Tag: professional organizer

The “When Is It Time To Get Organized?” Test

You’ve probably wondered, “When should I get organized?” and never really came up with an adequate answer for yourself. So, I thought I’d help you determine the best time to start doing some organizing.

The true test in judging the correct time to tackle this kind of activity lies in how you score in any of the answers below. If you score at least one out of the 10 issues listed here, then it’s safe to say the time is now.

1. When you no longer have a sofa or chair to sit on.

sofa-clutter

It’s no fun coming into a room to relax, read a book or watch TV when you find there’s no place to sit that isn’t filled with your stuff on it. Sure, you can shove off some stuff to make room for yourself, but it can become tiresome after the repeated routine of 1) tossing stuff on chair, 2) shoving stuff on floor so you can sit on chair 3) vacating the chair and starting over with #1.

2. When you just purchased several items of food that you already had.

food-clutter

It’s easy to think you’re out of something when a lot of your food is hidden behind the cluttered mess of food in front of it. Out of sight, out of mind when it comes to cooking up that recipe you decided to make.

3. When you no longer have space in your kitchen to cook.

counter-clutter

Stuff can take over counter-top space just as easily as stuff takes over other places. It’s like a disease that spreads throughout the counter space and soon the whole area is infected with stuff that belongs in cabinets (or trash can .. or even other parts of your house).

4. When you can’t see your desktop anymore.

desk-clutter

This is a sign that your paper clutter has gone too far. It’s taken over your desk space and left you with nothing but piles of paper on it. That nice desk surface is totally meaningless, and the money you spent on a desk to work at is now just a desk for your paper to sit at.

5. When you have misplaced your keys for the hundredth time.

keys

Even if it’s the 20th time, you’re getting close enough to warrant some time spent to re-think your actions from the time you arrive home to when you start unloading or dropping off stuff.

6. When you start sleeping on the sofa to avoid the mess on your bed.

bed-clutter

The main problem with this is that, once the sofa has accumulated stuff, you’ll no longer have a place to sit or sleep. So, if this becomes a problem, it is definitely time to get organized because we all need to sleep sometime.

7. When you can’t find anything to wear even though your closet is full of clothes.

closet-clutter

This is a dilemma that a lot of women face, more so than men. But an over-stuffed clothes closet can have disastrous effects on a woman’s ability to dress fashionably. And, when she can’t find that outfit she just bought, it’s even more of a crisis.

8. When you’ve run out of your designated space to put more stuff.

cabinet-mess

Linen closets are known to accumulate more towels and bed linens. But kitchen cabinets are notorious for presenting you with this issue because new things are continually purchased for the kitchen, even if we don’t need it or already have it.

9. When your storage areas can no longer store anything else.

storage closet mess

Big problem here. You have stuff to put away somewhere and there doesn’t appear to be anymore places to put it, especially since the places we normally shove things in is now completely full.

10. When you have come to the conclusion that you fed up with too much stuff.

Enough said.

P.S. It may also be time to call a professional. (a professional organizer, that is).

 

The Trust Factor Of Home Organizers

Home Organizer

Going into the home of someone we don’t know to provide a service to them is what a professional organizer does. Clients don’t come to us, we go to them. And a home is a person’s private place, unlike walking into their place of work or business.

My profession is unique because essentially I’m in the kind of business that gets into other people’s business – like they way they live. I often see what other people never get to see and find out about things they never shared with anyone.

I’ve walked into homes where I was the first “outsider” to step foot in it for years since they were too embarrassed to have any guests over. This included their own children. Granted, most of those cases had extreme clutter, but some places were not so bad. And the places I felt were not so bad, the person felt it was bad enough to them because of their standard of living.

So it’s my job to make them feel comfortable in their own home when I’m in it essentially. After all, they entrusted me to come into their home when they wouldn’t let anyone else in, or were too ashamed to allow people see it, especially an outsider like me.

