How to hire an organizer and be happy about it

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Originally posted 2012-11-27 22:08:29. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

sweaters folded by an organizer

When I’m stumped for blog topics, or I just want to see what people are saying about organizing, I go online and surf around. Today I came across a post from someone who had a bad experience hiring an organizer.

If you’ve had this issue or have read about it and been scared off hiring someone, read on.

A couple with a self-proclaimed “huge problem with Stuff” hired someone to help them maximize their storage, but not pare down. That’s what they asked for.

Working with a couple is tricky. Usually, one member is more organized than the other. I’ve gotten calls from people who want me to come organize them, but really it’s the caller who wants me to organize the other person. This does not work.

Problem #1: the writer says it’s his wife who doesn’t want to get rid of things but he does.

 

Before I meet with a couple, I clarify what they both want and note that I’ll consult each of them on every decision. Sometimes one will defer to the other. Most of the time, compromise is necessary (that’s what it’s like living with someone, right?)

The organizer they hired turned out to be pretty intent on getting them to get rid of stuff. Although it was uncomfortable for the wife, they decluttered significantly. However, no systems were designed to prevent the problem from happening again.

Problem #2: the scope of services was not clarified upfront.

 

Is the organizer helping you declutter, use storage better, design new storage, develop clutter-free habits, or all of the above? They don’t necessarily all go together.

Only three out of eight rooms were organized and the process felt rushed. It seems that they called a halt to the project because they weren’t happy. I’m speculating here, but the organizer may have bid the project based on organizing two rooms per day.

Problem #3: An estimate that makes you rush pell mell through a project should be abandoned.

 

Clients are right to want estimates, but there is no sure way to know how long an organizing project will take. Why? First, decision making can be a snap or agonizing and slow. Second, if you don’t know what’s in that box, the organizer certainly doesn’t. It could be miscellaneous paper and take two hours to sort, or it could be some books and a broken blender that you instantly deem to be trash.

What an organizer can guarantee is that she will explain the process and concepts behind her actions, facilitate decision making, make suggestions for maintaining the organization based on your preferences and abilities, and check in with you to make sure the project is on track.

That last part includes noticing how much has been done in the past two hours, for example, and making sure the client understands why it’s taken that time. The pace should make the client feel confident in making decisions and inspired by the level of progress.

The writer warns that after the organizer leaves, “it’s up to you to keep it up,” meaning that stuff doesn’t stay organized by itself.

Problem #4: The organizer didn’t explain properly to the clients that maintenance is their job after she leaves.

 

For clients with huge stuff problems, learning how to overcome them and then putting that learning into practice takes time and commitment. If the organizer also acts as a coach, she can help the clients stay focused and on track.

Many organizers offer maintenance visits and/or telephone coaching for that reason. Otherwise, it’s like coming home from the fat farm and going right back to your old eating habits. Now, that’s a waste of money!

Good communication is key when working with an organizer. The above problems could have been avoided with more communicating and explaining. What do you think?

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Procrastination Strategies

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Originally posted 2008-06-27 11:21:40. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

“Talk of the Nation” did a show about procrastination recently featuring psychology professor Timothy Pychyl and philosophy professor John Perry. I read Perry’s funny article about structured procrastination several years ago and I still laugh every time I read it. Not only that, it’s a good strategy!

Procras
A very interesting point that Pychyl brought up is that there’s no evidence of the “arousal procrastinator,” that is, people who work best under pressure and let things wait until the last minute. Arousal types are characterized by extroversion, sensation-seeking and reducing/augmenting behavior (of desired emotional states).

Lots of people believe that they do their best working right up to the deadline but apparently, that’s just an illusion. It can also be learned behavior, if that’s the only way a person has ever approached deadlines.

Another fascinating finding has to do with procrastination and self-forgiveness. A study to discover whether people would procrastinate less the next time if they forgave themselves for the current instance found that, yes, it did work that way.

