Tag Archives: virtual organising

a client looking at phone during virtual organising session

Virtual organising sessions are a great motivator

Almost a year ago, professional organiser Lynda Wylie‘s diary was wiped clean as every decluttering session she had booked in for her business Tidy Rooms was postponed. She wasn’t the only one. For the first time ever, the UK entered a national lock down. Overnight business owners were forced to think creatively about how to operate in a world that had closed its doors. Enter virtual organising!

In this post, Lynda explains the benefits of virtual organising, and how they can be a great motivator to get decluttered and organised.

Adapting to a new reality

As we wrestled with the impact of the COVID pandemic, we looked for ways to stay connected with our friends, family and work colleagues. Zoom became our constant companion and suddenly there was a new way to work and live.

The decluttering and organising industry was no exception. Pre COVID, I worked alongside my clients in their homes. Mid COVID, I had to find another way of safely supporting my clients and still contributing to the family finances. Thankfully, many of my APDO colleagues were already ahead of the game and working successfully online. In fact, it’s thanks to a training course run by a foresighted and resourceful colleague that I gained the confidence to dip my toe into the virtual waters of online decluttering.

I struggled at first to imagine how a virtual session would work. I’m used to providing practical, hands on support in my clients’ homes. I love nothing more than being in the thick of sorting and organising alongside my client, usually crawling around on my hands and knees, or in the back of a cupboard or at the bottom of a bag! Peering at a screen didn’t seem to offer the same level of personal or practical service I had become used to, but the last year has proved me wrong!

It was a huge surprise to discover that remote sessions were a massive hit with my clients – and with me! Together we discovered that these were a convenient, accessible, productive, personal and fun way of getting things done. Clients who’ve taken the plunge have been impressed at what can be achieved from behind a camera, and they’ve come back for more. We’ve tackled kitchen cupboards, craft rooms, photo organising, routine planning, bedroom drawers and paperwork backlogs.

a phone held up in front of a shelf in a virtual organising session

Virtual organising and motivation

So, what makes remote working a viable option for decluttering and organising your home? Here are three reasons I’ve found it to be a great motivator during a pandemic:

1 Home visits are no longer essential

There’s no need to worry about spreading germs, wearing masks or social distancing. Simply connect to a FaceTime call, set your camera so your Professional Organiser can communicate effectively with you and you’re away! This can relieve any anxiety you might be feeling about having someone in your home and it can allow you and your Professional Organiser to focus on the job in hand without fear or distraction.

2 Location is irrelevant

Your Professional Organiser could live 100 miles away or even in another country. This gives you more choice about who you work with as you can choose from the whole decluttering profession rather than being limited to who’s on your doorstep. Concerns about travel costs, journey time and special parking arrangements are completely removed for all parties. This can make it a more cost, time and effort effective option for you both.

3 You can declutter with or without a professional present

Remote sessions are very flexible.

For example, once you’ve spent time talking together to decide on a goal, the steps needed to achieve it and any possible challenges, you can then agree a time for a return time. You then declutter off camera until the call is resumed at the agreed time.

This approach allows you to focus on one clearly defined task at a time, knowing that you will have a review with your Professional Organiser go over what you’ve done. The check-in slot provides a thinking space in which to reflect on how the decluttering went. You might wish to repeat the exercise until you come to the end of the booking. If you are nervous about revealing the extent of your clutter, this can be a great way to ease yourself gently into the decluttering process. It also allows you time to develop a relationship with your Professional Organiser before tackling further challenges and it increases your confidence.

a client at a laptop during a virtual organising session

Sessions in which you and your Professional Organiser remain on the call together also work really well, just like an in-home session when you work alongside each other to reach the desired goal.

With this approach, you may find that sometimes what you’re doing can’t be seen, so you have to describe what you’re doing. Your Professional Organiser may ask you questions so they can understand what’s happening and how you’re finding things. You might encounter a bit more silence than during a home visit, but this can be really helpful for focusing and processing what you’re experiencing.

Give virtual organising a try!

Finding positive outcomes in a pandemic may not have been your experience or expectation during COVID 19, but I can say with absolute certainty that virtual decluttering sessions have been a most surprising and joyful result of this difficult time. As you can probably tell, I’m now a total convert and I hope you might also step out and give this special type of decluttering session a try.

If you’d like to find someone to declutter with you remotely, take a look at APDO’s Find an Organiser database. You can search under each organiser’s specialisms to find those offering virtual organising services.

an overhead photo of a woman typing at her laptop

Virtual organising: What is it, and how does it work?

Since the start of the pandemic, virtual organising has become more and more popular and many of our APDO members are working with their clients in this way. But what is “virtual organising” exactly, and how does it work? In this National Organising Week post, five APDO professional organisers tell us about their virtual work with their clients.

Karen Eyre-White of Go Do

I help busy, overwhelmed people get back in control of their time and learn new habits to stay productive, both in their work and personal lives. At the moment I’m working with a lot of people who are working from home due to COVID-19 and struggling to focus and stay productive. We look at what’s stopping them from getting things done and put in place new routines, structures and techniques which help them to get the most out of their time. This can be a lifesaver, especially for those in busy, demanding jobs, perhaps with a team working for them and often an extremely high workload.

