How I Became An Organizer

I have been asked by many followers on social media how did you become a professional organizer and can you give me tips to get started. It took me a while to go back through the years and remember the beginning of my career but here we go!

I actually started organizing without realizing it was a business because 12 years ago it was a career not many people knew about. I went to a friends house while our kids were at school and we were sitting in her kitchen and the countertops were covered with paperwork and other miscellaneous items. I asked her if she wanted help clearing the countertops and she looked at me like I was crazy or the best friend she ever had I couldn’t tell.

She said are you sure you want to do that and I think I said yes so fast that it made her laugh. In my mind, I was envisioning how that space could be used and what a difference it would make preparing meals for her family and how calming it would be to walk into a space free of clutter. We started by getting rid of items that were trash, sorted items to be filed and I could see the more we tackled the better she felt. By the time we reached the end of the counter, I lifted a stack of papers and saw a bar sink. I said I didn’t know you had a sink there and she replied yes and now I will be able to use it!

We were done by the time the kids finished school and as we were walking out the door to get the kids she said thank you and I remember the next words out of her mouth like it was yesterday you should do this as a job. I replied they have jobs doing this? She said I don’t know but you should look into it your good at it. You have to remember this was 12 years ago and we had computers but not like they do now and there was no social media so I began to research the prospects on my own.

These are the steps I took to get where I am today. It may not work for everyone but this is what worked for me.

1.  Help friends and family get organized so you can make sure it is a fit for you before you invest time and money. In my opinion, you either have a passion for organizing or you don’t there is generally not a middle road. As an experienced organizer, I can say it is the most rewarding job but it also is a lot of hard work. Many think it is glamorous but it can be a very emotional experience for clients. As an organizer, you wear many different hats. You not only help purge clutter but you are a therapist, a motivator and a confidant.

2.  If you realize its something you want to do the next step is to join NAPO.  The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals will give you information and tools to get started in the business. You can take classes, join groups and learn the trade from other experienced organizers.

3.  Choose a name for your company and have a business plan. If you want people to see you as a legitimate business you have to make yourself legitimate. That includes insurance, banking, a website and physical help for larger jobs. Although I did not have social media back then it is something that is important in today’s world and needs to be a part of your business.

4.  Be patient. It takes time to become successful at any job and being an organizer is no different. When you have a job that takes you into peoples homes you have to build your reputation. Word of mouth has been everything in my business.

5.  My last bit of advice is to be yourself! I know in the social media world it’s easy to see what others are doing. Don’t focus on them and feel like you are not measuring up be yourself and do what you are best at.

Did I cover it all? I hope so but if not feel free to comment and l will be happy to answer any questions. Like any other job do what you love and love what you do!

Image | Julie Ryan Photography

The Ultimate Checklist to Stay Organized

Now that January is over the real challenge is how to stay organized throughout the year. Old habits can resurface quickly so it’s important to look at some of the clutter triggers and how to avoid them. These are some tips to prevent becoming overwhelmed and living a simple, clutter-free life.

If you don’t need it, use it, love it or have a place to store it, let it go  If you start to understand this concept it will prevent unwanted clutter in your home. It’s basically retraining your thoughts when it comes to the stuff you own.

Keep a calendar  So many people have returned to paper just for the ease of it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a digital calendar or paper just make sure it works for you.

Inbox for mail and papers  Do you have papers that need to be signed for school? Bills that have to be paid? Setting up a system for incoming mail and important papers will keep you organized throughout the year.

Keep counters clean  Keeping your countertops free of clutter is a major step to an organized life. Once the piles start forming it can become overwhelming so make a commitment to clutter-free counters.

Keep up with the laundry  Speaking of overwhelming laundry is another area in the home that can quickly become a problem. Make laundry less of a chore by having an organized laundry area and staying on top of the laundry.

Consider the garage part of your home  When you sell your home do you include the garage in the sale? Absolutely! Garages should not become storage units but rather an extension of the home. Purge regularly so you can store items that belong in a garage and have a place to actually park your car.

Paperless receipts  Choosing to have your receipt emailed while shopping will save you from the bottomless pit of receipts that tend to get out of control especially as the year progresses. Set up files on your computer and you will not only be eliminating paper clutter but you will save time when looking for a receipt.

Shred old papers  Owning a shredder is one of the best ways to stay on top of paper clutter. Shred unwanted mail and outdated paperwork on a regular basis.

Desktop File  Keep a desktop file system for important papers you need on a daily basis. It will not only keep you organized but save you time.

Change Your Hangers  If you want to keep the neat an organized closet you achieved in January stay on top of the mismatched hangers from entering your closet. By the way, it’s not too late to make this simple change it is inexpensive and will give you immediate results.

Stay away from Big Box stores  Unless you have a large family big box stores can become a problem for many people who don’t have the place to store what they buy in bulk. Buy what you need and have the room for and you will be surprised how little effort it takes to stay organized.

Label your containers  Containers are a great way to sort and organize items but if they are not labeled people forget what is in them and buy more of what they already own. Purge, sort, contain and label a simple system to stay organized.

Purge kitchen gadgets  Throughout the year take inventory of the small appliances and gadgets you don’t use and free up space in the kitchen for what you love.

Have a place for everything  If there is a place for everything you own it solves the problem of overstuffed drawers, cabinets, and closets. It will also motivate you and your family to keep it that way throughout the year.

If you take it out put it back  The easiest way to stop clutter from forming is to get in the habit of putting back an item after you use it. A small step but makes a big difference in staying organized.

