What does a professional home organizer do?

Perhaps you have thought about hiring a professional home organizer, but haven’t taken the plunge just yet. Some clients come to me with a very clear idea of a project they would like my help with. We talk a little on the phone, come up with a basic plan, and set up a time to meet. It’s fairly straightforward. More commonly, though, I hear from people who express an interest in working with an organizer because they feel stressed, or overwhelmed by the stuff in their homes and lives, and don’t even know where to start. So, for those who are curious, here are the top 3 ways that new clients use a session.

  1. Taming the Toy Room – In a few hours we can go through a toy room, create parameters for deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, and set up some basic systems to help the space get (and stay) organized. Depending on the ages of your children, they can even be a part of the decision-making process.
  2. Sorting the Schedule – Modern families are often running from school to work to activities, with little time to relax and reconnect. We say yes to a commitment, enroll our child in a club, etc., and before we know it the schedule is full beyond our comfort level. In a 2-3 hour session we can sit and talk through your goals for your family schedule, assess where you are now, and create a concrete action plan to move you closer to your ideal.
  3. Clean out the Closet – Dealing with a messy closet is a stressful way to begin and end your day. When your closet is overly full, you can’t find what you want when you want it. Treasures are lost in the piles. You locate the shirt you were looking for only to discover it is wrinkled and dirty. In 2-3 hours we can pull out the contents of your closet, talk through what you truly need and make decisions about what can move on. I can guide you to streamline and organize your clothes, creating a neat and pleasurable space.

A success in one of these areas will motivate you to tackle the next organizing project! I hope you will contact me when you are ready to take the plunge!  In the meantime please check out my Tips and Tricks or answers to other Frequently Asked Questions on my website.

Budget Your Money to Budget Your Clutter

I know, I know, most people do not enjoy the process of creating and following a budget. My husband and I are a notable, and nerdy, exception to this. We LOVE a good spreadsheet. It helps you see where you have been and where you are now and helps create the roadmap to get where you want to be. A beautiful side effect of budgeting is that it often reduces how much stuff is coming into your house.

How does this happen? Clients often call me for assistance going through what they already own, in an effort to reduce the quantity and create space. This process can be undermined, though, when you continue to bring in more – more books, more clothes, more bulk paper products. To effectively cut your clutter, you need to address both what you already have and what keeps sneaking in.

Here is my three-month plan to help you see where your money is going, and to begin to adjust this to make your spending more in line with your goals and values. This is just a starting place, but taking this first step will put you on the right path. Lots of great resources are out there if you decide to create a more complete budget.

Month One: Write it all down. Every last penny that you spend should get recorded. You don’t have to change anything, but I would bet that you will. The simple act of putting pen to paper will pause your purchasing (that alliteration is pretty catchy!). You may start to write down a clothing purchase, and then remember that you own something similar already. You might jot down your takeout coffee and then think about the fancy coffee maker sitting at home. However, change is not required. This month it is all about accurate awareness of where the money goes.

Month Two: Write it all down, and choose one category to reduce. After the first month, spend some time reviewing your spending. It helps to create some broad categories like insurance, entertainment, groceries, utilities, and so on. Where are you spending more than you thought? Did certain areas stick out to you, like entertainment or recreational shopping? Choose one area where you would like to spend less and work to reduce it this month. You can set a dollar amount, require all cash purposes, create a “wait 24 hours before buying” rule, or whatever else seems helpful to you. Feel free to enlist social support. Maybe you have a friend who you always meet for lunch. Suggest trading off hosting lunches at home for this month, or picnic together if the weather permits.

Month Three: Write it all down, stick with your reduced category goal, and replace a clutter producing habit with a clutter-reducing habit. This month, your task is to identify one area of your life that tends to produce clutter and creatively replace it. One common example is books. If you are a buyer of books, try using the library instead. Then the books that come in also have to go out. If you are really attached to buying books, or your library doesn’t have all the books you need, consider a used bookstore. We have a fantastic one near us. We load up a box of books (which reduces the amount of stuff in my house) and sell it to our used book store for credit. We then spend the credit at the store and come home with “free” books. We didn’t actually spend any money. Instead, we traded our unused books for new and interesting books. Good for our budget, great for our space.

Over time, you will have an increased awareness of where your money is going and how your space is being used. The two are actually very connected. The great news is that a positive change in one area will usually have a positive impact on the other area as well. You may even start to enjoy budgeting like I do!