Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Cautionary Tale for Professional Organizers


I was doing a phone consultation with one of my clients the other day and we were talking about things we should not tolerate. Out of the blue came "I don't like working with organizers."

Whoa! Where did that come form? Had I done something that hurt her?

Well, as it turns out it was not me that set this off but some of her other experiences but as I listened and made notes, some of what she said hit home - especially in my early career.

Here's her list:

  • They don't really listen to what I want to happen in the session. If I am asking for help in finding homes for my belongings, I am not asking them to purge or mess with things that are already working. If I already have a home for many of my items, it is not right for them to move those things. For example, I have some tools and household items stored on some small shelves in my bedroom closet. These shelves are even labeled. Why would they spend their time going through and rearranging those items?
  • They argue. If they suggest I need to toss something (and remember, we were not even talking about purging) and I say I want to keep it, they continue to push their point. They say things like "if you are not using it now, toss it" or "how many calculators or pairs of jeans do you really need?' or "if you are not going to mend that now, you should just toss it". I feel they are not really listening to me and are disrespectful of my wishes.
  • They don't respect my values. If I indicate that I recycle then they should not toss recyclables into the trash. After the organizers left I noticed my glass jars for recycling were missing. This made me mad, so I crawled through the dumpster to retrieve them. While making this dig, I also noticed some small toy pieces from my child's toys and some paper that was mine. Now I can't find a check from my mother and my season pass to the aquarium and I wonder.....
  • They insult me. One organizer suggested that I paint a piece of furniture with slate paint. It was my grandfather's chair. I felt she had insulted me and my furniture. She was not invited into my home to do interior decoration but just to help me clear the clutter.
  • They don't take ownership of their mistakes. When I talked to one of the organizers about my dissatisfaction, she said that she was sorry for the miscommunication. If feel that I was very clear on my communication. 
Now, I am not so naïve as to suggest that this was all the organizers fault. We all know that there are two sides to every story. but the scary thing was that I have said some of these things myself and I wonder if I have upset clients but they were just not willing to confront me.

So, if you are an organizer, read this and see if any of it resonates. If you are a client, read this and know how important it is that as you work with us and things are not going the way you envisioned, that you stop us right then and there and tell us what you are experiencing. The last thing we want to do is hurt someone or be disrespectful. 


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Elderly and Clutter

Sometimes I help empty out houses of deceased parents. The children left behind are often astonished at the amount of clutter left behind. This accumulation does not really fit with the mother or father they knew growing up. They wonder what happened.

Possible reasons for clutter in the elderly:
  • They are weaker physically
As parents age, they often develop physical difficulties that they might not share with their children. It is harder for them to move around. Putting things away may be difficult so they leave the items out on the table or counter "just for now". They may think they are going to get better and they have visions of giving parties and entertaining again, so they continue to buy and keep cooking paraphernalia that they never will use. They may have difficulty doing laundry and when the laundry becomes overwhelming, they may just order new clothing. During the holiday seasons it is easier to just buy a few new decorations rather than pull down and use what they already have.
  • They don't see the clutter
The buildup of clutter may come slowly over time. They adjust to what is in their home and stop seeing it as clutter. The same may be true of odors that have developed because cleaning is now more difficult. If they were shown a picture of their living area, they would probably be surprised.

  • They have mental issues
They may forget that they have items and so continue to buy more of what they already have in abundance. As dementia sets in they also forget to put things away, eat properly, and take care of other living skills. Things accumulate around them. Anxiety and depression are also common in the elderly. They may shop just for the social contact. They may worry about not being able to get what they need later so they overbuy now.

  • Fear of want
Because they are on a fixed income and no longer have a regular paycheck, they worry that their money will run out. When they see a good deal on canned food, light bulbs, soaps, paper products, they buy in bulk. There is not usually a good place to store all these products, so they are placed here and there, often on the floor. If an item becomes broken, they hold on to it with the idea that it can be fixed someday.
  • Gifts
Perhaps the parent was once a great cook and loved to throw parties so still now they are gifted with cookbooks and cooking paraphernalia they do not need. They may get gifts of throws for the couch, scented soaps, or because they loved dogs, figurines, pictures, and books about dogs. The parent does not want to give away or throw away someone's gifts, so they just accumulate. 

There are many reasons why the clutter accumulates but the crucial point is that children should be in contact with their parents and go to their homes to visit. Having parents come to their home or going on a cruise with them will not tell the whole story. 



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Zone Plan: Organizing Your Entry Hall



I work with a Zone Plan to organize and deep clean my entire home. In the spring I like to concentrate on my back-entry hall and one storage wall in my laundry room. Although most of my guests enter through the front door, there are times when they do come through the side door off the car port plus this is where the family usually enters so I want this area to be warm and welcoming. I want this area to make people smile when they enter my home. I have hung and placed whimsical art in this area just for fun. This is also an area where incoming and outgoing items are held. Current outerwear is left here on hooks. Cloth grocery bags, when unpacked after a grocery run, are hung here until the next person makes a trip to the car. Outgoing mail is laid on the bench until the next run to the post office. While this is a staging area for incoming and outgoing items, nothing is allowed to stay long. At the most items may linger a day or two. The vision is to have fun accessories and not clutter in this area. Right outside the door there are two planters and a whimsical frog to welcome you.

The storage hall in my laundry has many purposes. I have an elfa wall unit to hold overflow from other areas of my home. This one wall holds entertainment supplies, recycling bins, a cat box, extra litter, bird seed, tool kits, cleaning products, extra file crates from the office and a hanging rod for clothes taken from the dryer. What a hodgepodge! Surprisingly, this zone works well. However, as I go through this zone, I look closely at what is there. I am sure some of the items can be purged, like that container of cat food the cat will no longer eat. Some items get dumped in here that really belong in the storage shed so now is the time to move them to their final destination. When I am finished, there will be less clutter and more open spaces.

At the end of the month, I will reward myself by buying some blooming flowers to place in the pots outside the door.

For more help on organizing your space, order my workbook, From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home.
http://timespaceorg.com/order_book.php


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer