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APDO Sarah Owen professional organiser

Interview with a Professional Organiser: Sarah Owen

This National Organising Week, we have been showcasing seven of our members – one each day throughout the week – to give a real insight into the life of a professional organiser, their challenges, successes and motivations. In our final interview in the series Sarah Owen of A Place for Everything in Hemel Hempstead shares lots of great advice, and tells us about her business.

Sarah Owen of A Place for Everything


What is your favourite thing or area to organise?

I love to organise, so it’s hard to pick just one thing or area as I enjoy bringing order and calm to all my clients, regardless of what they need help with.    I love to help families because I remember how it felt to be overwhelmed by children’s stuff and not having enough time or energy to sort it. A lot of my work involves sorting toys and children’s clothes.  I also get an immense sense of satisfaction helping people with their paperwork and working with them to implement efficient systems and routines to keep it in order.   Paperwork is something that doesn’t generally get messed up by children so stays sorted for longer!

What habits have helped you to be more organised?

It’s the little things, like adopting good routines, which have made the biggest differences in helping me and my own family be more organised.   For example, I insist that everyone puts their coats on the coat hook and shoes on the rack when they come home.  (They don’t always remember, so I sometimes have to tidy up after the children, but the routine is mostly there). We have a bowl for our keys by the front door so we know where they are when we go out again!

I always carry my diary and notebook with me and write things down as I think of them or as soon as I make appointments.   We have a perpetual shopping list on the fridge, so we add things to it as soon as something runs out.  No more forgotten ingredients!

One of my mantras is “Everything in a home should have a home”. I am passionate about making sure things are put away in their proper place as soon as they are not needed.   Where possible I try to tidy and re-set at the end of one day to be ready for the next.  I find a day starts so much more positively if yesterday’s mess has been cleared away.

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

I wish!  I live with a not-so-tidy husband, two children (aged 7 and 11) and two cats.  Some days it is more ordered than others and it is never as tidy as I would like it to be, but I do know where things are, and I do have efficient systems (I just wish everyone else in the family was as passionate as me about following them!)  My daughter’s room is definitely the worst and she’s not even a teenager yet!  Unfortunately, she hasn’t inherited my tidy gene!  At the end of the day, our house is a lived-in home and not a show home.

apdo blog family organising decluttering

What prompted you to set up your business?

Pre-children I spent 10+ years organising corporate events and loved the challenge of juggling lots of projects and relished the fact that no two days were the same.  After having my children, I decided not to return to the events world, mainly because I couldn’t travel and be away from the family for long periods of time.  I therefore wanted to find a job, ideally my own business, which would allow me to work flexibly and utilise my organisational skills.   Having worked in the corporate sector for large companies, I often found it hard to see where I was adding value so wanted to be able to make a tangible difference with what I did next.   I came across APDO and learnt more about the decluttering industry… and the rest, as they say, is history!   I knew this line of work would suit my skill set and more importantly my work would really make a visible difference in people’s lives.  Working for myself means I have lots of flexibility and I love what I do.  In some ways it is like what I did before, as I work with lots of different people, and no two days are the same.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your business?

There have been so many challenges, as I would have expected in changing careers and setting up my own business. The first was overcoming the fear of failing, stepping out and taking a risk to try something new.  I am so glad that I did step out!  One of the biggest challenges I am facing as a small business is building my brand and finding clients in what is still a relatively young industry.  However, I am relishing the challenge of being creative, finding new places to leave my flyers, write blogs, post on social media and talk to everyone and anyone that I come across about my business.  In the past, I would have described myself as an introvert rather than an extrovert, so having to promote and sell myself has certainly forced me to step out of my comfort zone.   A challenge that I am enjoying!

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

  • Black rubbish bags, blue bags for recycling and clear strong bags for charity shop drops
  • Labels, marker pens, elastic bands, scissors and paperclips
  • Examples of files for organising paperwork – e.g. clear wallets, document files
  • IKEA/Lakeland catalogues for storage examples
  • Rubber gloves
  • Caffeine free tea bags
  • Snacks, such as nuts and a banana. Clients often bring out the cakes and biscuits but because I am Gluten Free I prefer to bring my own
  • Water – it’s very thirsty work!
  • Thick socks, as I normally take my shoes off; they keep my feet warm!

What’s the most touching thing a client has ever said to you?

I think this is one of the best testimonials I have received.   It was so satisfying to be appreciated.

“I really can’t praise Sarah highly enough. My flat was a complete nightmare with mess beyond description! I had arranged for a friend to come and help me, but was so embarrassed by how ghastly it looked, that I felt I had to find a professional declutterer. From the minute I met Sarah, I felt at ease and comfortable and didn’t for one second feel she judged my chaotic home. I didn’t know where to start as I was completely overwhelmed by it all, but Sarah came up with ideas that made complete sense. I am absolutely amazed by how much we have already done in a short space of time and completely delighted with seeing space again! Sarah is just really good at the job – organised, calm, warm, non-judgemental, helpful. She has a knack of encouraging me to get rid of things without in any way pressuring me. It is a huge relief to have found someone who can get me back to having a home again. Thank you, Sarah!”

NOW interview Sarah Owen decluttered organised hallway

What’s the best outcome you’ve seen?

