5 Lessons From 5 Years as a Pro Organizer
Five years ago today I launched my business, Pretty Neat! It’s hard to believe that much time has passed and I am so grateful to all of you who have attended my classes, hired me to help with your organizing and design projects, followed me on social media, taken part in my decluttering challenges, and read my weekly emails. Your support has allowed me to continue doing work that I am truly passionate about - thank you!!
To say I have learned a lot in the last five years is an understatement. I took this leap with virtually no business training and have had to figure all of that out along the way. There are also the lessons I have learned from hearing the stories of people I’ve worked with in their homes and interacted with in my classes. These are the five most important lessons I’ve learned from five years as a professional organizer.
1. One size does not fit all - There are no universal solutions for getting organized. This is why some people think Marie Kondo’s method is life changing and others find it to be just a bunch of new age weirdness. Some people thrive in a clean, decluttered environment, while others are most comfortable surrounded by all their precious belongings. It’s my job to help people figure out what works best for them and to design systems they can easily maintain.
2. Life transitions are hard - Moving, downsizing, getting married, getting divorced, having a child, losing a parent, losing a spouse, changing jobs, retiring: life is full of challenging transitions and the big ones throw us for a loop. I am usually hired when a client is experiencing one or more of these events, and it can be difficult for them to get a handle on what stuff will be useful in their next phase. If you’re going through a big life change give yourself a break and know it’s going to be tough for a while. My new course Too Much STUFF! addresses this very specifically, and you can find more information about it here.
3. Done is better than perfect - I personally love a detailed, super complex system of organizing, but I’ve learned simple solutions are easier to implement. A straightforward system with just a few broad categories can be set up in a short amount of time, whether it’s bookshelves, the kitchen pantry, clothes closet, or filing cabinet. I now strive to get it done quickly even if imperfectly, knowing I can always go back and refine the system later.
4. Everyone is struggling with something - I visit lots of beautiful homes in my work and meet some very successful people. I found this intimidating when I started out, but I have learned that we all have more in common than we think. Every family is touched by loss at some point, and we all share struggles with relationships, work, and health. There is no shame in admitting you are having a hard time. Which brings me to my final point...
5. We can’t do it alone - I often hear clients say “I’m just not good at this.” when referring to the messy state of their home. Being organized does not come easy to everyone and that is why I have this business. Do what you are good at and ask for help with the rest. If maintaining a tidy home is a constant struggle for you, I can help you shift your thinking and set up systems to stay organized as you navigate life's challenges.
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Make it fab!