that is now worth something is such a wonderful and welcome surprise.

I have many years of experience in assessing quickly and efficiently what a client needs by way of organization. I’ve seen everything. Systems for paper, memorabilia, art, closets, clothing, books, hobbies, tools, kitchens, garages and attics – I’ve done them all. There is an extraordinary sense of relief and lightness that my clients feel after their overwhelming clutter is addressed. For many, their houses are now open and clear and organized, and they can invite friends over for the first time in many years. Such a gift!

Organizers come in all shapes and sizes.  There are those of us who are just starting out, having been stay-at-home parents.  There are those of us who come to organizing from different professions but have a knack, an ability to see clear uncluttered space.  There are those of us who absolutely can’t stand dealing with paper, and those who love just organizing pantries and closets. Hoarding is tough for all organizers, but with some seasoning an organizer can find incredible satisfaction with those clients.  But one of the things I think a really good organizer must have is a willingness to get down and dirty. Telling a client what to do, homework as it were, doesn’t always work. Clients need you to do the work with them, and they appreciate it. And I personally believe you have to connect with your clients, have an emotional understanding of them and their needs and issues.  I want my clients to know who I am, so that they feel we are on fair and equal footing. I am not superior, but I am there with the skill set to tackle something that they have difficulty doing, and to always tackle it with a smile and flexibility. 

If you find yourself in need of extra guidance, please contact me at claudia@taskier.net or (202)253-9619.

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A 4-Step Assessment to De-Cluttering Your Home

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Stuff.  We all have it, some more than others. Stuff is the things that we have bought, found, inherited, collected and happened upon.  Some of the stuff might be valuable, some might just be worthless but we liked it at the time and westill have it.  To me, stuff is like stuffing; it fills up the space but doesn’t always have a real significance, to my life, to my needs and to my existence.  So why do we have all of this stuff?

It makes us feel full, warm, safe.  But it also causes us to be sluggish, and worn down because we are always worrying about the stuff and where it belongs, and how to take care of it, until we stop and it consumes us, and takes up too much space and way too much effort.  We spend lots of money on storage units to keep the stuff that has no room in our homes, and we forget about it anyway.

I wouldn’t say I am a minimalist.  Far from it. But I think collecting and keeping things has to have significance.  There is the saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” and that is true, but things that have an expiration date, such as newspapers, magazines, old bills, and even clothing that hasn’t been worn in a very long time, take up space, create dirt and dust, and really clutter the environment.  And old expired food, cosmetics, medicines and prescriptions, go one step further; they can become a health hazard.

We need to really think about what we save, and why we save it.  Does this stuff really give us joy? Wouldn’t the freedom from stuff give us clearer direction and an opportunity to explore and pursue a more fulfilling life?  If everything you keep has an active purpose, I say keep it. If you are keeping things because you think you might use them someday, do a real assessment of those things.

So, how can you do a real assessment?  Actually, it’s relatively simple.

  1. Tackle one space at a time 

When you look at everything all at once it can be overwhelming (and you might just want to quite before you even get started). By choosing a single space – the smaller the better – the task will feel less daunting and you’ll have the stamina to finish the entire assessment process. 

2. Touch each item and ask yourself, “Does this have real sentimental value?”

Does this item “spark joy”?  Is it functional in your life? If answering yes to these questions, keep it. It brings you joy, makes you happy, and has a useful function in your day-to-day. If not, however, it’s time to say thank and goodbye. If the item will never be used by you, you do not have to feel guilty about releasing it.

3. Make a quick list of where you would like items to go 

Is this an item that can be donated? Can it be sold? Is it recyclable? Making a list of where items can be disposed will be useful when it comes time to send them off on their next journey. Unopened makeup and toiletries can go to a shelter. Unopened and unexpired foods, also to a shelter or Food Bank. Personal papers to a local municipal facility that has shredding days, a shredding company, or to a company like UPS which does the shredding for a fee as well.  Lightly worn clothes and homeware can be donated or sold. And of course, recycle items based on what’s acceptable in your city’s recycling program. 

4. Sort and dispose

Once you’ve decided which items have sentimental value, which do not, and where you’d like to send the items you’re getting rid of, sort them into piles and use big heavy duty garbage bags or cardboard boxes to collect in each disposal category. Once the items have been sorted, send them to the shelter, donate them to the thrift store, sell them, or take them to the curb on your next recycling day. 

When you’re finished tackling each area, you’ll see that you have more space to work with, whether it be to use as a staging ground for the next stuff or simply to admire. And, don’t be discouraged. It took time to collect the stuff, and it will take time to get rid of it. Just know that when you donate and give away, you are giving something of yourself to share with others who will really appreciate your generosity.

And, if you can’t do that on your own, don’t be afraid to hire someone to help you. The Organizer offers digital and in-person coaching to help you declutter, organize, prioritize, and spend more time doing what you love. Contact us at (202)253-9619 or claudia@taskier.net.