Category Archives: professional organizer

Collaborate for Success

Dana Arkinzadeh and Katherine Korlacki - 1

This week we are celebrating our 200th blog post!! Let’s take a step back and tell you the story of our blog. It’s a story of risk taking, growth, and collaboration.

Back in November of 2012, both of us felt some pressure that we “had” to have a blog to be “legitimate businesses” and jump in the pool of social media marketing. At that point Dana had been in business 10 years and Katherine for 16 so we both felt established and reluctant to take on a new form of promotion. We decided to tackle the project together – to co-write a blog that we would publish jointly and could each re-purpose for our own use.

Here are 10 lessons we’ve learned through 200 posts:

  1. Don’t go it alone – tough jobs are way easier, and often actually fun, if done with a friend
  2. Have courage to move forward even if you don’t know what you’re doing – things have a way of sorting themselves out and you learn along the way
  3. Commit regular time in your calendar – make it realistic if you want to get something done
  4. Don’t give up – your partner may have energy when you’re flagging
  5. Honor your limits – over the last 6 years we adjusted our start time, adjusted the frequency of posts, and gave us ourselves permission to repost old blogs when feeling uninspired
  6. Go for good enough, instead of perfect – don’t let perfectionism be a roadblock; done is better than perfect
  7. Keep things simple
  8. You don’t have to have all the answers – bring in outside experts to help with topics or technical issues
  9. Make your own rules for success – don’t let others’ expectations drive your goals or standards
  10. Celebrate your accomplishments – it’s often only the negatives we focus on, celebrating helps you remember and savor the positives

Does the blog get us new business? Hard to tell. But we get consistent feedback from current clients that they like hearing from us and get value from the topics. Taking the time to think through topics keeps us curious and open to ideas and creates content that we can use in presentations, newsletters, and other places. One of the biggest benefits to us is a regularly scheduled time to stay connected, support each other through business challenges, and celebrate business and life successes.

How could you collaborate to achieve some of your goals? Have you had a great collaboration experience related to organizing? Share your story with us!

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Filed under Bay Area Services, Decluttering, organizing, Perspective, professional organizer, Strategies, Time Management, Work

Hiring An Organizer – Finding The Right Fit

Finding the right fit can take a little time, plan for that

You’ve finally decided to get some help tackling that closet or dealing with paper overwhelm.  How do you go about finding a Professional Organizer who will meet your needs?

Having been a part of an association of Professional Organizers for many years, both locally and nationally, we have met a lot of organizers.  We are struck by the wide range of differences between Organizers. There are varying levels of competencies, there is a tremendous amount of leeway in organizing styles and there are many different approaches to the work. Most important to realize is there really is no “right” way to be an Organizer; the perfect fit for a client comes from a mix of personality, skill sets, and process competency.

What Do You Need & Want?

The easy part is figuring out where in the home or office you need help. Closet design? Kitchen reorganization? Paperwork? Kid’s stuff? The harder part may be knowing who you’ll work best with. Organizing is such personal, sometimes intimate, work that it’s a good idea to spend some time thinking about what personality types and approaches may work best for you.

Would you like working with someone who:

  • Lets you take the lead or is more directive?
  • Is high energy or more mellow?
  • Has a deeper psychological perspective vs. a “let’s just do it” perspective?
  • Can work virtually as well as hands-on?
  • Does all the work themselves or has a team of organizers?

An organizer for your closet project may not be the right match for your home office project. An organizer with a background in corporate admin would come at a problem differently than someone who comes from an interior design or counseling background. And then there are differences in rates, policies, and availability to consider. Getting clear on your desires and needs will help to hone in on the right questions to find a good fit for your projects.

Experience Matters, and…

There certainly is value in working with an Organizer with many years of experience, but someone who is newer to the field may have a rich work history which lends itself to organizing. Most people come to this career after having had a significant work or life experience where they used or developed their organizing skills.  Just because someone is new doesn’t mean they won’t be capable of handling a project; ask about their work or personal background to determine their approach and skills if you can’t ask for client references.

