20 Dec Confessions of an Organizer: I Too Have Hired An Organizer
When people find out what I do they are always surprised: people pay you to do that?! I admit, I was shocked too when I found out this was a profession, but it’s clearly the one I was put on this planet to do.
Often I’m asked “Why hire an organizer?” and I can give you any number of reasons: get time back with your family; know where everything is; learn to have less stuff; etc.; but what really gets through to people is when I tell them I have hired organizers, too!
And get this – I haven’t just hired one organizer, I’ve hired 7! And that would even shock my clients because they know how organized I am (and have been since I was a child). But the amazing thing about the organizing and productivity industry is that there are so many unique areas and specialties that overlap with what I’m interested in, both personally and professionally, so hiring these colleagues made perfect sense.
So in chronological order I present to you the organizers and productivity specialists I’ve hired, and [starting with] the first one who ever hired me.
Back in 2012 I was fresh off a 2nd layoff in two years, and struggling to find a job in the arts industry (my former field). My father had always told me to “think outside the box” but art was my passion and I wanted to work in a gallery, an auction house, or a museum. I had accomplished two of the three and was eager to achieve the trifecta when I had coffee with a childhood friend.
“So last night I met a woman who is – get this – a professional organizer! Did you even know that existed?” She said.
“NO!” I exclaimed in shock, “But I could totally do that!”
“That’s exactly what I thought!” she countered. “I know you’re looking for a job in the arts, but she’s looking for an intern and maybe you can earn a little money while you look for your next art job.”
It sounded perfect to me so I met with the organizer who hired me to be her intern, and opened my eyes to the amazing world that is professional organizing and NAPO*. That organizer is Beth Penn.
Beth is kind of a big deal (though she won’t admit it). She’s a super hip mom and organizer, who has created a successful business and brand with Bneato Bar. She’s even written an international best selling book The Little Book of Tidying (Gaia; 2017).
I was lucky enough to be Beth’s intern for 9 months both while in LA and then even when I moved up to San Francisco with a new job in the tech industry. I assisted Beth onsite with clients, helped with her newsletter and social media posting, and even was sent to work one-on-one with a client of hers after only a few months. I was hooked! If I’d had the money I would’ve paid Beth to be her intern as the knowledge she bestowed upon me gave me the courage to start my own business 2 years later, after my third (and final) layoff.
At the very beginning of my organizing career I was lucky to get connected to Lisa Mark of The Time Butler. She was a wealth of knowledge and so supportive of me as a new organizer. At one point I even looked into working for Lisa but LMOI continued to blossom and it wasn’t possible. However, Lisa became my mentor and has been guiding me ever since. There’s no experience she hasn’t been through and always has a number of ways to approach a situation or solve a problem. We’ve roomed together at the National Conference, have mentor/mentee meetings every few months over brunch, joined forces on a massive move, and have even spoken on several panels together. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Beth and Lisa. If you are a new organizer reading this I highly recommend you hire a mentor!
In 2015, I was helping one of my weekly clients who is diagnosed with Adult ADD. After struggling to find a way to keep all her notes handy and searchable, she asked me about Evernote. I had heard about Evernote and knew a lot of organizers who used it but (just like you) I didn’t think I had time to learn something new. I was afraid of the on-boarding and how long it would take to learn the app. I also was worried I wouldn’t set it up right in the first place and it would be a mess. Plus like so many apps these days, who knows what’s going to stick and what isn’t. I don’t know if you can tell, but all of this was fear talking.
Enter Heather Sontag of Serene Space Organizing and Coaching who is an Evernote Certified Consultant (ECC) and member of my San Francisco chapter of NAPO. Heather offered to teach my client and me how to use Evernote in two virtual sessions. The beauty of Evernote, I learned, is that it’s perfect for those who are hyper organized (like me) and those with ADD who struggle with organization. We were both hooked after our paid training sessions and I even became an ECC myself.
Shortly after that I met a new organizer to our area (LA transplant like me) who offered a 9-week Feng Shui workshop (she does every year each Fall) and I thought, I can’t wait to learn more about that. I hired Michelle Powell of Some Like It Organized (is that not an amazing name for an organizing business?!) to come and do an assessment of my place and I learned so much. I immediately moved furniture at her suggestion, and it felt so much better. The course was a natural next step, and it helped me understand more about Feng Shui. I still use the basic principles today with my clients and also into my new endeavor into space clearing, which we’ll get to later.
