Over my career as a Professional Organizer, I can genuinely say that of the dozens and dozens and dozens of clients I’ve worked with, no two are the same.
That said… with almost EVERY client, I tend to hear the same things. Similar struggles, similar pinpoints, similar concerns and fears.
I think there’s something we can all learn from what I hear from my clients, and I want you all to be able to take the courage of their questions, and the insights of my answers, and see how they might apply to your own life.
So, what are the top 5 things I hear from my clients??
1) Am I the worst you’ve ever seen?
I am always surprised at how often people ask me this, especially when I know for sure they are not even in a category that I’d consider being in “bad shape”. But it brings to light that one thing that many people who think about hiring an organizer have in common: They’re embarrassed that their home has gotten to this point, and it took an ounce or two of courage to accept that they’d benefit from help, and made the call to me.
I typically reassure my clients that they are not, but I approach it in a particular way: “Every client I have had got to the point in their own lives where they knew the wanted or needed help, and made the call. All my clients have a different breaking point for themselves. I’m glad you called me when you got to yours.“
Lesson for you: EVERYONE has spaces in their home, maybe their WHOLE home, that they don’t feel good about. It’s not something to be measured or compared to others. But asking for help? That’s the beginning of the upswing for many people. In fact, I find that some people, just by making the call to me to start thinking about working with an organizer, they start to tackle some projects on their own. Merely the step FORWARD starts the journey. But never be embarrassed to ask for the help of a professional when you need it. There is a whole industry of professionals like me, because there is such a great need of people who would be more successful if they had help and a partner in this journey. You are not alone!
2) I have no idea where to start.
I sometimes think, “If everyone actually knew where to start, they’d never need to ask for help!” It’s the biggest frustration I hear from people who’ve been feeling overwhelmed by their space.
By the way, there are a few schools of thought on where to start, and I have a conversation each time with a client, because the answer isn’t the same for all clients and all situations. I think about:
– What do we have room to do? Sometimes, it would be great to tackle a big job, but there’s just not enough room to really work and spread things out, YET.
– What seems to be the real pain point? If I left here after a few hours today, and we only tackled one thing that would make a big difference in your daily life, what would be top of that lis?
– What are you dreading the most? Sometimes, getting the WORST project out of the way can be uplifting and motivating.
– What’s EASY? For some clients, tackling a project and getting an early win can boost confidence and reduce fear about what this whole process is all about.
Lesson for you: So, when you’re thinking about your OWN projects, think about those questions, and figure out the loudest answer… that’s a great place to start! Tackle a project you know you can achieve in one focused approach, whether it’s a Twenty Minute Attack, or a 4 hour morning with the tunes blasting!
3) I’ve been looking all over for this!!
It’s my favorite moment of any session, and it always happens. Sometimes it comes out as “So THAT’S where this went!” or “Ugh! I just bought a new one of these because I couldn’t find it” or “I forgot I had this!” There’s a moment where the process of sorting and decluttering leads to a discovery. I am always happy to help someone reclaim something that was lost, and I know that’s part of the value of bringing in help: reclaiming treasure!
Lesson for you: You know this one: The thing you’ve lost is in the last place you’d ever look for it. Don’t go hunting for things. Go sorting and decluttering, looking to make progress on eliminating items and making better use of your space, and during that process, things turn up!
4) I can’t believe how much we got done in such a short time!
I work with a LOT of clients, on a LOT of projects. When I size something up based on my experience and say, “Yeah, this is a 4 hour project” and I get looks like I”m insane, you should see the look on the same face when we are DONE! One of the things I always do with clients is do a time check when we’re about an hour into a session. I stop and say, “So, let’s look around a second. We’ve only been at this for one hour. What do you think so far?” Usually, it’s amazement, and excitement to keep going, because we can see how much progress is actually happening.
Lesson for you: Don’t forget to do that for yourself: Mark progress as you go; it’s not all about being DONE. It’s about doing things that get you there, and staying focused.
5) Your home must be SOOO organized!
You know what I usually say? “Yes, it is. My husband and I are both good at being organized, and like being organized. But you know what else? We live in a 4 bedroom house with a full basement, and have plenty of closet space and storage space. It’s EASY to be organized when you’ve got way more space than you need, and we both approach being organized in the same way. But you know what? Right now, I’ve got a pile next to my night table you probably wouldn’t believe, and I stare at it most days and think, ‘oh, I should really do something about that’. I’m no different from anyone else: I know that Being Organized isn’t a destination, it’s a way of life. Some days, I am not so great at it, because life gets in the way. Don’t you hate that?”
Lesson for you: The magazines that are gorgeous aren’t real. Even professionals aren’t perfect. Figure out what you’d be really proud of in your home, what it would take to get there, and whether that is realistic for your life. It may not be. You may have to start smaller, “I always want my living room to look great, but I’m okay if the dining room always looks like Homework Central.” Make Being Organized a daily process, and forgive yourself when it just isn’t achievable. Remember, every day is a new opportunity to live the way you hope to live.