professional organizer

  • Time 4 Organizing

    My Journey of becoming a Professional Organizer

    When I was growing up in ex-communist Albania, I remember I wanted to be many things but I can say for certain that Being a Professional Organizer never crossed my mind. I don’t think it was even a thing back then.

     

    I wanted to work in different embassies around the world, live somewhere else and experience other cultures. The latter part I achieved although not quite in the way I’d thought. Hello USA 🙂

     

    I wanted to be a teacher and I did teach English and French for a while. I have a lot more respect for teachers anywhere because my mom was one for her whole life, but mostly from my personal one-year experience at this amazing and humbling profession.

     

    I also loved numbers and logic.  Math was my jam. I found comfort in solving problems, and knowing there was certainty at the end. I still do, to this day after much gray hair and wisdom have happened. I went and became an accountant because at that time a straight-A student wanting to make a comfortable living could either become a respectable doctor, a lawyer or an accountant. Funny, eh?

    A Professional Organizer was not even in my radar.

    People always ask me why I started my business. There was a light bulb moment to be honest with you (I can tell you the date, exactly where I was and what I was doing, lol) but it wasn’t an overnight decision. I always describe it as the end of the journey of finding myself. It is home, it is me.

     

    Most of us have sort of a semi-conscious internal idea or checklist of who we are, where we’re going and how we’ll get there. What we do in our daily life may or may not check off all the little boxes on that internal checklist of what makes us happy.

     

    Running one of our family restaurants in Powell, Ohio for 6 years was very exciting, challenging and certainly stripped me of my shyness and pushed me out of my comfort zone. To put it mildly. In hindsight, perhaps it was a necessary growth step in my journey. Isn’t that how it all works out?

    Everything that has happened to you has led you to now.

     

    After a while, you know deep down of what is right for you and what makes you ultimately happy. Some of us are lucky to find that job that ticks off all the items on our fulfillment checklist. Others will keep searching, inside and out.

     

    I had this deep desire to connect with others, to help and be of service. I could not save a life by doing surgery like my amazing grandparents did, I didn’t have the lifelong patience to be a teacher like my mom. I could not work in embassies and get involved in foreign politics. Too late for that. That wasn’t me. That little bit I had figured out.

     

    What better way to make the world just a bit better than using my talents of making sense of things and emotions that wrap around them?

     

    After being a mom of 3 with over a decade of experience by that time, I knew all too well what families were struggling with. I knew first-hand what a full-time working mom faces each and every day. I had been that mom.

     

    I knew how hard it is for a stay at home mom too, keeping it all together and trying their best. I had been that mom.

     

    I had been the 9-5 job mom, part-time work mom, self-employed mom, restaurant manager mom, accountant mom. You name it. All part of the journey of not only understanding myself but also being able to relate to so many other folks out there today.

     

    I experienced first-hand that life can get crazy busy. And a disorganized house really was detrimental to my mental and physical health. Stress and anxiety would take over if I did not have proper systems set up at home that enabled me to keep things in check and have time for what mattered to me the most.

     

    Yes, this is what it was all about. Making time for what matters.

    Investing in some time to get organized, maintain the systems you set up, so those systems keep working for you.

     

    With that knowledge, I created my business so that other busy, professional families can make time for what’s important. Whatever that means at any moment, I wanted others to break free from the chains of clutter and disorganization and live their best lives possible.

     

    You should be able to spend time with your loved ones, making connections, pursuing hobbies, taking up new passions, playing with the kids, growing professionally, traveling or just doing a whole lot of nothing, relaxing on the couch sometimes which is perfectly A-OK. It all should be done at YOUR terms though. When life demands it or when you choose to. Not putting out fires day after day and just surviving at parenthood and life.

     

    I want you to stop being a prisoner of the mess, the lost time wasted looking for things and the guilt and shame that comes with the thought that there should be a better way. Life should not be spent chasing after piles of stuff to find what’s needed and wanted.

    Yes, let’s make Time 4 Organizing so that you can have time for what matters to you.

    That is a not so short story of how I started my business.

     

     

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  • Will it stay that way?

     

    This is an interesting question I get asked on a pretty regular basis. Many people don’t think they can maintain so they don’t even try. Here’s my Professional Organizer’s take on a recent work session:

    I was finally placing labels on the new bins and putting on the finishing touches. The pantry looked perfect.  We had powered through three hours of completely reorganizing the space and it looked like an organizer’s dream.

    Then, my client stepped back to look at it and there it was. THAT question again:

    “Will it stay that way though?”

    I could see the doubt and hesitation in her eyes. No there was nothing that did not make sense from the pantry. Yet, this question has surprisingly surfaced quite often with many of my clients and especially doubtful family members.

    Think about it. It probably has occurred to you too. You see something pretty, an organized shelf, a neat room, an awesome playroom and you think to yourself:

    “That could never be my house”, or “that wouldn’t last the weekend with my kids”.

    The thing is while you might be right in some instances of staged photos and unrealistic house settings, in many other cases you are NOT.

    Unless this is a case of a more extreme disorganization or underlying psychological personal issues, there is no need to be hesitant to get organized just because you think you can’t maintain it.

    Questions and doubts :

    “Oh yes it looks gorgeous because you know what you’re doing but I don’t know”

    “I might have to bring you back here every week to keep this up!”

    “Do you think I can maintain this?”

