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A Slightly Different Approach

You’re probably saying, “Hmmm…getting organized sounds good! But how does it work? What the heck will you do to help me that I couldn’t do myself?” Good question! I started out my career in Social Work, and my focus has always been on problem-solving — you tell me how your life isn’t working the way that you want it to, and I will help you find a solution to fix it. And my work with organizing clients is pretty much the same kind of set-up, just a different level of suckage. But my background causes me to approach the creation of order in a different way than many of my colleagues. So let me share a little information my organizing philosophy — and explain the organizing process that I’ve been using with my clients since 1998.

Even Better Than ‘Clean Sweep’

Some P.O’s will offer to come in and organize “for” you — you don’t even have to lift a finger, they will do all the work. If you have an unlimited budget and don’t mind a lifelong commitment to that organizer in order to control the chaos, then go for it. I, however, think that this approach is a mistake. I believe in working “with” the client — you need to be involved in the process so you can learn the skills that will allow you to live clutter-free for years to come. My goal is for you to stay organized on your own, long after I’m gone — and isn’t that what it should really be all about? Empowerment is the cornerstone of my philosophy (it’s the Social Worker in me!)

When people find out what I do for a living, they often ask, “So it’s like ‘Clean Sweep’ like on TV, right?” Wrong! Remember that those shows are just that — for show. They want a dramatic result in an hour, so they cart everything out of the room, set up some cool storage paraphernalia, and show you a pretty result. But they don’t discuss the decision-making, follow-up, and maintenance processes that are required for long-term success. Organizing is only partly about shelves and containers — it is mostly about learning how to let go of clutter, changing the behaviors that cause chaos, and developing more constructive habits that will keep you organized after you turn off the TV.

Lugging all of your junk out to the curb and slapping on a fresh coat of paint might feel better for a few days, but it won’t do much to improve your quality of life in the long run.  And simply removing the stacks and piles isn’t going to solve your disorganization anymore than liposuction will keep you thin. If you don’t change the behavior that caused the problem in the first place, the weight (and the clutter) will just come right back again. I find it interesting that these makeover programs never show you what the place looks like 6 months after the initial blitz — I don’t care how amazing the transformation, that “quick fix” will come undone just as quickly if you revert back to your old routines! Instead of looking for a miracle cure, you would do better to think of working with a Professional Organizer like hiring a personal trainer at the gym. That trainer can help you achieve amazing results, but you can’t expect to have a new body overnight. It takes time to burn away the flab and build up muscle — then you have to stick with it every day to maintain your results. It’s the same with getting your life in order. It took years to create the clutter, it’s going to take time to tame the chaos. But as your “trainer,” I’m there to keep you on track and help you make faster progress than you would on your own.

 

Cure The Illness, Not Just The Symptoms

Please don’t let this little diatribe discourage you — I promise that the clutter will go away, it’s just not going to magically disappear overnight. As your Professional Organizer, my job is not only to re-arrange your environment, but also to discover the reasons behind your disorganization — why you accumulate things you don’t need, why you have a hard time saying “no” when you’re too busy, why you avoid dealing with that week-old stack of papers on your desk. You see, the piles aren’t the problem. The overflowing in-box isn’t the problem. And the constant tardiness is not the problem. These are all just symptoms of the problem. Something else is making your road through life bumpy, and I’m there to help fill those potholes — using tools like filing systems and closet organizers and your “to-do” list as hotpatch (how’s that for a metaphor!) Together, we can create a lasting change in your environment that will encourage a permanent shift in your organizational habits.  But we need a few things to happen:

  • First, you must understand the “why” of organizing — I will evaluate your situation, listen to your concerns, watch you function in your daily life, and help to pinpoint exactly what is causing your frustrations. Then we will decide on the appropriate steps for tackling those problem areas.
  • Second, you must learn the “how” of getting organized — I will teach you  a variety of easy-to-understand organizing techniques that you can implement yourself. Do you hear that “yourself” part? You won’t need to keep hiring an organizer to come back again and again — you will be able to keep it under control on your own.
  • Third, you will need to acquire (and learn to use) the appropriate organizing supplies — I will show you exactly which containers, shelving, racks, calendars, folders, desk accessories, drawer dividers, etc. will work for your situation (and tell you where you can buy them.) And whenever possible, we will find a way to use things that you already own, to save money.
  • Fourth, you will need to implement systems that will help you maintain the changes you’ve made — I will teach you proven methods for handling paper, managing your workload, scheduling activities, tackling projects, and staying on top of all your stuff, so that the clutter and overload and disorganization never come back again. Most importantly, I will help you simplify your daily routines so the “have-tos” take less time and energy (leaving room for the “want-tos” you never seem to fit in.)

My clients joke that a lot of what I do is ask annoying questions — “When are you going to use that again?” or “What purpose does it serve in your life?” or “What’s the worst thing that would happen if you got rid of it?” But there’s a method to my madness. I’m helping you to become aware of the traps you’ve fallen into over the years — the excuses you have for hanging on to things and paper and activities that do nothing to enhance your life (and may actually be detracting from it!) I’m forcing you to move beyond the clutter of indecision and make a conscious choice about what to keep and what to toss. I will never tell you to get rid of something you cherish, but I will ask you to articulate why something you haven’t used in 20 years has value to you. Most importantly, I’m giving you permission to let go of any area of your life that isn’t working. Here’s a quote from one of my favorite organizing clients regarding our time together:

“You have helped me through one of the most difficult times of my life. Talking with you gave me something to look forward to doing. Your assignments added some order to the chaos that I was experiencing, giving me something to work for and towards. As you have said, getting started is the hardest part, and now that I’ve done that, I know I’ll be able to continue making progress. Thank you for ALL of your help and encouragement! I thoroughly enjoyed our visits and found them more helpful than you can imagine or that I can put into words!”

Pretty powerful, huh? Are you ready to begin? Then just fill out my contact form letting me know what kinds of services you are interested in and where you are located. We can have an initial phone conversation, take a look at our calendars, and schedule a time to start. I look forward to helping you begin your journey toward an orderly and simplified life!

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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One Response

  1. Tina Holden says:

    Organizing my files

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