I’ve been working with a client for quite some time now and we have decluttered their entire three-bedroom home. We are on the final room, the study, and we still have a bit more work to do, but we are nearly there. We have methodically worked through each room and cleared away years of stuff which is no longer needed.   The house is safe to live in and the client is proud to call it home again.  After several years of not being able to invite friends back, this client can now have guests.  As well as clearing out the unwanted things, we have implemented new systems and routines to stop the clutter accumulating again.  The client has grown in confidence and feels in control of their life again.  Such an amazing achievement for the client and a huge sense of satisfaction for me that I have been able to support them on this journey.

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

This is a really good question!  I guess my flippant answer would be “my dream client would live in a really nice house and just around the corner!”   In reality, I don’t have a “dream client” – I just want to help and support people who are struggling to get organised by themselves.  I aim to help people regardless of their background or current situation and want to make a very real difference to my clients’ lives.   It is always rewarding to be appreciated and to be told that you are making a difference.

What’s your top tip to share?

When organising, tidying or decluttering, I would say little and often is the key to keeping on top of things.  Try not to let things pile up so that they become unmanageable and overwhelming.    If things however do pile up, then tackle small areas at a time and celebrate what you have managed to clear; don’t give up on your goals for a more manageable home.  Big journeys start with small steps and the destination of a calm and clutter free environment is most definitely worth pursuing.

 

If this week’s interviews have inspired you to pursue a career as a professional organiser,you can find out more about the benefits of joining APDO here..
Or if you’d like some help to get organised at home you can find your nearest organiser here.

You can read the rest of this week’s series of interviews with some of our professional organisers here on the APDO blog!

APDO National Organising Week 2018

APDO Marie Bateson decluttering organising

Interview with a Professional Organiser: Marie Bateson

This National Organising Week, APDO is showcasing seven of our members – one each day throughout the week – to give a real insight into the life of a professional organiser, and their challenges, successes and motivations. Today’s interview, our penultimate in this week’s series, is with Marie Bateson of Cut The Clutter in Preston. Marie tells us about her love of organising, and how she has turned it into a business.

Marie Bateson of Cut The Clutter

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

A great question as it made me consider it deeply. The first part, what does organised look like, is obviously different to different people. In a home it could be something as simple as a wall chart showing appointments or, at the other extreme, completely neat and tidy rooms. Some would say tidiness is not a prerequisite of being organised and I agree with this to a point. Having an organised mind, which is not visible, is closer to my idea of what organised means. If your life, schedules, work and time are in a mess, then nothing is manageable. So to me, being organised starts with, and continues to cover, all areas of our day-to-day living.

What is your favourite thing or area to organise?

My favourite area to organise is the kitchen. I enjoy any space and even paperwork, but I feel clients get a lot from re-organised kitchens.  Things are often spread around instead of being kept together, such as baking ingredients, herbs and spices, and the positioning of working areas often needs a rethink. For example, kettles may be at the opposite end of the kitchen to cups. Everyone keeps stuff in their kitchen cupboards that they will never use and once it’s re-organised clients are visibly delighted.

NOW interview Marie Bateson decluttered organised kitchen

I worked with a lady earlier in the year who is a “buyer” and lives alone. She had many duplicates but hadn’t realised how many due to disorderly spaces e.g. 12 jars of marmalade and nine jars of curry sauce. Over the course of a few weeks we made up six boxes for the local food bank. Both of us got great satisfaction from that and I always suggest it now to other clients with too much food.

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

I am very tidy and organised everywhere except my home office. My partner says it’s as if someone else lives in there! As only I use it, I am less bothered, and this indicates that I like people to see my orderly environment. This is interesting, as I hadn’t considered this aspect of my home before! I run out of time regularly and paperwork is the thing that suffers.

What prompted you to set up your business?

I set up my business because of the huge feelings of job satisfaction I get from organising, sorting, staging, dressing and minimalising homes.  This coupled with the good it does for others who need my help.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your business?

The biggest challenge has been, and still is, securing clients. Once I get a client I almost always get repeat business. I have tried lots of methods but, ultimately, they find me.

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

I always carry a plastic box with my essential kit in the boot of my car. It contains bin bags in three colours for sorting (virtually all clients have their own but just in case), scissors, labelling machine, spare batteries, slippers, folding step, bar keepers’ powder, hand sanitizer and my receipt book.

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

A large collection of Durex! Every bag or box I emptied contained a few packets. This was a single, quite reclusive girl and she didn’t seem embarrassed by them – she simply put them all to one side and then took them to her bathroom cupboard.

What’s the most touching thing a client has ever said to you?

The nicest comment I’ve received came from the mother of a client. Her daughter suffers with some mental health issues and I worked with her for a few weeks. Following a couple of sessions her mum said she had never seen her daughter this happy ever!!!

NOW interview Marie Bateson decluttered organised room

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

I don’t think we want the dream client as ultimately, they would be so organised after a session that they wouldn’t need us again. Or is that some organisers ideal? It’s a tricky question! I have some “nice to have” traits when considering my ideal client.  For example, they would be decisive, open to suggestions and would work at a good pace. But to me the dream is to make a person’s life better. To help them feel settled and to enjoy their surroundings. Anyone that gets this outcome is a perfect client to me.

What’s your top tip to share?

My top tip is to start small. Clients who are overwhelmed by the chaos benefit from seeing a key area sorted. I look at the situation and assess where they may appreciate and continually see progress. This could be clearing the kitchen table, the surface of the bed or the entrance hall. I encourage them to keep looking at this area which they are now delighted with and remember what it was like. Realistic expectations need to be set early on, for example, that the whole house cannot be done at once – otherwise a client can feel disappointed. Positive endorsement of what has been achieved is key.