Schedule a regular donation pickup  One way to prevent clutter from forming is scheduling a donation pickup at least once a month. Keep an ongoing bag for items you no longer need or want and when its full consign or donate.

Involve your children  If you want to keep your home organized involve your children in the process. Give incentives to pick up toys and make the storage containers easy for smaller hands.

Do not buy something just because it’s on sale  When I ask clients how they accumulated multiples of items the answer is often because it was on sale. Even if something is on sale if you don’t need it or have room to store it, don’t buy it!

Purge often  I know I already mentioned this but it’s worth repeating. The more you purge on a regular basis the less chance there is for clutter to form.

If you need help getting or staying organized hire a professional  If you feel yourself starting to become overwhelmed reach out to a professional organizer who can help you get back on track. Many clients need a bit of a refresh throughout the year to keep their home running smoothly.

Julie Ryan Photography

Are You Ready To Simplify in 2019?

My blog for the new year is less about resolutions and more about making simple changes. In 2019 I would like to see a commitment to simplifying all aspects of your home and life. As an organizer I see how simplifying brings a sense of calm and contentment to a hectic and stressful life. Simplifying is not just in the home it reaches many other parts of your life. How can you simplify in 2019?

These are a few of my tips to help motivate and inspire you to attain a simple uncluttered life.

SIMPLIFY YOUR HEALTH  

Your health is absolutely the first place to begin because if you don’t have your health nothing else matters. After my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 I realized how time stops the minute you hear that diagnosis. You feel paralyzed and nothing else matters. It sometimes takes something major to make you realize how lucky you are to be healthy.

Do you put yourself last after everyone else in your life? When is the last time you had a yearly physical? Mammogram? So many illnesses and diseases if caught early are curable. Make a list of appointments that need to be made and schedule them. Don’t put off something that could save your life.

Mental health is also a big part of self care. Everybody needs someone they can talk to especially with everything going on in our world. Who feels absolutely safe for themselves and their loved ones when they leave their home these days? That alone causes anxiety, stress and depression. Make your health a priority in 2019!

SIMPLIFY YOUR RELATIONSHIPS  

Quality over quantity is how you simplify relationships. Do you feel like you are always the one who plans everything? Are you the friend everyone can turn to but when it’s your turn there is only a couple people around? Value those relationships and let the unfulfilling, negative people in your life go. Turn off your phone and computer devices when you are with someone. Everybody’s time is valuable and by having an uninterrupted conversation it will make the person you are with feel special and valued and really isn’t that what we all want.

SIMPLIFY YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE  

Whether it’s pilates, yoga, cross fit or walking any exercise is great for your mind and body. I recently got into podcasts and I could have walked to China listening to a few of my latest favorites. If you keep it simple and enjoyable next year it will already be part of your normal routine.

SIMPLIFY YOUR HOME  

As an organizer you knew this topic was coming. I cannot stress enough the importance of simplifying your home. If you feel the project is too overwhelming hire a professional but get it done. Start small with one area at a time. Once you see how much easier it is to find items and see what you own it will motivate you to tackle another area. I have been told repeatedly by clients it is life changing! Some of my clients like me to do an annual refresh to keep them organized throughout the year. Its like having a tune up for your home just as you would for your car to make sure things are running smoothly.

SIMPLIFY YOUR WARDROBE  

I can’t tell you how many times people have tried to talk me into florals or stripes when I’m trying on clothes. I always say the same thing I just don’t feel comfortable in patterns. Simplify your style by buying the basics and adding a bit of trendy with belts, scarves, jewelry or shoes. Keep only what you love and makes you feel good when you wear it!

SIMPLIFY YOUR WORK LIFE

The best way to simplify your work environment is to clear the clutter. Sounds simple but is difficult for many. A desk should be used for things you are presently working on and a computer. Everything else should be in a desk top collator or file for easy access. Another tip is to learn how to delegate instead of trying to do everything yourself. Whether work or home you can’t do it all and as women we sometimes think we can or should be able to do it all. The reality is no one can do everything and do it right. Give some responsibility to others and reap the benefits in the new year.

SIMPLIFY YOUR SKINCARE  

I feel like I’m a bit of an expert on this subject because I have tried every skincare routine out there with the hopes of amazing results and I always go back to a simple basic routine. Using more products doesn’t make your skin necessarily better and it can be irritating. Keep it simple and your skin will thank you!

SIMPLIFY YOUR MAKEUP

The easiest way to simplify your makeup is to find a basic routine that works for you. Foundation, mascara, concealer, blush, eye liner, eye shadow palette and lipstick are all you really need especially as you age. Simplifying your makeup makes getting ready in the morning less stressful and easier to keep everything neat, organized and accessible. Another important tip especially with foundation ask for samples. It will alleviate unnecessary clutter and the guilt you feel when you spend money on something and don’t like it.

SIMPLIFY YOUR CALENDAR

If you want to simplify your life one of the first places to look is your calendar. It is a difficult task for many because most people are over committed. If you’re a parent now is the time to see how you can simplify your childs activities into your schedule because ultimately it becomes a part of your life. Another important tip learn to say NO. It takes practice but it will not only simplify your life but it will allow you to make time for yourself.

SIMPLIFY YOUR GOALS  

Many people are hard on themselves when they make resolutions for the new year and they don’t achieve them. Whether it’s losing weight, receiving a promotion or getting organized setting realistic goals may work better to achieve success in the new year.

January is get organized month so stay tuned for more tips to simplify your home and your life.

Julie Ryan Photography

Disco ball owned and loved by Christine. Everyone has something they can’t get rid of including the organizer.