The unexpected result was that this was much more true for the women in the study. One theory is that “procrastination is related to self-worth or self-esteem for females but not males.” Who knew?

A third interesting point Pychyl made is that all delay is not procrastination. It’s only procrastination when you set an intention to do something by a particular time. So, there’s your loophole…

[photo by ShereenM]

Top 10 Reasons to Hire an Organizer

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Originally posted 2011-08-09 10:40:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Is getting organized on your to-do list? You’re not alone. Unfortunately, for most folks, it just stays on the to-do list, year after year.

See if any of these scenarios sounds familiar. If they do, I can help.

  1. You want to have guests over without stashing things in the bathtub and praying no one looks behind the shower curtain
  2. You moved in two months ago and are sick and tired of pawing through those unpacked boxes to find your stuff
  3. You want to know what’s inside a drawer, before you even open it! What a concept
  4. Your child is a tireless art-making machine and the refrigerator door is getting saggy under the weight of it
  5. You started a home business and your desk is being taken over by folded laundry, stuffed animals and stacks of magazines
  6. You’re getting ready to move and the enormity (and expense) of packing up ten years worth of stuff you haven’t gotten around to getting rid of yet is beginning to sink in
  7. You can’t use your dining table because it’s the official mail sorting center
  8. You’re frustrated by continually paying late fees for bills that got lost in a pile somewhere
  9. Your guests sleep on the pull-out couch in the living room because the guest room is your storage unit
  10. You’re embarrassed by being late to appointments because you couldn’t find your keys

All these situations are painful and stressful. They’re also totally fixable! Find out how you can get relief by clicking here.

What If You Don't Want to Get Rid of Stuff?

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Originally posted 2011-11-03 08:44:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Organizing doesn’t always mean getting rid of things. It means finding places for them so that you aren’t tripping on them, distracted by them, maneuvering around them or always looking for them.

It means creating a living space that is pleasing and supportive.

You do need space to put things if you’re keeping them, however. I wrote a post back in June about curating your environment. Another aspect of that is cycling your possessions in and out of storage.

To continue the museum metaphor, it’s like treating your home like the Smithsonian Institution (the world’s largest museum collection). With the Smithsonian method, you have a moderate number of things on display at one time, for example. The rest, the majority, is in storage.

Every season, or twice a year, you put those things back in storage and select a new group to bring out and enjoy. There are two nice benefits here: you get to keep your beautiful things and you get to appreciate and get pleasure from them all over again. Even wonderful artwork starts to go unnoticed when it’s always there.

This way, your living space will be more like an art gallery, less like a warehouse.

Imagine visiting the Smithsonian’s basement and looking at objects set three deep on shelves that go up to the ceiling. Compare that with visiting the museum proper, where objects are placed so that you can really see and contemplate them.

Natural Organizing

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Originally posted 2011-05-03 13:55:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

You aren’t a cookie cut from a generic mold (even though you’re sweet). You deserve more than a cookie cutter approach to organizing. Methods you’ve read about in books may partially work, or not work at all. Or they’ll work for awhile but then something happens to make them stop working.

That’s why it’s so important to have your own personalized system.

Your system doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. It doesn’t even have to look like a system to anyone else. What matters is that it works and its flexible (to accommodate your expanding, changing life). It has to be simple enough that if you drop it for awhile you can pick it up again without much grief.

Mainly, your organizing system has to suit who you are and what your life is like, today.

That’s why I emphasize awareness and intentionality. You know things about yourself, like, you’d rather have things on a shelf than in a drawer. Here’s an example, featuring multiple calendars. Here’s another one, from me.

I’ve tried on several occasions to use online or computer task lists and I never stick to it. I revert to small pads of paper that I keep next to my computer. That works fine for me. Although I’m on the computer all day, having the task list on there just never felt natural to me. My hand was always reaching for a pen.

My system is not terribly tidy or photogenic.