 

If you are considering a career in professional organising like Marie, you can find out more about APDO’s training courses here.
Or if you’d like some help to get organised at home you can find your nearest organiser here.

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for our final interview in this series of interviews with APDO organisers! You can find yesterday’s interview here.

APDO National Organising Week 2018

APDO Lynda Wylie professional organiser

Interview with a Professional Organiser: Lynda Wylie

This National Organising Week, APDO is showcasing seven of our members – one each day throughout the week – to give a real insight into the life of a professional organiser, and their challenges, successes and motivations. Today’s interview, our fifth in the series, is with Lynda Wylie of Tidy Rooms in Surrey. Lynda tells us about her business, and the impact that getting organised can have on a home.

Lynda Wylie of Tidy Rooms

What is your favourite thing or area to organise?

I love getting stuck into a kitchen declutter. It’s one of those places where I find small changes make a big impact. As the hub of most homes, there are a lot of comings and goings – people, post, food, paperwork and more. Whether you’re hungry, in a rush, or just looking for an important piece of paper, you usually need to lay your hands on something fast and easily.  Being organised in the kitchen reduces stress and frustration and makes it a pleasant environment in which to spend time with your family and friends.

NOW interview Lynda Wylie decluttered organised kitchen

What prompted you to set up your business?

I was looking to return to work after having children and, after lots of job interviews which didn’t come to anything, I decided to have a shot at running my own business – the question was, what? I was reading a book at the time where the main character helped her friend declutter her wardrobe and I thought, ‘I could do that, I wonder if anyone else does it?’. As soon as I googled decluttering, I came across APDO and couldn’t believe there was a whole professional industry blossoming in the UK. I jotted down a few ideas and Tidy Rooms was born! I even found a friend prepared to be a guinea pig, so I could try out my idea out first. Six years later and I’m still here and loving what I do!

Who has influenced you most in your organising business?

Julie Morgenstern is an American organiser who wrote “Organising from the Inside Out” in 1998. Her book was the first one I read after deciding to become a professional myself. Her SPACE formula is the basis of how I work with clients and formalised what I already did naturally. Her book really helped clarify my processes and procedures and I continue using it to this day.

What has been the biggest challenge that you have faced in your business?

One of the biggest challenges has been having the courage to give talks about decluttering. I get incredibly anxious about speaking to groups, but I’ve found that once I get started, I love the topic so much it flows very easily. The very first few talks I did alongside a colleague which helped my confidence immensely and since then I’ve given talks on my own and even enjoyed them!

What benefits do your clients experience through becoming more organised?

Clients often tell me how much quicker and easier it is to do day-to-day tidying once a room’s been decluttered. It’s much easier for them to find things and put them away again. Plus, it often saves them money: they can see how much they have of something so they don’t buy duplicates, they use up their supplies and they even sell things they discover they no longer need. They also mention a greater sense of calm because there’s less clutter and unmade decisions surrounding them. This helps them think more clearly, rest and enjoy spending time at home. It can impact the whole family and many clients have said it’s been a life changing experience for them.

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

I always take coloured bags to help us distinguish rubbish/recycling/charity, a labelling machine for neat sticky labels, wipes/duster to clean as we go, sticky notes and scissors. Oh, and a cereal bar to keep me going!

What’s the most memorable collection that you have ever seen? And what did you and your client do with it?

I had a client who collected brand new £5 notes. She had a big pile of them, but the clever thing was she would give one to her nephews whenever she saw them, so although it seemed strange to collect current notes, she had a purpose for them and was gradually working through them!

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

It’s fantastic when you have the opportunity to declutter and organise a whole house. The impact on the client can be so far reaching, it’s even life changing. I’ve been working with a client for the past 2 years who relocated to London and needed help deciding the purpose of her rooms and arranging their layouts as well as contents.  Everything from the kitchen, to part of the garden, to the basement and the library. Seeing the whole house gradually evolve to meet her family’s needs and her excitement and delight as rooms were transformed, has been such a privilege and a pleasure. She’s been able to redecorate, make money from the sale of furniture, have guests to stay, even plan an extension. She’s grown in confidence to organise on her own, thinks differently about her space and finds living at home much less stressful.

NOW interview Lynda Wylie decluttered organised cupboard

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

My dream client is someone who knows they need change but they’re not sure what or how to do it. Working together we look at how they live in their space and what changes will turn it into a home which meets their current needs. It’s a real honour to share this process with them and guide them through decision making, helping them reflect on how they live and what they have. Decluttering and organising is so much more than just the stuff, you really get to know your clients and often their families too. I think the clients who are open to trying new ways of living, whether that’s tackling their stuff, changing habits or developing systems, they are the ones who experience the most benefit from the journey and I love sharing it with them.

What’s your top tip to share?

There are so many, it’s really hard to pick just one! I’d say grouping similar items together is often a game changer for my clients.  This means storing all your similar items together. So for example, in the kitchen, it’s putting all your cleaning products in one place, all your cups in one cupboard, all your cookery books on one shelf. That way you can see what you have, what needs using up, what’s missing, how much storage you need and more. It’s a technique to use all over your home, in every room and will help define your spaces and rationalise your stuff so you can be more organised.

If you are considering a career in professional organising like Lynda, you can find out more about APDO’s training courses here.
Or if you’d like some help to get organised at home you can find your nearest organiser here.

