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Business Workshop Topics Just For Professional Organizers

I don’t know a single consultant or freelancer (in any field) who hasn’t come across a completely out-of-control client in their daily dealings — one who needed a good dose of simplification before any other progress could be made. Whether your goal is to become a full-fledged PO (or to simply guide folks past those rough patches that stand in the way of your other work) — these of “get-better-at-helping-the-overloaded-and-overwhelmed-tame-their-chaos” workshops will strengthen your disorder-destroying arsenal. They’re based on my books, “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career” and “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized“– however, the content is appropriate for all industries involving clearing clutter, managing paper/time, initiating change, or removing goal-setting obstacles. I’ve helped coaches, accountants, virtual assistants, interior designers, corporate trainers, and project managers with their client relationships — so if you’re ready to add an organizing component to your business, this series is for you!

Each can be scheduled for any size professional group as a live private teleseminar/webinar or an in-person event — I’m prepared to give you anywhere from 90 minutes of my life to several days in a row, whatever it takes to make sure you understand the concepts you need to succeed. I’m also happy to shorten, lengthen, cut-and-paste, moosh together multiple topics, or otherwise customize the content to suit your attendees’ schedule, interests, and budget. And if you’re just one lone entrepreneur flying solo in the world, you can certainly purchase a pre-recorded download of the program. (Just as soon as I get a chance to tape it fer ya!)

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1Are You Cut Out For The Job?
Deciding If A Career As An Organizer Is For You


  • why do you want to be an organizer?
  • what kind of organizer will you be?
  • what a professional organizer looks like
  • what skills do you need to become an organizer?
  • characteristics of a successful organizer
  • capitalizing on your talents and strengths

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6A Niche By Any Other Name:
To Specialize Or Not To Specialize As A Professional Organizer


  • the pros and cons of “niche-ing” your services
  • choosing the right specialty for your business
  • space/paper/time management options
  • office organizing
  • working with different age groups
  • lifestyle organizing

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1What Causes Disorganization?
Addressing Chaotic Factors Affecting Your Organizing Clients


  • faulty organizing skills, lifestyle issues, and environmental factors
  • inability to draw healthy boundaries and lack of direction
  • counterproductive beliefs and attitudes
  • communication problems
  • physical limitations, major life crises, and mental health/neurological issues

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6They Come In All Shapes And Sizes:
Understanding The Different Types Of Organizing Clients You’ll Encounter


  • your basic “pack rat,” “super sentimentalist,” and “enough is never enough”
  • “professionally a success, personally a mess” (or vice-versa)
  • “head in the sand,” “path of least resistance,” and “just don’t care”
  • “life transitioner,” “suffering from super(wo)man syndrome,” or “slave to society”
  • “look beneath the surface” vs. “out of sight, out of mind”

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1Where Do You Start?
Client Intake And Qualification Are Key


  • structuring that first conversation
  • potential intake questions
  • qualifying clients
  • assessing motivation, willingness, and ability to pay
  • deflecting the dreaded question

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6Consultation Basics:
Making The Most Of Your First Client Meeting


  • why you should offer a free consult
  • understanding why they contacted you in the first place
  • building rapport
  • the anatomy of a consultation
  • don’t spill your candy in the lobby

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1Finding Out Where It Hurts:
The Anatomy Of An Organizing Assessment


  • helping clients see the pain behind their disorganization
  • the reasoning behind your assessment
  • recording your findings quickly, easily, thoroughly
  • walking through a sample assessment
  • offering paid assessments for DIY-ers

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6Now, Later, Or Never:
Evaluating Potential Client Readiness


  • precontemplators (not ready)
  • contemplators (getting ready)
  • preparers (ready)
  • executors (actively engaged)
  • dealing with backsliding

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1Closing The Sale:
Turning A Consultation Into A Paying Client


  • understanding what “selling” yourself really means
  • helping clients to see the value in your services
  • overcoming objections with ease
  • problem-solving during the closing process
  • using an upright negotiated close

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6Getting From Point “A” To Point “B:”
Creating A Plan Of Attack For Your Organizing Session


  • prioritizing your client’s concerns
  • breaking it down into steps
  • tackling both behavioral issues and physical systems
  • setting goals, milestones, and a timeline
  • the test of a good action plan

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1Understanding Your Purpose:
Defining Your Role As An Organizer


  • expert consultant, researcher, and problem-solver
  • tireless cheerleaders, facilitator, and muse
  • amateur counselor and educator extraordinaire
  • combination devil’s advocate, envelope-pusher, and tightrope-walker
  • back-breaking manual laborer, chief, cook, and bottle-washer

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6Client Communication 101:
The Key To A Successful Organizing Relationship


  • you, me, or we?
  • developing your active listening skills
  • really connecting with your clients
  • when silence is golden
  • conversational pitfalls and how to avoid them

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1Asking The Right Kinds Of Questions:
The Power Of Positive Probing During An Organizing Session


  • what kind of answers are you looking for?
  • “what-do-you-want” and “paint-me-a-picture” queries
  • “let’s-go-deeper” and “get-specific” queries
  • “confirming-agreement” and “taking-action” queries
  • “staying-focused,” “solving-a-problem,” and “reality-check” queries

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6Hearing More Than They Are Saying:
Being Able To Read Non-Verbal Cues During Client Interactions


  • non-verbal is half the conversation
  • eye contact and facial expression
  • gesticulation and physical touch
  • personal space issues, body posture, positioning, and movement
  • vocalization cues and chronemics

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1Breaking Down The Brain:
The Mental Side Of Professional Organizing


  • brain-based disorganization
  • right-brained, left-brained, or whole-brained?
  • the analysis-dominant dream client
  • organizing the intuition-dominant
  • different quadrants or flawed science?

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6How Your Clients Process New Information:
Understanding The Truth Behind Different Learning Styles


  • understanding the myth and the reality
  • visual, kinesthetic, auditory and other sensory modalities
  • mind styles model
  • Dunn and Dunn, Kolb, and other learning styles profiles
  • which is the right approach? none or all of them?

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1Labels, Stereotypes, And Thought Processes:
The Realities And Fallacies Behind Organizing And Personality Type


  • typing, or stereotyping?
  • Myers-Briggs type indicator – the holy grail of testing
  • striving styles model
  • Keirsey temperament sorter model
  • disc assessment model

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6Too Overwhelmed To Choose:
Decision-Making Challenges And Disorder


  • paralyzed perfectionists, too many choices, and fearful futurists
  • informationally ignorant and second-guessers
  • focus-phobics, quick-sanders, and deers in the headlights
  • consensus-seekers and deferential to a fault
  • holder-handlers and sentimental storytellers

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1All Sorts Of Monsters Under The Bed:
What Are Your Clients Afraid Of?


  • fear of the unknown vs. fear of consequences
  • fear of failure or judgment vs. fear of success
  • fear of structure vs. fear of limitations
  • fear of angering or inconveniencing others vs. fear of finishing
  • facing fear head-on

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6A + B = ?
Critical Thinking And The Organizing Process


  • basic critical thinking skills
  • characteristics of objective analysis
  • how core beliefs affect logic
  • evaluation and re-evaluation
  • the empirical organizing process

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1Time For A Reality Check:
Countering Your Client’s Flawed Logic


  • selective perception bias, confirmation bias, and representation bias
  • loss aversion, reactance, and sunk cost fallacy
  • anecdotal evidence, mind-reading, counterfactuals, and hypotheticals
  • probability blindness, outcome bias, and omission bias
  • splitting, false pattern recognition, catastrophizing, and negative self talk

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6Building Your Foundation:
Basic Across-The-Board Organizing Principles


  • understanding pareto, peter, and parkinson
  • a place for everything — organizing like with like by activity or purpose
  • your process — simplicity, planning, the right toolkit, and completion
  • keeping clutter at bay — one in/one out, and use it or lose it
  • practice makes perfect (a.k.a. “maintenance is key”)

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1Where Do We Go From Here?
Structuring Your Organizing Sessions


  • the initial appointment and assessment review
  • breaking a project into “bite-sized” chunks
  • understanding your client’s capabilities and finding the best course of action
  • getting your hands dirty
  • it’s all about timing

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6Getting Dirty, Transferring Skills:
The Hands-On Side Of Appointments


  • involving the client in the process
  • maintaining focus and momentum while moving at your client’s speed
  • hard skills vs. soft skills (a.k.a. “are you a people person?”)
  • making time fly while staying on schedule
  • course corrections and what to do when your client is nearing overload

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1Loose Ends, Satisfaction, And Future Plans:
Proactively Wrapping Up Each Appointment


  • estimating how much you can accomplish in the available time
  • one eye on the clock while focusing on progress
  • leaving time for tidying
  • set the stage for your next visit
  • how do you know when you’re “finished?”