As our industry has developed, more formal trainings and certifications have evolved.  Some Organizers have chosen to go through a professional certification process which requires they pass a test and have met a minimum number of organizing hours (1500 hours within past 3 years). To maintain their certification, they must complete continuing education. These organizers will have a CPO® designation after their name.

How Do I Find An Organizer?

As with most services, word of mouth is the best way to get a great referral in your area – post something on Facebook or NextDoor to ask your friends and neighbors if anyone has a recommendation. Or look for reviews of organizers on Yelp or NextDoor. The National Association of Productivity and Organizing professionals (NAPO) has a searchable database to find member organizers near your zip code: NAPO.net (national search) or NAPO-SFBA (SF Bay Area). NAPO also has a handy hiring guide on their website.

You’ll know you have a successful match when your Organizer’s style and experience blends well with your needs … and you work though projects efficiently and effectively. Remember, there’s no one “right” way to organize!

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Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, home organizing, professional organizer, Strategies

5 Organizing Lessons from Happy Brain Science

There’s been a lot of research done on the science behind happiness. According to Ayla Lewis of http://www.HappyBrainScience.com, as it turns out, our brains are not as hard wired as we may think. We tend to think of our personalities as being fairly “set” however science has proven we can take specific actions to change how we think and feel.

So how does this relate to organizing?

If you’ve locked yourself into a mindset that you can’t be organized, that you’re a “messy person,” or that you’re just not good at it – that doesn’t have to be your story!  We tend to cast ourselves into a role that is static but brain science shows change is possible.

Here’s 5 ways you can proactively change your approach to getting organized:

Don’t Go It Alone

Research shows that you can make more progress if you involve positive people in your life. This could be a professional organizer or just a supportive friend.

Take Charge of Your Attitude

Perspective has tremendous power.  It is as important as the actions you take. A shift in perspective will empower you to get and stay organized.

Focus on the Positive

Searching out and focusing on the positive in a situation primes our brains to look for more positives.  Let’s say you just pulled a pair of worn out shoes from your closet to throw away or donate.  That’s a positive step toward decluttering!  Yay! Celebrate that and see that as a step in the right direction.

Take a Power Pose

As Amy Cuddy, Harvard researcher has suggested, standing with your hands on your hips like Wonder Woman for two minutes can change your psychology.  Putting on a smiley face helps…even if you don’t mean it. Research shows that the physical act of turning the corners of your mouth up actually makes you feel happier.

Honor the Progress You Make

Work toward making progress on any given goal as opposed to measuring success by the endpoint. Happiness research has shown that this provides more satisfaction than actually achieving the goal. Spending 5 minutes on decluttering is more doable, and happiness-inducing, than setting aside an entire weekend to get organized.

People feel empowered, lighter, less burdened … and they get happier when they get de-cluttered. Isn’t it worth a try?

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Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, Perspective, professional organizer, Strategies

The Best Wedding Gift Ever

Your child is getting married or graduating or having a baby…what is the most thoughtful gift you could give them that would last a lifetime? A filing system!

Now, a filing system may sound like the most boring, uninspired gift you could possibly give someone but bear with us while we explain…

A good basic filing system is an essential part of an organized life. Despite the promises of a paperless world, we constantly see people overwhelmed and confused by piles of paper in their homes. Often the problem starts at one of these of these major life events where suddenly the amount and types of paper coming in multiplies exponentially.

For a new graduate, having a central place to manage personal records, job history, and tax documents starts to teach them about leading an adult life.

For couples getting married, having a central place where all important insurance, ownership, certificates, account & tax documents are kept minimizes stress and will help them manage a life that will become increasingly more complicated.

For new parents, having a central place to keep health records, school paperwork, parenting resources, and sports/camp info prevents the stress and inefficiency of searching the house for needed documents. Providing a dedicated box for memorabilia/artwork is a great addition to a filing system.

You can easily set up a basic system in a portable file box, small or large, using categories you create or a kit such as Freedom Filer. The box doesn’t have to be their permanent container; they may already have a filing cabinet or one may be needed once all their papers are gathered.

