5 Not-So-Obvious Things I’ve Learned as a Professional Organizer

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I opened my business on a whim and a prayer in September of 2002, relying on my love of people and my organizing instincts. As you can imagine, I’ve learned quite a bit since then, including the following five not-so-obvious things:

1) Papers are the most common organizing challenge for people. Papers quickly pile up without a system in place. I didn’t realize how universally challenging papers were until I started organizing. In the beginning, I feared paper organizing projects, but now actually enjoy sorting mail, paperwork, and setting up files systems.

2) Making decisions is the key to being clutter-free and organized. You must be ready to make decisions and let go of stuff.  Can you believe one client was so overwhelmed by her pile of dirty dishes that she decided to throw most of them out? Unconventional and extreme, but she made a decision and moved forward. 

3) Clutter and clients come in all shapes, sizes and forms. Sometimes clutter is hidden behind doors. Other times it’s easy to trip over. I’ve worked with people from 8 to 80 years old and in every circumstance imaginable.

4) There isn’t any shame in asking for help when overwhelmed. Most clients feel shame about not being able to “do it” themselves, but we all have our strengths and gifts. Mine just happens to be organization, but you really don’t want to hear me sing!

5) Organizing uncovers treasures. I love it when a client exclaims: “That’s where it is, I’ve been looking for that!” or when they find money and gift cards. We have even found items purchased, still in bags with their tags on. They were returned and the client recouped hundreds of dollars within a couple hours.  This year a client found a tiny box with $1000 stuffed inside and another client found a thick stack of savings bonds that netted her $15,000 when she were cashed them in!!  I love it when this happens!