     

    I am here to tell you that yes, you can and this is why:

     

    • You made the best investment and worked with a trained Professional Organizer, who has hours and hours of education classes and experience and knows the best way to set up a proper organizing system. No, it is not just about throwing your stuff away. Do you remember those 2000 questions I asked at our consultation and then during the work session? It was not all chit-chat. I was learning about you and how your family functions. This system is tailored to your unique lifestyle and reflects that.

     

    • There are labels now where there were none before. I am glad you listened to me and agreed to label things. Unless you live by yourself, labeling will ensure that other family members know where to look for things and where they should go back after they have been used. (honestly, even if you live by yourself the power of labels is just so special, I’d always tell you to anyway.)

     

    • The randomness is gone and instead, we have structure. You can’t put the pasta on the shelf that is now clearly for breakfast items. Most likely you won’t. Why should you? As humans, we are wired to want “easy”. And randomness is NOT easy. It actually is way more work for our brains to figure out where that last bag of dark brown sugar is (hoping that we still have any stuffed in a corner somewhere) than to look straight into the Baking section bin.

     

    • Organizing cuts down on your decision making. You don’t realize how tired you are, how many things are on your mind and to do lists. Setting up a new system in your pantry, kitchen or closet etc may feel different and foreign the first few days but it makes your life so much easier in the long run. You will not have to dedicate ANY thinking power to where shoes, papers or kids stuff should go. You just know. With that energy drain out of the equation, you can focus more on other areas of your life that need your energy and attention.

     

    • I honestly have yet to meet someone that says “ I regret getting organized”. Most of the amazing folks I have had the honor to work with have confirmed that their initial hesitation about maintaining it simply has not come true. No, a pantry will not self-maintain. You will still have to give it a touch up from time to time, readjust and reevaluate placement of foods etc. The family’s needs will change after all, and the system should be adjusted to reflect that. My promise to you is the same answer that I gave my client as she was pondering her family living with the new pantry:

    “It may not stay picture perfect, but it will NEVER go back to what it was”.

    Drop me a line in the comments and let me know what you think.

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  • Why “good enough” is the new perfect.

    Standing at the bedroom door, I was trying to wrap up our last organizing session. Looking back at the room I could not help but feel somewhat of a disappointment with myself. So much more could be done with that space. Sigh…

    Even a professional organizer struggles with the lesson that sometimes “good enough” is enough.

    This happened to be one of those days for me.

    So there I was, surveying the result of 5 hours of decluttering and organizing. My young client had a hard time parting with her things, her treasures. We had already discussed that during our consultation.

    I glanced at the new piles in the hallway. Trash, donate, belong elsewhere. We discarded very little, in fact much less than we needed to. Most times she could not come up with a reason for keeping anything and what she wanted to do with it. Another sigh…

    Did I do what I needed to do?

    Was there enough motivation? Did my preaching match her listening?

    They say our brains can process about 35-50 thoughts per minute.

    My perfectionist brain really felt like it was on fire with a barrage of questions and attempted answers.

    If there is one thing I will never do is push. As a lifelong empath, I always absorb other people’s emotions and I worry about upsetting or creating discomfort. I tell clients I like to “stretch” their comfort zone instead.

    All this tsunami of self-reflection was stopped in its tracks when a long “WOW” came behind my shoulders.

    My young client came in, and blurted out in typical millennial style :

    “OMG my room looks so much better!”.

    “Really?” – I asked. “You mean that?”

    I was blatantly seeking validation to quell my doubts. What I had wanted to see was Pinterest. What she was seeing was a new lease on using her bedroom.

    I wanted the amazing before and after. She was appreciating the newly found floor space and the layout. She thanked me numerous times and gushed over how big and pretty her room seemed.

    “Well, – I told myself. She might not know any better”.

    It wasn’t until later that night, as I was reviewing the before and after pictures of our session that it hit me. She was right.

    SHE KNEW BETTER

    My client had just given me a refresher course on the power of progress versus perfection.

    Good enough is the new perfect.

    The room was so much calmer than before. I had left her world a much better place. There really should be no room for disappointment. Side by side those before and after photos were not Pinterest worthy but it was real life for this young lady.


    When you find yourself  chasing perfection again here are 5 thoughts to help overcome it:


    “Meet yourself to where you are emotionally able to go”

    (not necessarily just where you are). Explore and stretch your comfort zone to new heights but never push beyond what you are able to enjoy.

     “Organization is in the eye of the beholder”

    There is no formula. You have nothing to prove to anyone. It only has to work for the person living in the space. Stop trying to match what you saw in that magazine or that beloved store display.

    “Victory begets victory”

    This never fails me. Once you get a taste of what you can do, you are much more motivated to keep going and pursue a better version of you or your house. Start small and savor your victory. Do not beat yourself up because you only were able to declutter two drawers in your kitchen versus the whole thing. Pat yourself in the back on this small victory and remember that good feeling for next time. You will score another victory that way.

    “Perfection is overrated”

    Chasing it is quite useless. It often stands in the way of you making a difference in your current situation. Good enough really is the new perfect. We must realize that unless we appreciate progress, we will likely NEVER get to perfect.

    “Before and afters really do help”

    I know you’re smiling. We are but flawed human beings, my friends. Even the organizers with their magical powers to transform spaces and lives. Inside all of us lives a little girl or boy who wants to yell “look ma, look what I did”. So go ahead and give yourself that satisfaction. No, do NOT call your ma each time you clean out under your sink. But it is ok to take those before and afters. Look at the difference and feel good about your achievement. It sure helps me every single time.

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