Some people will even make an attempt beforehand to put things in order before I come to put things in order for them. But I always ask them not to. The reason is that I need to see the whole picture to get to the bottom of the problem. If things have been tidying up in an area, I won’t know that things ever get tossed and accumulated in that area. And then I won’t be able to assess a solution that can resolve an issue I don’t see.

Aside from me getting into other people’s business, I’m also in the business of help. And as such, when I walk into a a person’s home, I’m are there to provide help, not criticism.

When I walk into a person’s home, I bring with me my skills, knowledge and experience. And this how I can commence in the process of changing their life. I can’t change a person’s life effectively if I bring hostility toward their environment and become critical of the way they live or how they do the things they do that got them in a such a mess. This doesn’t help them.

It’s really comes down to my outlook and attitude when I’m in a person’s home. I don’t see the room as a disorganized mess. I see how the room can be made better. I don’t delve into how terrible a condition that a person is living in. I visualize a place of sanctuary for them. I think people pick up on my attitude and even start visualizing the space becoming what they want it to be. This motivates them even more.

Most all those organizing shows I’ve seen on TV upset me because I see the professional organizer become critical, even hostile toward a person they are there to help. Some of the remarks I’ve heard them make prompted me to change the channel or turn off the TV even.

Maybe it’s all about the drama. A show has to have drama. When I was doing a particular organizing segment on TV, the producer wanted me to berate the girl I was organizing to make it more entertaining. I said I wouldn’t scold her since it wasn’t my nature to do that sort of thing. With all the producer’s prompting and suggestions on what I could say, I ended up being playful with the girl I was organizing and even made her laugh. To me, that was entertaining enough. The show aired but I was never asked to come back.

Bottom line is, it’s my job to build trust with a person when I’m in their home. The same applies to being at their place of work, but even more so in their private space among their private belongings and private papers. And the best way I know how to accomplish that trust is to be a professional. That means to act in such a way that they feel comfortable enough to tell and show me their deepest, darkest organizing problems. It doesn’t mean to be critical of them or their space.

And this is how I have spent 21 years making a difference in people’s lives. Feels good.

 

 

Through The Eyes Of A Professional Organizer

eyes

Yesterday I found myself doing a bit of re-organizing in my kitchen. Not because it was disorganized, but because I had decided it could be better, and better is always good, right?

People sometimes think of us professional organizers as anal in the way we want things organized and maybe they are right. But anal (and one not meant in the biological sense, of course) is a harsh term so we would probably like it (the way we want things organized) to be referred to as a calculated, or somewhat meticulousness behavior.

When I experience something non-optimum or not pleasing in my own environment, I want to change it. Like when I was preparing food on my kitchen counter the other day and didn’t have as much counter space as I wanted to prepare everything. I knew stuff I had kept on my counter just had to go, and I already had the bare minimum on it. And although I didn’t know where it would go to at the time, I set in motion a decision it had to go someplace else.

And that’s all it took – a decision to change the space.

I stood back at eyed the room from a slight distance. From there, I stepped back in and let my eyes roam through my cabinet spaces and everywhere else in the area. Being one of the smallest kitchens I had ever had, it has always been a challenge, even after extreme down-sizing my kitchen stuff before moving in.

The solutions I found were there all along but I just didn’t realize it until I looked. That’s the thing with professional organizers – we can look at a space and find other, better solutions for it. I believe a lot of other people can do this as well once they actually look.

And I think that’s where our expertise comes in – in finding other, better solutions that others couldn’t come up with on their own. We can compare that to interior decorating or remodeling. We hire professionals to redecorate because we feel we don’t have the eye for it. And maybe some of us don’t.

The thing is, there are 4 simple steps in embarking upon changing a space:

  1. Making the decision to change the space.
  2. Looking at the space with new perspectives.
  3. Calculating what you already have as available resources for solutions.
  4. Trying out those solutions in the space.

So, I changed my tiny kitchen counter space and I’m happy for now. Who knows, it may need tweaking again sometime in the future. But for now, I have more counter space and that was my goal.

Here’s the side of my kitchen showing the counter space I put my attention on:

organized kitchen

If I can help you with your organizing goals, just let me know!

What 21 Years As A Professional Organizer Brings

cyndi seidler professional organizer

Recently I was reflecting on how I got my start in this business and where I’m at today. I’ve come a long way in building my professional organizing business, yet today I find myself at ground zero in marketing my services as The Organizing Lady. That is because I have a new company name and a new website and people are not finding me as easily as they used to.

See, starting HandyGirl Organizers in 1994 meant going to a lot of networking events, passing out flyers all over town, running ads and pounding the pavement visiting businesses to leave my brochure. It also meant putting a website on this new thing called the Internet of which I wasn’t sure anyone would find, let alone search for it.

For 19 years I had grown my HandyGirl business into a profitable enterprise until I had to retire from it due to body-health issues at the time, and turned the business over to my daughter who had worked with my organizing clients for 10 years. I focused my attention on my other skill sets – like web design, internet marketing and video production – all of which I learned on behalf of building my HandyGirl company.

It wasn’t until a year ago that I decided I was well enough to get back into “the biz” and established myself as The Organizing Lady to service the Valley areas while HandyGirl aimed at servicing the other Los Angeles city areas closer to my daughter’s location.

By this time, I’ve accumulated 21 years in the business of professional organizing. The rewards had always kept me going over the years, no matter how hard the work was. I knew I had made a difference in many people’s lives and wanted to continue making a difference. But my expertise and experience has not given me a leg up in the industry.

Times have changed and people seem to be shopping for professional organizers like shopping for a good pair of shoes, except the best fit isn’t always their choice. Often times the choice is about the lowest price. And many of the newbies in this profession start out below industry rate standards, which makes the competition more stiff.

With the economy the way it is today, who can blame them? But to lessen the value of my service is something I have not been willing to do. Because my 21 years of experience, knowledge and skills is what I bring to the table for my clients and my rates are actually way below the value in that (since other veteran organizers charge $100 /hr or more).

Writing this is more like therapy for me, since I’m not even sure people will be reading this. After all, my new website hasn’t climbed to Google’s page one ranking (yet) and people are not finding me as easily as they used to. But if you are reading this, you may gain a little more understanding of my roots and where I started and will know me a little better. After all, knowing me better is liking me better. I hope.

 

 

Organizing Lady Advice Featured In LA Times

clothes-clutter

In a recent article published in LA Times and Chicago Tribune, it features my advice on cutting clutter out of your life. It is titled, Lose it: declutter your way to an organized, happier you”.

Here is an excerpt of this article:

No matter how it all got there, reducing the stuff of life is not an easy task, but it is a necessary one.

Even if there are no plans to downsize, getting rid of clutter is always a good idea says professional organizer Cyndi Seidler, founder of Handy Girl Organizers and The Organizing Lady, two Los Angeles based firms specializing in dealing with the “stuff.”

One sure sign that something is not needed is when it is placed in the garage.

“I call the garage the resting place before final burial,” says Seidler. “It’s the place you put things that you don’t want in the house, but you don’t want to throw away.” Seidler says important “belongings” become insignificant “stuff” once they have been unused for years.

Seidler admits that saying goodbye to one’s belongings can be emotional. “Everything can’t be saved as memorabilia,” she cautions. “Keeping the shoes you wore when you first met your husband — shoes you can no longer wear and that you have not looked at in 25 years, is not memorabilia. It is stuff,” says Seidler.”

And, further along in the article …

It is a good idea to declutter now instead of later,” says Seidler. “If you don’t do it now, your children or relatives will have to do it if you become disabled or pass away. Do you really want them to have to go through all your clutter and wonder why you kept these things?”

Well, there you have it! The Organizing Lady is in the news!

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