Basic categories include:

  • Career
  • Health
  • Insurance
  • Finances
  • Personal
  • Resources
  • Vital Documents (passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc.)
  • Taxes

Give your loved ones a head start on the challenges of paper management. A gift certificate to a professional organizer to help them integrate their papers into the system and further customize would be icing on the cake!

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Filed under Decluttering, Empty Nest, Paper, paper organizing, Products, professional organizer, School, Storage, Strategies, Wedding

Assess Your Home for a Fresh Perspective

Getting Perspective - 1

Get a Fresh Perspective on Your Clutter

Clients call, ready to make some changes in their home and excited about the process – “Let’s get started!” Before diving right in, it can be helpful to spend some time making a plan of attack. To create lasting solutions, you have to know what problems you’re trying to solve and why they are happening in the first place.

Assessment Goals

  • Identify what’s not working. One person’s idea of chaos is another’s idea of serenity.
  • What are we aiming for? What is the vision you have for your space? Understanding a person’s goal for how the space would ideally look and function helps define the work to be done.
  • What’s most urgent? Understanding how the problem areas relate to each other (or don’t), and how each affects daily living helps set priorities for the hands-on work.
  • What is causing the clutter? Understanding the cause helps guide the appropriate solution.

Organizing Concepts

Often, clutter begins because one of the following concepts isn’t being used:

Friends with Friends. Keep “like” items together.

Real Estate Value. Don’t let low-use items clog up prime real estate; make conscious choices about where things live.

Container As Limiter. Consciously limiting a collection to its container prevents overflow.

Habits vs. Systems. Sometimes items that are sitting out and creating clutter actually do have homes. An assessment will identify the routines that need to be implemented.

Function & Feel. How does the space function? Can the furniture be arranged to allow for more flow? Is there enough light in the space? Is the space conducive to focused work or free form play? Can décor provide a draw to a certain area?

Assessment Benefits

  • You get a sense of the scope of your project … and help setting priorities
  • You get an objective perspective of your space…seeing it through another’s eyes
  • You get trained in the basic organizing principles
  • You get creative options that you may not have thought of on your own
  • You’ll find out that you’re not alone in the struggle to get and stay organized…and you’ll get the benefits of other clients who have come before

Because everything changes over time, organizing is a life-long process. For the most part, your project will have a beginning and an end but don’t forget you’ll need to occasionally re-assess in order to keep your systems current with your life. Give your self the gift of an assessment.  It could change your perspective for life!

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Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, home organizing, organizing, Perspective, professional organizer, Strategies

Fear Factor: Papers You Don’t Think You Can Handle

In the spirit of Halloween we continue the discussion of how to banish the fears that keep us from starting organizing projects.

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Fear #2: Papers You Don’t Think You Can Handle

Imagine this scenario: you get a thick envelope in the mail from your attorney…aaack! You don’t want to deal with it. You throw it in a pile, in a remote drawer or just leave it in your “in-box”.

If you’re lucky, days (or months) later, you get a call from your attorney’s office. “Did you get the papers we sent to you to fill out? They are time sensitive. “ If you’re not lucky, you’ll never hear from them again.

This is the kind of stuff that populates that scary file drawer or mail pile. It’s overwhelming, you don’t understand it all, and you know you’re going to have to THINK to figure out what to do next. Everyone seems to have an area like this; an “I can’t deal with this pile.”

Fear banishing strategies:

  1. Grab someone’s hand and tackle the pile together
  2. Pour a shot or two of whiskey and dive in
  3. Call your attorney and ask them to walk you through it
  4. Set a timer and commit to spending 10 minutes looking through the drawer
  5. Sign up for a “get it done” session with a coach, an organizer, a friend
  6. Break down the project into bite-sized chunks.
  7. Write down in advance –before you even look in the drawer or deconstruct the pile – what you “think” you have to do …providing a framework with which to sort the pieces of information

The project may be more than you can handle. But unless you dip your toe in, you may never know.  Asking for help, even to break open the drawer or pry apart the envelope is a valid strategy!

Next up…tackling those things that conjure up ghosts from the past…

 

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Filed under Decluttering, disorganization, Office, organizing, Paper, Perspective, professional organizer, Strategies, Work