I work entirely virtually (via Zoom), and this works really well for productivity coaching. The client generally joins meetings from their normal workplace, at home or in the office, and they can share their screen when we discuss their inbox, diary, or other documents. We might also work together on screen to create a new daily or weekly schedule, or to brainstorm work objectives or priorities. The client will then go away to try out their new habits, and we’ll discuss how they got on at the next session, providing both support and accountability.

I love working virtually because it means I can work with clients across the UK (and the world!) and can be flexible with sessions depending on what the client needs.

 

Tilo Flache of ClutterMeister

These days it is challenging to meet clients at their homes, and I have shifted a good portion of my business to virtual organising. In the process I have found that there are great advantages to using the virtual method.

For one thing, I don’t consider decluttering and organising a client’s home ‘just an emergency measure’, but a necessary learning experience. My involvement with the client is no longer hands-on, and that makes any physical activity a little more time consuming – after all, there is one less pair of hands around to get things done! With virtual organising, the client is required to do all the work themselves, which allows us to use the tactile memory to reinforce the process and ingrain it in their body memory. This makes it much easier to remember and repeat the steps I guide them through in our sessions.

The fact that I can only ever see either the work site or my client’s face can make the work a little more challenging: part of my job is to keep my clients safe, both physically and mentally. Keeping an eye out for unusual reactions often requires a lot of creative camera work to stay connected with my client. The switch between work and face allows for bursts of productive work, followed by a short break with a different, more relaxed focus, before returning to the job at hand. On the plus side, separating the practical activities from the mental and emotional work can be a game-changer, especially if the client tends to be unfocused and easily distracted.

I firmly believe that there are a good number of typical organising projects that actually work better virtually than they do with in-person assistance. If the job does not require a second person to be in the space, or the client is worried about the state of their home and wants to show me only the space they are working on right now, virtual assistance can work wonders.

Tilo Flache's desk

Kate Galbally of Better Organised

I recently worked with a client who approached me about improving her time management and her productivity. She has a management role within the NHS with a very heavy workload and rapidly shifting priorities. Over the course of a few sessions, we explored how she can manage her priorities, minimise procrastination and avoid overwhelm. I introduced her to some tools and techniques that are simple to implement and easy to maintain. We also worked together on decluttering and organising her emails and her diary, so that both are manageable and work more effectively for her.

At our last session, she said that working together has definitely made a difference to how she manages her time, that her emails are the most manageable that they have been in a long time and that she feels confident in the way she has planned out her time going forward. This has reduced procrastination and meant that she is able to focus better on deep work and not have to bring work home with her.

 

Lisa Pantling of Clutter Free Living

Before the pandemic, I hadn’t particularly considered working online even though many people do so,  but I gave the option of working virtually to a new client whom I was going to visit at home, but had to cancel due to COVID-19. They were actually delighted with the possibility of still being able to address their difficulties with their ‘stuff’ and felt physically able to execute the actual decluttering and organising themselves.

My client had a recent diagnosis of Asperger’s and this had explained for them the reason why they struggled with sensory overload, and often felt ‘frozen’ in terms of working through some processes and seeing projects through to fruition. It also explained their feelings of being overwhelmed by all the decisions and options available.

The next step for the client was to understand how they could manage their needs and put some systems in place that they can maintain going forward.

We talked through their priorities and where they felt ‘stuck’. Then we cracked on by just grabbing a pile of items piled on a dining chair. It was a total mixture of items:  bills, greetings cards, work documents, old receipts, leaflets, junk mail.

We addressed each category in turn, making decisions about how to deal with them in the moment and moving forward. The client took notes, including on any future actions they were going to take. Part of the success of this method involves agreeing ‘rules’ about how to deal with certain items, for example,  greetings cards. I generally ask questions such as what value does the card hold: is it a beautiful image, was it from a special person, does it hold a special message or memory? The client felt that most of the cards they had held on to did not feel important and that they did not want or need to keep them so many could be discarded. We continued with this method and the client was able to carry out lots of work independently in between our sessions as they now had a way to rationalise their decision making.

a hand using a laptop - keyboard

Sian Winslade of Inspired Living Cheshire

The idea of being in my client’s home virtually, sitting on the side dresser on her device with me in Manchester, UK, and my client is in Memphis, Tennessee, is somewhat strange, but also brilliant.

I have spent several hours virtually sorting through my client’s belongings. I’ve guided her through the steps needed to make her closet space somewhere she loves going into, not a place where she feels uncomfortable.

Sorting through over 20+ years of clothing can be painful. Asking ourselves the questions of why we keep the clothes we do is often difficult. Are we clinging onto the memories of when we wore them last, or mourning the fact we no longer fit into dresses and jackets two sizes too small? Whatever the reasons, if dealt with in an understanding way, 4241 miles apart as the crow flies made no difference at all: the job got done.

We laughed, we shed the odd tear, we were productive, often silly. The end result, virtually or in person, was the same. We spoke the same language literally and figuratively. Although more physically challenging for her than me, the end result was an uncluttered organised space. A full 50% of the clothes were donated, as well as a multitude of belts, scarves, and accessories.

During all the hours I spent guiding and supporting my client, she continually said,

“It’s like you are here with me”.

And, ultimately, that was all that mattered.

If you are interested in finding out more about virtual organising, you can find our members who offer this service in our Find an Organiser directory.