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Hannah Ashwell-Dickinson smiling

Interview with an organiser: Hannah Ashwell-Dickinson

Have you ever wondered what being a professional organiser is like beyond the Facebook page? You might wonder if their homes are spotless, why they started their business, and of course the ultimate question; how do they stay so organised? APDO sat down with Hannah Ashwell-Dickinson to talk home, business and top tips on what it’s like to be a professional organiser.

What does being organised mean to you? What does being organised look like?

Being organised has given me more time, better physical and mental health, improved productivity, and reduced anxiety. It really has changed my life. Having a home that is easy to maintain means I can concentrate on the things that really matter to me – my family, my business, and my well-being.

What is your favourite thing or area to organise?

I love organising living rooms and playrooms. Helping a client create a welcoming and calm living space that they enjoy being in, and are happy to invite guests into, is really satisfying.

What habits have helped you to be more organised?

Having a goal! Setting goals for my home keeps me focused and disciplined in my organising. I’m always looking to find more time to spend with my daughters and myself; having an organised home helps me do that. Having a goal keeps me motivated and accountable.

You’re a professional organiser – does that mean you live in a perfectly organised, neat-as-a-pin home?

Ha! My home looks like any home that has two young children in it – there is Lego on the floor and there are clothes to put away.  But living with less and being organised means that it doesn’t take long to ‘reset’ our spaces. All items have a home so even when the house has become messy, it doesn’t take long to put it all away.  Our house is organised so that is functions well and my family can relax and enjoy being in it, but it certainly doesn’t look like a show home!

What benefits do your clients experience from becoming more organised?

The biggest benefit is that they no longer feel a sense of dread when they enter their homes. They describe feeling calmer and less anxious. Often clients say that they have gained extra time in their day as they can easily find things, and it’s quicker to tidy up. Most importantly, clients say that they are now able to move forward with other aspects of their lives that they have previously felt stuck in. Removing clutter and getting organised gives them the space (both physical and mental) to take the next steps in their lives.

When you are going to a client, what essentials are in your organising bag / toolkit?

Sticky labels and pens are useful to keep track of items that need to be taken to the charity shop; recycled; or re-homed elsewhere. I also take a folding board to fold clothes neatly and a label-maker to label boxes. Most importantly, I bring with me a calm demeanour and stacks of empathy. Clients need to be listened to without judgement and for me to hold space for them while they work through their organising challenges.

What’s the most memorable collection you’ve seen? (What did you / the client do with them)

I came across an impressive Harry Potter memorabilia collection. The reason the client wanted to organise their home in the first place, was to get rid of clutter so that their HP collection could take centre stage.

What’s the best outcome you’ve ever seen?

I’ve helped several families get on top of their clutter and get organised when they have been very close to their baby’s due date! It’s wonderful to instil a sense of calm in the client and their home before such a momentous occasion.

Who’s your dream client? Who do you most like to help?

My dream clients are wonderful, creative, passionate people who are time-poor, overwhelmed and have become stuck. They often feel alone and anxious and are looking for a steady hand to help them. They are big-hearted and always have something to teach me too. All my clients have it in them to make change for themselves, they usually just need someone to motivate, empower, and most importantly, believe in them.

What’s your top tip to share?

Getting organised requires motivation and discipline. On the days you feel motivated, use that momentum to tackle an organising job you’ve been putting off and tackle it in small chunks so you don’t get overwhelmed. On the days you don’t feel motivated, try to be disciplined; you know you will feel better when you tackle that stack of post for example. Set yourself a timer, and reward yourself with a stroll around the park, or a coffee and a pastry when it’s done.

If you’d like to get in touch with Hannah about her services, you can do so by contacting her on her website here.

If you’re interested in becoming a professional organiser, and want to learn more about APDO, visit our Why Join APDO page.