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for our penultimate interview in the series! You can find yesterday’s interview here.

APDO National Organising Week 2018

APDO Krista Thompson professional organiser

Interview with a Professional Organiser: Krista Thompson

This National Organising Week, APDO is showcasing seven of our members – one each day throughout the week – to give a real insight into the life of a professional organiser, and their challenges, successes and motivations. Today’s interview, our fourth in the series, is with Krista Thompson of Zen Den in Oxford. Krista shares her tips for an organised home, and tells us about some of her successes with clients.

Krista Thompson of Zen Den

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

Being organised to me means a stress-free space. Things should go where they make the most sense so that you don’t have to go on a hunt to find them when you need them. This keeps maintaining the space so much easier. Often, homes are disorganised and cluttered because putting the item back where it belongs is too much trouble to the person using it. Clutter then builds up and putting everything away becomes a mission, hence, the stress! Organised to me looks like everything has a home that makes sense!

What habits have helped you to be more organised?

It’s easy to make something look organised in nice matching baskets but creating a system that makes sense to the person or people using it is the most helpful. When I moved into the house we’re in now, I made sure that we had real organising systems in our home. We have a good system in the kitchen cupboards, a good laundry routine and a good house map of where everything should go. For example, all the paperwork in our house, whether it be warranties or wedding invitations, go into my office. That way, if we need an important document we know exactly where to look because there’s only one place it could be. After setting up the systems, they’ve been really easy to maintain.

What prompted you to set up your business?

I always knew that I wanted to be self-employed, but I loved organising so much that I didn’t think anyone would possibly ever pay me for it. It’s the classic dream of “do what you love” and it seemed a little too good to be true. When I started looking into it though I realised that I have a skill that some people don’t, and I was so excited to help people get their homes back on track. I discovered APDO and realised that there were so many other amazing people in the UK who were the same as me, and I was inspired to start my own business.

What benefits do your clients experience from becoming more organised?

Each client is different, but I think the overall benefit is that they are less stressed. At the end of every organising project I do, I can almost see a physical weight has lifted off my client’s shoulders. It’s just like any major project you’ve been wanting to get done for ages and then you can scratch it off the to-do list!

NOW interview Krista Thompson decluttered organised sitting room

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

My label maker! I have to bring my label maker to every organising project that I do. Things can still get disorganised after having a professional in if people are just blindly putting things away. Little storage boxes in medicine cabinets, big plastic bins in the loft and binders full of paperwork are the easiest things to get mixed up after a space has been organised. If you label them, people will actually stop to look at what they’re putting away.

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

I had a client who really loved Star Trek and had a huge collection of Star Trek memorabilia. They sold some of the items which they no longer wanted on eBay and we made some space for them to display the ones they really loved in their sitting room. 

What’s the most touching thing a client has ever said to you?

I had one client who has a teenage daughter with autism. During the project, the daughter would often wander into the room and we would have long chats about different things while I was working. My client at the end told me that her daughter doesn’t talk to a lot of strangers and that she was touched she felt comfortable enough to spend so much time with me. That made me feel really great!

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

I had a client where we did the whole house, from the attic all the way out to the garage. We filled three skips full of junk, sent three car loads of stuff to the charity shop and sold £200 worth of stuff. Their house wasn’t functional when I first went there. You couldn’t sit on the couches in the living room, you couldn’t use the desks in the offices and the extra storage wasn’t even accessible through everything which had piled up in front of it. When I left, it was like a brand-new home!

NOW interview Krista Thompson decluttered organised home

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

My dream client is someone who is just moving into a house. I have always loved the bits of moving house that no one else likes, and setting up a home so that organised systems are there from day one is so important. And the clients love the fact that they can just walk into their brand-new home and everything is where it should be without having to lift a finger!

What’s your top tip to share?

My top tip is to get to the root of the problem in your home. If there is a space that’s not working for you, there is definitely a reason why. Stand in the space and go through your usual motions to see where things should really be placed and what you have or may have to buy to facilitate that. If you’re still struggling after that, call in an expert! Professional organisers have seen it all, and we’ll definitely be able to help!

 

If Krista’s interview has inspired you to pursue a career as a professional organiser,you can find out more about APDO here.
Or if you’d like some help to get organised at home you can find your nearest organiser here.

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for our fifth interview with an APDO professional organiser! You can find yesterday’s interview here.

APDO National Organising Week 2018

APDO Juliette Harding professional organiser

Interview with a Professional Organiser: Juliette Harding

This National Organising Week, APDO is showcasing seven of our members – one each day throughout the week – to give a real insight into the life of a professional organiser, and their challenges, successes and motivations. Today’s interview, our third in the series, is with Juliette Harding of Tulips De-Cluttering Services in North London. Juliette explains how she found her new career in professional organising, and tells us about some of the challenges and successes she has experienced in her business.

Juliette Harding of Tulips De-Cluttering Services

What habits have helped you to be more organised?

I am very particular about things so can’t leave a messy area when working and finish an area I have started working on. Paperwork has to be in date order with the most recent documents on the top.

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

Pretty much, although I often have clear outs and find a cupboard/drawer that hasn’t been sorted for a while and will give it a good sort out!

What prompted you to set up your business?

I have always loved organising and sorting, and have done it for friends and family for years. But when my father died and I had to sort out my parents’ home I really struggled when I was on my own, and found it completely overwhelming. Yet if someone else was in the house with me, it felt easier somehow.  It was then that I realised that if someone who loves doing this was struggling, how do people who don’t cope?   Hence the plan to start a business and help people.