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6Organizing After Hours:
Assigning Homework That Actually Gets Done


  • why homework fails (and what to do about it)
  • action-oriented tasks
  • evaluation of self
  • reading assignments
  • taking a field trip

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1You Say Tomato, I Say Tomahto:
Understanding (And Maximizing) Different Client Work Styles


  • “the dream client” vs. “just following orders” or even “in absentia”
  • dealing with “negative nancy” (or nelly or ned), “chatty cathy” or “loquacious larry”
  • “the clean-sweeper”
  • “forgetful to a fault,” “later gator,” and “distract-a-rama”
  • “an excuse for everything,” “painfully indecisive,” or “easily flustered”

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6We’re In This Together:
Creating An Equal Partnership With Your Client


  • level of involvement — organizing “for” or “with” the client
  • your client’s responsibilities vs. yours
  • who’s in charge around here, anyway? — allowing your client to own the process
  • lack of judgment, respect, power differentials, and dynamics
  • drawing professional boundaries

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1Patience And Persistence:
The Challenge Of Working With Challenging Clients


  • who are you working for?
  • dispelling a few myths
  • a word of warning about labels
  • normalizing and neutralizing
  • getting frustrated with difficult clients

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6A Different Way Of Functioning:
Developing Organizational Strategies For Learning Disabilities


  • auditory processing, reading, and writing problems
  • issues with visual discrimination, spatial relations, and directionality
  • time-perception, focus, and memory challenges
  • mathematical confusions
  • asking for accommodation

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1Out-Of-Focus:
Assisting ADDers With Organizational Issues


  • what adders look and act like
  • what add is and what it isn’t
  • diagnosing (and overdiagnosing) an attention deficit
  • a childhood epidemic and the medication risks
  • organizing and life management strategies

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6The Pain Of Letting Go:
Helping Hoarders Cope With Clutter


  • why hoarders hoard
  • hoarding and obsessive compulsive disorder
  • motivational interviewing, assessment, and cognitive behavioral change techniques
  • issues with biological, animal, and waste hoarding
  • creating a hoarding task force

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1The Mess That Won’t Go Away:
Can You Cure The Chronically Disorganized?


  • challenges with time perception
  • the power of body doubling
  • avoiding tactile sympathy
  • game-playing as an organizing technique
  • the personalization of “stuff”

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6Literally Knocked Off Track:
Tackling Disorder Caused By Traumatic Brain Injury


  • literally knocked off track
  • adjusting expectations and assessing capabilities
  • common characteristics of brain injury survivors
  • the logistics of working with TBI clients
  • practical brain injury workarounds

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1Handi-Capable Organizing:
Adapting For The Differently-Abled


  • mental health concerns
  • hearing impairment
  • visual impairment
  • physical limitations
  • cognitive decline

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6I’m So Sorry For Your Loss:
Working With Grieving Clients


  • understanding the grieving process
  • emotions and “stuff”
  • different services at different stages
  • organizing as reminiscence
  • creating a safe space in which to say goodbye

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1Are You Kidding Me?
Planning Ahead For Problem Situations


  • “heel-digger,” “trash picker,” and “my way or the highway”
  • “best buddies” vs. “disagreeing spouses”
  • dealing with a “trash-picker” or “flip-flopper”
  • “Shopaholic Sally” (or Steve) and “TMI Tess” (or Terrence) meets “personal problem paralysis”
  • “more than I can handle” and “in over your head” clients

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6Don’t Become A Statistic:
Staying Safe While On Appointments


  • understanding the predator mentality
  • preventative measures
  • using common sense on appointments
  • if something does happen
  • physical self-defense?

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back:
Relapse And Maintenance


  • no blame, no judgment
  • sometimes life just gets in the way
  • identifying and avoiding triggers
  • picking up where you left off
  • clients who can’t stay organized on their own

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6Failure To Launch:
When You Don’t Seem To Be Making Progress

  • “backsliders”
  • “the dog ate my homework” and “life keeps getting in the way”
  • “failed do-it-yourselfers” and “something’s not clicking”
  • “more than I can handle” and “in over your head” clients
  • meeting (or not meeting) your client’s expectations

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 1Help! Get Me Out Of Here!
When You Just Can’t Work With A Client Anymore


  • how can you tell when a client is beyond your help?
  • defining your deal-breakers
  • drawing healthy boundaries with clients
  • transference, attachment, and abandonment issues
  • ending a relationship without burning bridges

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 6Putting The “Pro” In “Professional Organizer:”
Turning A Casual Hobby Into A Legitimate Career


  • holding yourself to a higher standard
  • getting the most out of continuing education
  • certification and beyond — creative ways to build professional credibility
  • best practices and modern-day business ethics
  • backing your expertise with credible research

PS: Wanna instantly rack up some serious virtual cred? I've made it easy for you to share this content with your social networking friends, e-mail it to your peeps, or republish it in your own blog (thereby showing off how smart you are) with these links.

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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

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