How this professional organizer helps others unpack the stress of their living spaces to enjoy a higher sense of wellbeing.
When you think about organizing your home or workspace, what immediately comes to mind? Do you envision before and after photos of a garage that’s gone from cram-packed to a neater, open space? Maybe you start thinking about the things you’d need like boxes, storage bins, shelves, or time? Or, perhaps it’s none of these because the task seems so intimidating that you’d rather avoid it altogether.
As a professional organizer, I know that restoring order to someone’s personal space is about so much more than making it neat, clean, and functional; it’s also about helping that person experience an emotional transformation, so they go from feeling stuck to being set free. Before I started my business, I knew that I wanted to do work that could have an impact in people’s lives. And I’ve finally found a place where my clients and I are flourishing alongside one another and enhancing our respective wellbeing.
Finding my place
When I was a kid, organizing wasn’t a thing. It wasn’t something anyone really did as a career or business. In fact, it wasn’t something I ever thought I’d be doing or enjoying today. After college, I spent some time in Europe working with a youth ministry. I liked the work I did. It was creative and meaningful. But, I knew I needed to come back to the States. After I returned home, I took a job that involved mostly sitting at a computer, required a commute and allowed me a half hour for lunch. I just didn’t thrive in that scenario. So, I started looking for work where I could have an impact. The one I knew I wanted, the job I was ultimately searching for, had to look different on the surface. As I reflected on my different positions, I discovered a common thread: I liked being a catalyst for positive change. I’m a real sucker for transformation. My happy place is behind the scenes cheering others on, helping them do something important in their lives.
A friend gave me the idea to start my professional organizing business. She was an interior designer who’d gone out on her own. The idea was exciting. And, while I never thought I could make a living helping people harmonize their spaces, I was going to step out and try. I trained with some pros, apprenticing under a few established organizers in Richmond. When my friend referred my first clients to me, my business was on, and it was sink or swim time. That was in 2007. Thankfully, I’d prepared for my transition to entrepreneurship. I bought a home. I had some savings to start and carry me for a while as I dared to fly on my own. I knew I needed this opportunity for the sake of my sanity and long-term personal fulfillment.
Finding my why
Fast forward to 2018. During the years I’ve been in business, I’ve met some wonderful people. I have many success stories to tell, and, above all, I have a deeper understanding of why my line of work is important to my clients and me.
First, we all want and deserve to live balanced lives. Busyness spreads us too thin. Most people are moving so fast and without margins that they’re feeling held back from the way they really want to live. I remember watching my mom struggle with the expectations society had of her. And I believe that the pressure on women has only gotten worse. We are expected to do so many tasks perfectly, to be fit, smart, beautiful, money earners, flawless mothers, and attentive to romantic relationships. It’s unrealistic and an impossible battle. Additionally, more “stuff” coming into our busy lives—clothes, toys, collectibles, tools, books, dishes, you name it—can crowd out our personal spaces so those areas stop functioning for us.
Having too much stuff and too little time to deal with it can weigh us down physically, emotionally, and spiritually. No one should feel that in order to “be better” they must get organized. I think it’s really healthy to admit we need help. Doing what I do, I feel privileged when people let me into their lives and we reach a goal together.
Finding more pluses in the process
As I mentioned, reorganizing a home or workspace does more than make a visual difference in a specific area; it can enhance our overall wellbeing. There is a lot of positive psychology that can come from reaching this type of goal. Among its many powerful benefits, organizing can help you:
- Gain control. Letting go of extra “stuff” and thinking about what to donate, throw out, or reuse gives you power to change your space and how it functions for you. Clearing out that guest room means your best friends can visit more often. Reorganizing your den means you have a quiet space to read again or gather with your family. It’s that empowered feeling that boosts your confidence and energizes you to accomplish other important things.
- Become more efficient. Do you know anyone who has hours to throw away? Me neither. So, what would you do with more time? Would you focus on a hobby? Go out on a date? Get more sleep? Hit the gym to work on that fitness goal you’ve had to put off? Having a streamlined office and/or home and staying on top of it facilitates that. When things are in their rightful place and easy to manage, you save time. No more digging through piles to find something or coming back to a task that you’ve started and stopped multiple times.
- Live freely. You know that feeling you get when you finally pull off a tight-fitting pair of shoes you’ve worn all day? Organizing can feel like that. I find it so fulfilling when I witness people getting unstuck, when they see what unfolds in their lives once they reach a goal and their stress goes down. When I meet them initially and hear them say, “I want to get organized so I can _____,” that blank is their why. It’s where they want to find breathing room. To feel free. I consider organizing to be part of personal wellness strategy. Among all its positives, a well-functioning home can increase family communication, provide a peaceful haven, make time to rest and play, and enhance your quality of life.
If you leave with one thing after reading my story, let it be this: It’s okay to have a mess around you and to ask for help cleaning it up. To live your best life, gather a tribe around you that can support you when there’s not enough time to deal with too much “stuff.” I’m honored when someone invites me to be part of their support system. My goal is to always show compassion during the organization process. It’s not easy for everyone to part with the things they’ve acquired over time. When I can see someone’s stress go down, when they feel relieved after a special transformation, it’s gratifying to know that I even had a tiny part in guiding them through the sticky, uncomfortable part.
My #1 get-organized tip: Start small.
If it’s one drawer, start with that.
- Empty it and clean it
- Sort items into categories
- Decide which items belong in that space
- Put things back in a thoughtful way, adding containers and labels, if needed
- Throw out or donate items that are no longer useful or special
- Ride the energy boost from completing something into the next task!
As a professional organizer, I can:
- Analyze the space you want to transform
- Learn what’s not working
- Understand how you want to use the space
- Keep projects on task
- Help you avoid frustration and buying the wrong products
I work alongside people who feel stuck or overwhelmed by how their home or office looks and functions. Together, we clarify the goals for a space and create clear, maintainable systems that restore peace and balance in their lives.