NOW interview Juliette Harding decluttered organised

Who has influenced you the most in your organising business?

My colleagues/friends in APDO and other networking groups have been a great support. It’s hard going from the corporate world and being part of a large company to being on your own, so having people who won’t judge you but will support you even if you ask a stupid question is important.  When you first start a business, you don’t know what you don’t know until it comes up.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your business?

I have had three clients who are bi-polar and for some reason find I don’t work well with them/for them, so I now try to avoid bi-polar clients.  I do struggle a bit with severe hoarders but tend to pass them on as they need more mental health support than I am equipped or trained to give them.

What benefits do your clients experience from becoming more organised?

Some haven’t been able to sleep in their own beds (one client hadn’t slept in his bed for seven years) or invite friends and family over without feeling embarrassed.  Organising also helps people to save money, as they don’t have to keep buying things simply because they can’t find them!  It also becomes easier to put things away, as everything has a home.

NOW interview Juliette Harding decluttered organised bedroom

What’s the most touching thing a client has ever said to you?

“Thank you!”  This was the client mentioned above. We had been working together for several months and finally I got to his bed, cleared it and put clean bedding on it.  I woke the next morning to a text saying, “Thank you so much for everything you are doing to help me, I slept in my bed for the first time in seven years last night and it was amazing!”  I burst out crying!

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

I think going back to a client months later and seeing that something you put in place for them is still working. That they are no longer struggling to stay on top of an area in their home (this is mostly related to paperwork).

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

My dream client would be someone who is nice – sometimes I enjoy my job so much, I almost feel it’s wrong to be paid!!  Someone who uses me fairly regularly; I have a few clients whom I help with paperwork and that is great as I can plan around them and know I have the work coming up.  I love helping older people who are down-sizing and struggling to make decisions, but these clients are short lived as once they have moved they tend not to need me anymore.

What’s your top tip to share?

If someone is struggling with their “stuff” and trying to do a bit on their own, I tell them to take it slowly, one drawer or area at a time.  When I work with clients I am respectful of their things and treat them as I would want to be treated if someone came into my home and went through my “stuff”.

 

If you are considering a career in professional organising like Juliette, you can find out more about APDO’s training courses here.
Or if you’d like some help to get organised at home you can find your nearest organiser here.

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for our fourth interview with an APDO professional organiser! You can find yesterday’s interview here.

APDO National Organising Week 2018

APDO NOW 2018 Donate-a-Day

Kicking off NOW 2018 with GRACE

How long does it take four professional organisers to move 169 boxes from one stockroom to another? As Chloe Howat of Declutter With Chloe and her three team members found out during this National Organising Week (NOW) Donate-A-Day, you can accomplish a lot in an hour!

On the opening day of NOW 2018, Ingrid Jansen of Organise Your House; Sarah Bickers of Free Your Space; Carrie Ottolini – Professional Organiser and Chloë joined forces in South East London to help local charity, GRACE Refugee Aid organise their donation centre.

GRACE Refugee Aid

Created in 2015 in response to the growing refugee crisis, GRACE Refugee Aid sends clothing and essential supplies to those in need along the migration route in Greece and Syria. The Lee-based charity also supports destitute families locally and abroad with much needed clothing, bedding and baby accessories.

GRACE relies on generous donations from the local community, as well as an army of volunteers to sort and distribute donated clothing, shoes and more. But as GRACE founder Claire explained, “We’ve been in a state of disorganisation as core volunteers have been away over the last few months. We need help to put us back together again.” Time to call in the professionals.

APDO NOW 2018 Donate-a-Day Before

GRACE Refugee Aid: Before

The Donate-a-Day

During this Donate-A-Day, masterminded by former APDO President Ingrid Jansen, the team of four set out to improve GRACE’s stockroom efficiency by rethinking its layout and relocating clothing and footwear sorting stations. The often-neglected shoe racks were moved to a more prominent position to ensure they were given the attention needed to prepare them for shipping, and all donation boxes ready for collection were brought to the back of the building by the loading bay.

After four hours of heavy-lifting and a helping hand from GRACE volunteer Tara, the APDO team had created a more organised and efficient system for sorting donations. And we’re pleased to report ‘the client’ was equally thrilled with the results. Claire said, “It’s been absolutely fantastic having four APDO members helping out and getting us ready for our next shipment. I can’t say how grateful I am.”

APDO NOW 2018 Donate-a-Day After

GRACE Refugee Aid: After

And what did our APDO members make of the day?

“I fully support Donate-A-Day because it’s important for us as professional organisers to give back. We have such special skills that we can share with others. We donate a lot to charity shops thanks to our clients but to be able to donate our time and skills is really important too. And GRACE Refugee Aid couldn’t be a more worthy cause to support”, said Ingrid.

Chloë added, “It never ceases to amaze me what APDO members can achieve when we work together, especially when we’re motivated by such a valuable and essential cause. In just a few short hours, GRACE’s stockroom became a functional space with a defined system for sorting donations.”

“Being new to the professional organising industry and seeing the time and effort given during Donate-A-Day by professional organisers is amazing. I was thrilled to be involved, we made such a huge difference to the organisational systems used at GRACE.  I feel proud to be part of such great association, helping others to get organised during National Organising Week”, said Carrie.

Sarah added, “During National Organising Week we focus on the organising element of our job as opposed to the decluttering we are usually better known for. Doing a Donate-A-Day with a charity is an incredibly rewarding challenge for everyone involved. This is the third year of Donate-A-Day and I can’t recommend it enough – it’s wonderful to be a part of something like this”.

APDO N2018 Donate-a-Day group

National Organising Week

A huge thank you to Ingrid, Sarah, Carrie and Chloë for donating their time during NOW 2018. And keep your eyes peeled for more Donate-A-Day action throughout the week from professional organisers across the country, as well as professional tips and tricks to help you get organised, and a series of daily interviews with professional organisers from around the UK.

You can read more about APDO members’ activity this National Organising Week on the blog. And if this has inspired you to get more organised this NOW2018, you can find your local professional organiser here.

 

 

APDO Jenny Dudfield National Organising Week

Interview with a Professional Organiser: Jenny Dudfield

This National Organising Week, APDO is showcasing seven of our members – one each day throughout the week – to give a real insight into the life of a professional organiser, and their challenges, successes and motivations. Today’s interview, our second in the series, is with Jenny Dudfield of Spark Serenity in Bristol. Jenny explains how she uses the Marie Kondo method to help her clients get organised, increase their happiness and reduce their stress.

Jenny Dudfield of Spark Serenity

What is your favourite thing or area to organise?

I love to organise kitchens!  Kitchens are the hub of the home and as such the room that generally gets used the most by the whole family, which means that they tend to accumulate a lot of different categories of things.  Add in the multitude of gadgets that we use nowadays, all of which take up so much room in the already limited space, and you can see where storage issues start to appear.  It is so hard to envisage where items should go when the cupboards are already full to the brim.  There is nothing I love more than decluttering and reorganising kitchens and making them work better for the families who use them, regaining their love of cooking, making the space easier to clean and giving them more quality time to spend doing the stuff that they love (and not fighting with their cupboards!)

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

No!  No matter how much I would love to live in a constantly pristine show home, I also live in the real world!  Houses get messy and untidy, we’re only human after all.  The difference is that when your home is perfectly organised, all of your items have a place to go and it is so much easier to put things away.  It is much easier to keep on top of things and keep your home tidy and the task is much less daunting when there are places to put things.  Your home is not a storage unit, it should be a sanctuary, a place for you to relax away from the stress of the outside world.  You will feel so much happier and lighter when you love everything you own, and it is all perfectly organised and you want to keep it tidy.

NOW interview Jenny Dudfield decluttered organised drawer

What prompted you to set up your business?

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to start my own business.  I really wanted to make a difference in the world and help people in any way that I could.  After a lot of brainstorming, researching and discussing with friends, I discovered that there was a career path in decluttering and organising that was made for me, using my natural skills to their full potential.  I became certified in the KonMari method of decluttering and professional organising, joined APDO and haven’t looked back since!  I am incredibly passionate about making a real difference in my clients’ everyday lives by decluttering and organising their worlds, increasing their happiness and reducing their stress.  I knew it worked for me and wanted to help as many people as I could achieve the same happiness.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your business?

I think the biggest challenge that I have faced since starting my business is people’s understanding of what it is that I do!  I spend a lot of time explaining to people what professional organising and decluttering is, but when people do understand… they absolutely do understand!  It is getting more and more popular in the UK now, especially as hoarding has now been classified as a mental health disorder by the WHO, which is great news as awareness of the benefits of what we do is becoming more and more well known.

What benefits do your clients experience from becoming more organised?

There are so many benefits which my clients experience when they organise their worlds, far too many to mention!  Mostly they feel an overwhelming sense of positivity, like they can now achieve anything.  Their mental health improves, and they feel less stressed, anxious and depressed.  Once you have decluttered you feel like you have more time to pursue activities that really spark joy for you.  My clients have the space, both physically and mentally, to do things that make them happy: take up a new hobby, rediscover their love for a long-forgotten passion or spend some more quality time with the people they love, while reducing the stressors in their lives.

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

To start with, I use my favourite bag to keep my essentials in.  I take bin bags, gloves, Post-It notes, labels, a pen, a snack (or lunch depending on the time of the session), water (it is thirsty work!) and wet wipes.  I try to keep my essentials to a minimum, as I find that my clients already have most things that we need and we re-purpose a lot of things to work in their newly organised home.

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

I think my absolute favourite thing that I have discovered in one of my client’s possession was a collection of old chocolate wrappers from the 1980s.  The client didn’t even know they were there!  They had been smoothed, flattened and stored along with a whole bunch of “Smash Hits” and “More” magazines (another favourite).  She had moved numerous times over the 27 years with all this ‘clutter’ that she never knew she had.  We discarded them with gratitude for the lessons they provided and moved on to the next item, knowing that they had served their purpose and were no longer needed in her home.

NOW interview Jenny Dudfield decluttered organised bedroom

What’s the most touching thing a client has ever said to you

“You have literally changed my life”.

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

One of my clients did not want to go home after work as she disliked her house so much.  She had completely fallen out of love with it.  We completely organised and decluttered absolutely every item in her home and she rediscovered her long-forgotten love for her house.  It became the sanctuary she deserved, and she couldn’t wait to go home and relax after a hard day at the office.  She created some much-needed head space so she could discover what it was she enjoyed doing, started cooking and looking after herself much better. The process completely changed her life.

What’s your top tip to share?

Before you even start, believe in yourself!  Anyone can declutter, no matter how overwhelming and completely daunting it may seem to begin with.  Do things systematically and break things down into categories to make it more manageable and feel more achievable.  Follow your favourite method (being a fully certified consultant I, of course, promote the KonMari method!).  Create a home for each item based on the place it gets used the most by the whole family so it is easy to find and put away when you’ve finished using it.  Make it easy for yourself, as the harder it is to put things away the less likely you are to do so and you will revert to clutter again.  Keep things you use regularly at eye level and those items used less regularly in harder to reach places.  Keep only items that spark joy for you and you will create the relaxing environment you deserve.

If you are considering a career in professional organising like Jenny, you can find out more about APDO’s training courses here.
Or if you’d like some help to get organised at home you can find your nearest organiser here.

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for our third interview with an APDO professional organiser! You can find yesterday’s interview here.

APDO National Organising Week 2018

APDO Heather Tingle National Organising Week

Interview with a Professional Organiser: Heather Tingle

This National Organising Week, APDO is showcasing seven of our members – one each day throughout the week – to give a real insight into the life of a professional organiser, their challenges, successes and motivations. Today is our first interview, and Heather Tingle of Untangled by Tingle in Sheffield explains how her “naturally messy” ways brought her to a new career as a successful and supportive professional organiser.

Heather Tingle of Untangled by Tingle


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

For me it’s a feeling of being in control, of being able to be proactive, rather than reactive. It looks like a home to relax in rather than a home to be ashamed of or stressed out by.

What is your favourite thing or area to organise?

I love organising clothes. I adore turning “floordrobes” into organised spaces where clients rediscover items they have bought but have forgotten about.  It’s wonderful to hear them say goodbye to clothes that don’t fit and just stay in the wardrobe and make them feel bad. The best bit is that a decluttered and organised clothing space impacts on a client in such a positive way. The thrill when they wake up in the morning and can get their hands on clothes perfect for their day, through to saving time getting ready, or the bonus of less time spent sorting laundry: a decluttered wardrobe is a simple process which reaps so many rewards.

apdo organised decluttered wardrobe

What habits have helped you to be more organised?

I love the “60 Second Rule”: if it takes 60 seconds to do when I see it needs doing, I do it.  Whether it’s putting something away, washing a cup or picking something up off the floor these little things make a difference to a tidy, clean home staying that way.

You’re a professional organiser – does that mean that you have a perfectly tidy, neat-as-a-pin home?

Oh, not a chance! I have two dogs, two cats and a crazy eight year-old, plus I’m a naturally messy person too. I may be a professional organiser, but I’m not naturally organised like many of my colleagues! The way I work is that as I’m naturally messy I know what strategies really work to keep my home organised.  As my home is now clutter-free it does get untidy but, unlike before I decluttered, it now takes minutes to get it back to ‘reset point’ each evening (when it’s fabulously clean and tidy with everything back in its place) as opposed to the weeks it would have taken before (and lots of things hidden in unused rooms or thrown into cupboards).

What prompted you to set up your business?

I used to be a hoarder, but then I learned to declutter using the KonMari method and never looked back.  I found it had such a massive impact on my life that I couldn’t stop talking about it!  That turned into me advising friends, family and clients in my shop, and then I became known as the ‘decluttering lady’.  I then discovered APDO and it just seemed like the perfect fit – a way to help others go through similar transformations.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your business?

To be honest I’ve never really had to face anything that’s fazed me. The biggest challenge I had was after my first-ever full day kitchen decluttering session.  I must’ve done so many squats without realising that the next day I really struggled to walk down stairs!

APDO decluttered organised kitchen

What benefits do your clients experience from becoming more organised?

There are just so many! Regardless of the client, the one phrase that is usually mentioned is that they feel ‘lighter’. Clutter becomes a weight which you don’t realise is on you until that weight is lifted away. Clients find they save time and money by decluttering. Many clients I’ve worked with have found their lives transformed.  Clients with mental health issues find that decluttering, although emotional at the time, is cathartic and can help with anxiety and depression in many cases.

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

I love my IKEA blue bags and drawer dividers for sorting things. There are always Sharpie markers and labels, Post-It notes and a ‘to-do’ list… and a letter opener comes in handy when doing a paperwork session. A bottle of water is essential too – it’s thirsty work decluttering!

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

For me it was being privileged to be the first person in a client’s home in 30 years, and by the time I finished working with the client they said they were going to invite their friends over as they’d never been able to before. We went from struggling to get in to the home, to having space to move around freely and a client no longer ashamed of how they were living. That filled my heart with absolute joy.

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

For me it gives me the most job satisfaction when a client hoards but is ready to let go and start their journey of decluttering.  I love leaving a client in a home full of hope, and all organised – the same home I walked into, but seen by the client in a whole different light by the time I leave. It’s wonderful to see clients no longer ashamed, and they have hope back that their home and life can be different to how it has always been in the past.  They realise that the home they dreamed of can actually happen, they just needed the right support and strategies.

If Heather’s interview has inspired you to pursue a career as a professional organiser,you can find out more about the benefits of joining APDO here..
Or if you’d like some help to get organised at home you can find your nearest organiser here.

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for our second interview with an APDO professional organiser!

APDO National Organising Week 2018

apdo blog family organising decluttering

How do I get my family to declutter?

As professional organisers, one of the questions that we are most frequently asked is: “How do I get my spouse/children/housemate on-board with decluttering?” In this post, professional organiser and coach Hannah Ashwell-Dickinson of Declutter With Hannah gives us some guidance, and shares what has worked well with her own family.