It’s a cycle of writing down notes and to-do’s and then putting the notes somewhere for safekeeping (in Evernote, usually. So, yes, I do type them) and rewriting my to do lists by hand as things get done or just dumped off the list.

There’s rarely a time when you’d look at my desk and say, “my, how organized!” That’s because I just got off a call and have a page of notes, or I haven’t crossed off enough items to decide it’s time to rewrite my list.

It’s always in progress. Always.

Why does this work for me?

  • I like a to do list I can see all the time. I don’t want to navigate to a new window to view it. That bugs me.
  • I can easily experiment with new formats and schemes, such as making categorized lists, drawing different bullet shapes, or drawing boxes around tasks to highlight them. All these things can be done instantly with paper and pen.
  • I can stuff a list in my pocket and go out and do errands without synchronizing anything.
  • I can spread out multiple pages on my desk and compare them and reorder them effortlessly.

This is just one example of how I discovered a hybrid system that works for me, based on my reading, client experience and, mostly, self awareness. There’s no reason to use a system just because a book says so, or you paid money for it.

Want help discovering how to organize your time and your stuff in ways that feel natural and are easy and satisfying to use? I’m thinking up a way to offer you a free sample of this, so stay tuned! Or, ahem, go to the Hire Me page.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

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I’ve been reading Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Early in the book, she tells readers how important it is to start with a vision of how you want your life to be after getting organized. Be specific about what you want and also why you want it. No matter what your answer is, Kondo says the underlying reason is that you want to be happy. 

My free ecourse starts out with that premise too. If you haven’t taken it yet, here’s the link.

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IMG_3094I’m on vacation this week, writing my newsletter from my friend’s backyard in the desert. 

Although I have my laptop and my phone with me, I feel unconnected to my life at home, in a good way. Travel is a great way to unclutter the mind of the daily grind and relax.

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I’m really enjoying Kondo’s book. Many of her ideas are standard organizing practices, but many are new to me, especially her anthropomorphization of objects and her radical method of organizing everything “in one go.”

The biggest benefit to doing it all at once is that she says her clients rarely backslide, ever. Starting with a clear vision, handling each item and committing to keeping it means that her clients are highly motivated to maintaining their new lives. 

I would love to try out Kondo-style organizing with clients. I am thinking of ways I can offer this cost effectively. If you’re interested, please write me back and tell me what you think. If you’ve already done it on your own, I’d love to hear about your experience.

Another gem from the book:

“When your room is clean and uncluttered, you have no choice but to examine your inner state.”

It’s been said that people hide in their clutter and that constantly managing their stuff allows them not to deal with larger issues. 

On the other hand, finally dealing with the clutter gives you more time and energy to devote to your passions and goals. This post, an interview with Christine Arylo, shares similar views. 

Decluttering and organizing always also has the effect of clearing the mind and calming the spirit. Complete decluttering and organizing on the scale Kondo recommends has even stronger effects. To undertake that, you really need to be ready to lead a different sort of life, the one you’ve been dreaming of. 

Not Ready to Get Organized?

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Originally posted 2007-02-08 10:17:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

picture1Are you using “I need to get organized” as a smoke screen? You could be doing that without even realizing it.

Think about this: what would your life be like if you were already organized? If those boxes were all cleared out of the back closet, if all the Christmas gear were not still on the guest room bed, if those shopping bags of paper weren’t crowding your knees under the desk? After you finish basking in the wonderful feeling of accomplishment, you would realize that you now have no excuse not to start on … The Big Project.

Many of us have a Big Project (and sometimes getting organized IS the Big Project) that we should do, even want to do, but are putting off for some reason. Maybe it’s too big or too scary or too hard. Maybe it will make us realize something that we don’t really want to know. Maybe we will have to make some changes that will be difficult.

Relax, nobody’s going to make you do anything. If you’re not ready, that’s fine. Just don’t let the smoke get in your eyes.