Later that year I met Emily Anderson of MLE Insights who had just moved to SF from Philadelphia (where I lived as a child and also went to Villanova University). Emily is a Financial Organizer and her goal in life is to make numbers fun for us non believers. I’ve never enjoyed numbers or budgeting, so I had to take her up on the challenge. I hired Emily to help me review my spending and come up with a budget. In a few sessions she was able to help me understand my spending habits, make wonderful suggestions on how to spend more consciously, and helped me to get over that fear of money and budgets. Furthermore, she helped me find easy ways to make more money in my business by making just one small shift. She was right – numbers could be fun, and were certainly nothing to be afraid of. A few months later I enrolled in Emily’s Life Mapping workshop that really helped me to focus on goals I had been wanting to achieve.
In early 2017 fate brought Tracey Stanton and me to the same meeting in Santa Clara, and my life was forever changed. Tracey was trained by Karen Kingston in Feng Shui and then transitioned into Space Clearing from basic clutter clearing (what I currently do). I’ve attended multiple workshops that Tracey has put on from meditation workshop weekends to a Love Mastery course to finally her inaugural Space Clearing workshop this year. I’ve also hired Tracey as a business coach and she’s been helping me to work on relationships: not only with myself but with my clients. It’s been life changing! I plan to apprentice with her in the coming years to train more in space clearing practices as it’s an area in which I want my organizing to focus (holistic).
In 2018, I hired Kimberly Purcell of Amethyst Productivity (also an ECC) on as my executive assistant but also as a productivity and time management coach. Kimberly worked with me to see where I could make more efficient changes in my business to make it more productive, and she set up a CRM for me in Evernote. Hiring Kimberly was great because as a former organizer and someone who works with organizers, there was very little on boarding and she brought so much to the table. She’s taught me a lot in the last 6 months about productivity and efficiency that I use now with my clients.
Finally, after a year of delay, I hired Shawndra Holmberg of Dhucks and HYH Book Coach as my writing coach. In June of 2017, I came up with 15 titles for a kids book series on organizing and even wrote three rough drafts for three of them. But then they sat there – for a year (!) before I finally decided I needed a coach to help push me to write more, polish the books I’ve already written and guide me with it comes to publishing. My business was growing and expanding faster than I had imagined, so sadly my blog has been dormant since late 2015 (even though I love to write)! Shawndra helps keep me accountable weekly working on my kids book series and blog posts. She’s great to bounce ideas off of and help me troubleshoot when I run into writing blocks or other issues. I’m proud to say I have a few more titles for the series and have a 4th rough draft written, and am enjoying my weekly book coaching sessions where I get to finally sit down and write!
Phew… are you still with me?! Ok here’s WHY you should hire a professional organizer:
As you can see, these other professional organizers (all NAPO members and colleagues) who have unique specialties have all helped me get to where I am today and achieve goals I have set in place for myself and my business. The bottom line is they are experts in their field who offer coaching and most importantly (the key ingredient) accountability for getting to achieve my goals. And this is what any organizer does – helps you to achieve your organization goals by learning the basic tools and tricks of organizing, setting up systems that will be successful for you to maintain, and holding you accountable to getting organized by being there to go through it with you.
If you think hiring an organizer is too much of a financial restraint, ask a friend or family member to be your accountability partner. Set aside time for them to come and be with you (not necessarily do the work, just be there to make sure you stay on task) while you work to accomplish your goals – whatever they are: working out; a big art project; clearing out your garage. In turn you might assist them when they need an accountability partner for a task. Essentially you’re doing a more enhanced version of the buddy system we all used in elementary school.
So why hire a professional organizer?
- You can’t seem to do it on your own
- You don’t know where to start
- No one ever taught you how to be organized
- You want more time with your family
- You need an accountability partner or coach to help you set up steps to achieve a specific goal
- You want to tackle your fear by learning more about an area that they specialize in and they promise to make it fun
- They have knowledge that you can benefit from
- Because ultimately they are helpers who want to help you to succeed
Now how do you hire a professional organizer?
If you live locally to San Francisco you can go to www.hireanorganizer.com and click the ‘hire an organizer/find an organizer’ tab. We have 120+ members between Sacramento and Santa Cruz ready and willing to help you in all areas.
Or you can search for organizers worldwide by visiting www.napo.net and clicking the ‘find a pro’ tab and search by city/state or zip code. Make sure to adjust the mile radius from the default of 5 miles for better results.
Finally you can reach out to me any time to ask for help or tips (email is best). Now that I have Shawndra keeping me on task with my writing, I hope to have a newsletter out sometime in 2019. If you’re interested in receiving it, you can sign up here. In the meantime, you can read my blogs or watch any number of videos on my Let Me Organize It YouTube Channel.
If you’re thinking of starting your own professional organizing or productivity business you should check out the Stand Out Podcast (on your phone) or via their YouTube Channel.
Until next time…
*The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals