I don’t have clutter, I just need to get rid of stuff!

Reflection:

Embarking on a Journey in the world of Organizing. 

  • Put up your hand if you have heard the term Professional Organizer.
  • Put up your hand if you think you know what a Professional Organizer does.
  • Put up your hand if you actually know what a Professional Organizer does.

If my mom was still on this earth and I told her that I was organizing professionally, she would have laughed her head off, and then said something like ‘why didn’t you start with your room years ago’. Next she would have laughed some more and rolled her eyes.  However, I have been told over the years that its something I should consider, and I really didn’t have a clue what people were talking about!

Then, I decided I to start a business.

I came up with a fabulous idea!  Basing my decision on personal experiences with family members, and conversations with friends I decided to help people, specifically get rid of their excess ‘stuff’.

My thought was to offer a service for the more senior population (rather than young families) helping them sort through, eliminate and redistribute their belongings so they could feel more comfortable in their home, and to help relieve the burden of too much clutter.   I wanted to help my client’s complete tasks in their own time and in their own way contributing to a sense of wellbeing and enhancing quality of life.  I wanted to be that extra pair of hands and listening ear as I understanding the process can be daunting and challenging.

My target clients – the baby boomers and their senior, have acquired more ‘stuff’ than any generation previously and for several reasons.  They have lived in a general age of prosperity, they understand value, have paid for their belongings, and have bought them to last.  They have lived through changes in society coming into a computerized world and have transitioned and kept up.  Many have also inherited their parent’s estate and all its contents too.  With a mindset where you appreciate and hold on to what you have, and at the same time know its too much and a lot of it needs to go, can be difficult to navigate.

I personally know many people living with this predicament.  There are fabulous professionals out there that operate under titles such as cleaners, movers or even companies that specialize in downsizing seniors.  There are also people called professional organizers, but it became clear to me that many people don’t actually know what they do. 

The phrase hear most is…..

‘I’m not ready to downsize, I just need help getting rid of stuff now so it’s not such a big job when the time comes.’  

I also hear,

‘I don’t need an organizer, I don’t have clutter, I just need help getting rid of stuff cuz it’s all gotta go sometime’. 

Another phrase I hear is:

‘if there wasn’t so much stuff around here, I could use that space for….. most often it’s a guest room so they could have friends and family spend more time.

Another concern for my friends in this age group is losing control of what happens to their belongings.  If Aunt Clarice wants Jane to get the red polka dot teapot because it was a gift from her mother, she wants that to happen.  The fear is that in the downsizing process, nobody will recognize that that teapot is special, and it will be put in a donate bin or worse, just tossed in the garbage.

Family dynamics are a funny thing too.  In my family I have an aunt who falls into this category in almost all ways.  She has complained for years about having too much stuff and its overwhelming to deal with.  She has been offered help numerous times by me others, but she always declines and her reasons are:

  • She wants to host the visit, offer tea and a biscuit, and chat.
  • She also doesn’t want anyone’s opinion (especially from a family member) on what she should do with her stuff.
  • She’s lived with the clutter for so long now, I really don’t think she would know how to function without it.
  • She uses it as something to ‘talk about’.
  • A lot of the items are keeping her memories and her identity alive.

I needed to educate myself.

I became a member of POC (professional organizers in Canada) and started taking courses.  There are really big things I learned.

  • This is the right business for me!
  • There are people already helping people with their clutter or excess belongings or moving etc. and they call themselves professional organizers.  I had no idea!   

I also found out that the world of professional organizing covers a wide range of activities, and because of that, people are unsure of what they actually do.  The word organizing can mean so many things and different things to different people. 

Some organizers run very busy and successful businesses serving corporations, and others are just people who like to help people, and want to keep their client list small and personal.

My understanding of some of the various types of professional organizing are:

  • Personal, in home organizing.  These organizers meet with you in your home, help you sort through what you already own as you choose what to keep and what to toss.  They can offer tips and solutions on how and where to store items and how to make your space more functional according to your needs and lifestyle.  These organizers will also offer suggestions on organizing materials you may purchase, and some will help with the purchasing and installing also.
  • Personal designer, in home organizing.  These organizers will design beautiful and function living spaces in their clients’ homes arranging for and installing customized organizing systems.  Their clients are willing to pay for someone to come in and do the work for them, organizing their belongings, and creating systems for the homeowner to follow.
  • Business / office organizing.  These organizers cater to business owners, helping create functional systems for day-to-day operations and storage.  They can analyze and arrange work spaces to optimize functionality, as well as easy to use filing systems.  Some of these organizers also study and understand software and computer programs and can set them up according to the type of business and it’s needs.
  • Challenging or chronic disorganization.  These organizers work with clients who really do have trouble coming up with or maintaining systems in their homes and lives.  There are numerous reasons that a person gets to this point of needing help, some medical reasons such as a brain injury, ADHD, hoarding disorder or depression to only name a few.  Some people’s brains just function a little differently, perhaps in a more artistic creative way and they just find staying organized something they need help with.
  • Downsizing and move management.  These organizers often work mainly with seniors helping them transition from their home into a retirement residence or assisted living.  Working as a neutral party in a family situation or as an extra set of hands for a person on their own, as they pare down belongings and decided what they can take to a smaller living environment.

There are I’m sure more types out there, and a lot of organizers can and do offer a range of the types listed above.

I’m really not convinced that the term Professional Organizer really does the field enough justice.  Maybe we could come up with a more exciting, engaging, or sexier label.  Right now, I’m calling myself an Organizing Consultant, but am open to other suggestions.

Clear My Closet is now established as a valuable company specializing in helping people get rid of ‘stuff’.  Our services include, organizing, decluttering, downsizing, move management, estate clearing and deep cleaning.

We work often but not exclusively with people in the senior age bracket, as they rearrange their living space to enjoy their retirement years and beyond.  Our aim is to establish positive relationships with an understanding that we will be there for our clients whenever the need or desire arises to help deal with ‘stuff’.  We work alongside movers, cleaners, real estate professionals, donation centers, junk removal companies, whatever it takes to serve the client needs. We work for clients, their families, their neighbours and their community to ensure needs are met with understanding, care and dignity.

The services we (and other professional organizers) offer are as essential as cleaning, eating heathy food, daily hygiene, and having a safe place to rest and sleep. 

There are times when we all need help, and sometimes a little help just makes things better.  It’s always ok to ask for help!

More about me and our company can be found on the website http://www.clearmycloset.ca

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