Often when I'm meeting someone for the first time at an event, a party, the supermarket and they ask what do I do the conversation goes something like this:
Me: I'm a Professional Organiser.
Them: Oh... like a cleaner....?
Me: No, I work with people who are living with disorganisation to declutter and get organised, ultimately to create a relaxed and stress-free lifestyle.
Them: Oh! Like the Japanese woman on Netflix...?
Me: Kind of... it's a good starting off point though!
Countless people I meet have never heard of the professional organising industry. While others know of it through shows like Tidying Up with Marie Kondo they are not aware it's a thing you can do for a living.
So yes, Professional Organising is a thing, (which I'm assuming you already know if you are reading this blog). Still, there is often a lack of understanding of what we do by the wider community. In many cases, we are often mistaken for cleaners (as illustrated above) or as people going into someones home to tidy up.
Professional organising is a different profession than cleaning, which has a different set of skills, especially when dealing with trauma cleaning and is more than tidying up. Professional organising requires both expertise and experience. To help create a better picture of what a Professional Organiser does, I'm going to share with you some of the things I do.
1. Review & Assess
Before I get my hands dirty with decluttering and organising, I like to understand what is currently going on in my clients home and life. I want to explore the nitty-gritty of why they have hired me.
I take the time to review their current organising systems to find out what is working and not working for them. I like to learn more about their organisational challenges. I also take the time to understand what may be contributing to their disorganisation. In some cases, I discover that factors such as physical disability, age, ADHD, trauma, hoarding disorder, and other mental health challenges may be contributing to a client living in disorganisation. In other cases, it may be limited time, not knowing where to start or family responsibilities. Or it could be a combination of many circumstances.
The approach I take to review and assess a space will vary depending on the client. Sometimes, it will be a questionnaire/discussion and can include a tour of their environment. Other times I may use assessment tools like the Clutter Imaging Rating Scale, or a combination of both.
My role during an assessment is not to diagnose my client as this is outside of my professional boundaries. Instead, I'm getting an understanding of the cause of the disorganisation and how it's impacting my client. While each client is different, the most common discovery is that the clutter and disorganisation is causing stress and overwhelm as they are unable to function in their space. During the review and assess stage, the actual reason why a client has contacted me becomes apparent. It's not about having an organised home or life, but rather it's about being able to move forward with life and achieve their goals, for example:
having an organised spare room to allow a client to set it up as a craft room, that she can enjoy with their kids
having an organised kitchen to reduce the stress of preparing breakfast and lunches in the mornings
making better use of time to start writing a book
The review and assessment stage helps to get an understanding of what is happening in my client's world. Ensuring we are both on the same page and guaranteeing that suitable organising solutions are going to be implemented.
2. Identify Goals
Once I know more about the client and understand their current situation, I work with them to establish goals and set priorities. Goals can include:
to clear clutter off the floor to make the space safe
organising the paperwork to enable someone to complete their tax return
decluttering and organising the kitchen to make it more functional
creating routines to make it easier for a child living with ADHD to get ready in the morning
The priorities will depend on the client, but I will always make safety and wellbeing a priority.
3. Make a Plan to Complete Goals
Now I work with the client to come up with a plan to achieve their goals. Some of the things I do during this stage are:
breaking down the goals into small achievable tasks
identify how to manage unwanted items
review what additional resources we may need
identify what additional support may be required
4. Tackle the Organising Project
With the plan set, some clients may decide to tackle the project on their own. Alternatively, I can work alongside them to complete the plan. When addressing an organising job, I like to take a three-stage approach; declutter, organise and maintain.
I work with my clients to determine whether we can minimise the content of a space or a schedule. There are many different ways to approach decluttering from a logical approach (do I still need this?) to more of an emotional approach (let's go treasure hunting). The path we take will depend on the client. We may also work on establishing a suitable way to discard unwanted items; this can include:
Often the type of stuff will determine how and where it will go.
Now that we know what items are staying, we can now explore the best way to organise them. The organising process involves examining the best way to use the space based on individual circumstances and lifestyle. Factors such as age, height, mental and physical health, home life, work-life and available space all come into play when thinking about how to organise space or time.
During the organising stage, we will also explore suitable storage options. Storage solutions can range from repurposing shoeboxes to purchasing storage items; it all depends on the budget. The objective is to ensure the organising systems enable the clients to quickly and efficiently find what they are looking for when they need it. The organising stage is all about exploring new organising systems until we find one that works for the client.
The decluttering and organising process can be an emotional journey, and it can take time. It will require both patience and understanding. During the process, we will test different solutions some will work, and others won't it's all part of the organising adventure.
5. Archive the Goal
Once the goal is complete, we do a high five, and that is the end of the journey?
Actually, it's not.
Yes, we may actually do a high five, but the organising journey is not over. Now the maintain stage comes into play.
Organising is a process, not an event and the key to staying organised is maintenance which can include:
Maintenance is designed to ensure the client stays organised in the long run, while also acknowledging that backsliding may happen and that is okay, the key is to keep working on it.
A Professional Organisers role is more than tidying up. It's about understanding an individual's circumstances and developing organising systems that are suitable and sustainable for them. Once we identify the right organising systems, we develop a plan to keep my clients organised. Ultimately my role as a Professional Organiser is to give my clients more control of their space and more importantly, more control over their life.
If you would like to know more, please contact Joey.
Creating Positive Spaces
0401 149 185