Professional Organizing: Industry Secrets

Theresa Cashman
May 24, 2020

If the Marie Kondo Movement has captured your attention, you may be wondering: What does she know that I don’t know? It’s easy to get lost in our own clutter and not know where to start! If you’re feeling lost, here are a few factoids to give you some insight into how the professionals work:

1. You can’t organize everything at once. The first and most important thing an organizer does is talk to the client to see what areas are most in need, so choose one area to start with. It doesn’t matter how small your area is. I started organizing my life by organizing my purse. The idea is to finish one area before beginning others.

2. START. Start small, but START. Set time aside. Write out your goals, your big “why,” to refer back to when you’re tired or procrastinating, then START. Stick to your area, opting to sort things into no more than 10 piles. This will keep you from running all over the house, getting distracted by other areas. Starting multiple organizing tasks at once is a sure-fire way to burn yourself out before you really get started.

3. Recognize and acknowledge your feelings. This is where most people get tripped up. Facing our clutter can be very challenging. There could be painful memories associated with our clutter, or we start to question how things got so bad in the first place. Blame, guilt, shame, and overwhelm are common. Pay attention to where you’re at, but realize that you are SO far from alone. Find forgiveness for yourself when you need it, and recognize that the action you’re taking is improving on an uncomfortable situation and making your life better.

4. Without the memory, it’s just stuff. With the memory, it’s history. But that doesn’t mean you have to hold on to every ticket stub to remember the amazing concerts you’ve been to. It’s helpful to remember that the item isn’t the memory or the person you associate it to. I often encourage clients to take pictures of beloved items they no longer use or need. I’ll even set up a home recording studio for my clients who wish to pass down their stories, but not their stuff. 

5. Ease of use. Items should live where you use them. Make things easy to find, easy to use, and easy to put away. Fancy containers and bins are fun to buy, but if you’re not going to use them, save your money (and maybe hire an organizer instead!) 

6. ARC/Goodwill/Salvation Army donation sites are overrun. If you’re accustomed to sending your unwanted items to one of these donation sites, you might have to work a little harder if you want your upcycled items to find good homes. Non-profits are having to dump more and more material in landfills as supply outweighs their thrift shop capacity. Reach out to Facebook word-of-mouth groups or call your local professional organizer through for ideas of where to send your unwanted items. 

While we love helping clients in person, many of my counterparts and I have even been known to work virtually to coach clients who are feeling overwhelmed. One of our super powers is knowing where items can be donated locally, and finding appraisers and buyers for items of monetary value.

If these tips sound great in theory, but seem impossible to enact, consider calling me for some guidance. I’d love to help!