“How do I get my family on board with decluttering?”

You may have ‘seen the light’ yourself and be reaping the rewards of living with less stuff – more space, more time, improved mental clarity and feeling freer. But it can be challenging when others in your household either can’t let go of their clutter, or simply just don’t feel your enthusiasm. Some people aren’t adversely affected by mess and clutter. But if you are, and it impacts negatively on your well-being, this can lead to tension in the household. So, what can you do?

Set an example

Firstly, you can lead by example by continuing to let go of your own belongings and enjoying the benefits.  You need to “walk the walk” yourself before expecting others to make big lifestyle changes. Have a think about why you find clutter overwhelming and try to communicate that to the other people in your home. Start requesting experiences or consumables as gifts instead of “stuff” so that less is coming into your home and you show that you are serious about wanting to live with less.

apdo blog - getting family on board with decluttering - basket

Create zones

Allocate zones in the house that are clutter-free (for example, your side of the bedroom, a select number of shelves, the kitchen table) and ask people to respect that these areas should not be piled high with stuff.

Implement systems

Start to implement some systems in the house for where things should go. Have a place where keys belong, where the post goes, where bags and coats should be hung up, etc. This encourages other household members to put things away and keep communal areas tidy. Set up an easy-to-use filing system so that paperwork doesn’t pile up. And try to comment when positive changes occur – how much better you feel and how great the house looks – so that your family start to recognise that the whole house is benefitting from being more organised.

Set goals

If your family is willing – sit down and set some goals around what you would all gain by having less stuff. If you all agree to stop buying as much, you can put saved money towards a family holiday or a summer ice-cream fund. Or if you declutter the spare room you will gain extra play space or a home office. Encourage your partner or housemates to sell some things to make extra money to put towards your goal.

Start giving

Encourage family members to gather up unused toiletries and donate to food banks and refugee centres. Children are often motivated to declutter if they know their toys are going to families in need. Children also respond well to making decluttering a game. You could create a treasure hunt for the whole family to take part in where you collect broken toys, unused clothes and unwanted gifts. Whoever wins can choose an activity for you all to take part in – a family bike ride or baking a cake together.

apdo blog - getting family on board with decluttering

Set some rules

Finally, set some family rules together like “one in, one out” so that when members of the household buy something new, they must let go of something else. Or ask people to use the “one minute rule” – if something can be put away or dealt with in under one minute then do it so that jobs don’t build up.

Remember, learning to live with less and changing habits can be a slow process and it can be an even slower process changing other people’s habits. But don’t let that put your off. Slow and steady wins the race.

If you and your family would like to get some help with your decluttering, you can find your local professional organiser here.

drowning in paperwork organising paper decluttering desk

Drowning in paper: How to organise your paperwork

Does paperwork have a habit of piling up around your home or workplace? Liz Gresson, professional organiser and owner of Hampshire-based organising business www.allorganisedforyou.co.uk has been there too. In this post she shares her thoughts about paperwork – why it piles up, how it makes us feel, and what we can do about it.

Drowning in paper!

I hate paper!  I don’t mean books or magazines, although I make sure newspapers and magazines are recycled straight after reading and not allowed to pile up.

For years I worked in solicitors’ offices which don’t seem to have changed much since the days of Charles Dickens, with stacks of bulging files piled up on shelves and on the floor round the desks.  Every morning my boss would put fresh letters and documents which had arrived in the post or been printed off from email on to my desk.  We went through reams of paper in the printer every week, often duplicating documents, in my view unnecessarily.  Some days I felt as if I couldn’t breathe for all the paper around me.

Many people work in offices like these and don’t want to come home to a house which resembles them in terms of piles of paper everywhere.  Working from home is a great option, but there is the ever-present danger of paper building up.

drowning in paperwork organising decluttering paper desk2

Freedom from paper

Now that I’m a professional organiser, my mission is to provide freedom from the paper that seems to come into our houses faster than we can deal with it: leaflets advertising all sorts of things from pizzas to conservatory blinds, letters from the bank, charity requests, renewal reminders from insurance companies and many others. We print off emails and attachments, planning to read them at our leisure.  It doesn’t take long for a stack of assorted paperwork to pile up.

I use a number of strategies to organise and minimise paper in our home as well as effective storage solutions. I have methods for dealing with paperwork in ways which reduce stress and increase efficiency.

drowning in paperwork organising declluttering paper magazines

Liz’s Top Tips

My top tips are:

  • Keep all paperwork in one place.
  • Go through it once a week, recycling or shredding what you don’t need and dealing immediately with anything which needs to be actioned.
  • Always select the paperless option with your bank, utility company, pension provider, insurer, etc. An added benefit here is that this can result in lower bills.
  • Scan important documents e.g. insurance policy schedules and shred the paper copy.
  • Sign up to the Mail Preference Service (mpsonline.org.uk) to filter out junk mail.

One client, an editor, told me he felt that I’d edited his life when I dealt with his paperwork and I think it’s an appropriate analogy.  Editing means cutting out what you don’t need and tidying up the rest.

I don’t believe we can become totally paper-free, but we can drastically reduce what we have and manage effectively the paper we do need to keep.

I offer to my clients help in reducing the amount of stuff they have, making their lives run more smoothly.  Tackling the tide of paper achieves both of those things.

If you need some help to start organising your paperwork, you can find your local professional organiser here.