I’m a member of a couple of decluttering groups on social media. This gives me an insight into the issues people have with their homes, so my knowledge and understanding is constantly being broadened. Plus, it’s always nice to share my expertise with others who are on their organisational journeys.
A couple of months ago in one of those groups the question of paying for a Professional Organiser came up. Opinions were pretty split – some members of the group could see the benefit of engaging the services of one, but others didn’t think it was a good use of money at all. Things got quite heated in the end (I sat this one out, I’m not so great at Arguing On The Internet), and after the admins stepped in, peaceful tidying talk was resumed.
I was reminded of this recently when someone I met at Malta Creative Collective’s recent social event asked that question – ‘so what do you do?’ (Actually they said ‘are you a graphic designer as well?’ and after calculating the sum total of my computing expertise I laughed and replied that it was for everyone’s benefit that I wasn’t). We spent the next ten minutes or so chatting about my work. When there came a natural pause in the conversation he said ‘I can really see the value in what you do – but can’t people just do what you do themselves, without your help?’. It’s a common question so I thought I’d address it in my preferred way – with a list.
- ‘Wow, I’d really love to have that sort of help, but I can’t afford that’, AKA Value for money.
So many prospective clients have said this to me. The cost of one session might seem like a lot for those 5 or 6 hours. But actually, the benefits don’t stop when I get in my car and go home. Current and previous clients report feeling less anxious (both about their home and life in general), improved sleep, a sense of having more time in their lives, and an all-around increase in well-being from being able to spend time on leisure activities, or with family. One client said ‘I’ve been getting up and looking in my wardrobe for 65 years, and in all of that time it’s only now that I’m actually excited by my clothes, and by getting dressed’. Fabulous.
- ‘I really like this method but my wardrobe is the only tidy bit, so I’ll start with my pans’, AKA Getting it right.
Some of my clients have read one or all of Marie Kondo’s books and may have started their decluttering journey by themselves. They call me if they are feeling uncertain in what they’re doing, or don’t feel confident in their own decision making. Having an ‘expert’ there who has already completed the KonMari method and helped others means that any questions or areas of uncertainty can be easily dealt with. I often see people saying things like ‘I really like Marie Kondo’s method but I don’t want to mess up my wardrobe, so I won’t get everything out’. These people are less likely to succeed because they haven’t quite ‘got’ the rationale for actually emptying all clothes into one huge pile.
- ‘I’ll start my next category when I have a day off work’, AKA Motivation.
It’s so easy to let other things take over. ‘I’ll start my next category when I have a day off work’ turns into ‘I need to get the car serviced – maybe next weekend’ and then ‘I’m just really tired – I’ll start decluttering next week when the children are back at school’. Having an unbiased and totally separate helper to ‘answer to’ makes you more likely to stick at it instead of letting other things take over.
- ‘Ohhh, look what I was wearing in that picture!’ AKA Efficiency.
Who hasn’t started clearing out a cupboard and then become sidetracked by looking at photos, listening to their long-forgotten mix-tape collection and even calling friends to reminisce? Then of course when the evening draws in and other responsibilities such as cooking dinner or childcare come knocking, cupboard contents are hastily shoved back and a miscellaneous pile is heaped into a spare bowl, which is then forever to be home to that single screw, piece of thread, unknown key, half bottle of unlabelled medication, a letter that needs to be dealt with and flyer for a takeaway (check your ‘miscellaneous spot’ – how many of your items did I guess?).
The benefit of using a tidying consultant is that you’re kept on track. Any movement towards ‘ohhh, look what I was wearing!’ is met by a friendly but firm ‘let’s look at those properly when we cover your sentimental items – now, what were we saying about this insurance policy that expired in 2001?’. As a result, a process that might take you 10 hours per category on your own (see here for more details on categories) will take you 4 or 5 with me.
- ‘But my mum made this for me so I should keep it’, AKA Knowing and respecting your style.
When I’m talking with my clients during our sessions I pick up on patterns in what they’re choosing to discard, or what they’re finding it hard to let go of.
A particular client might find herself saying ‘but my mum made this for me so I should keep it’ for every seventh item she picks up. Or another might have a lot of tartan scarves, skirts and accessories but easily chooses to discard them. Working with a tidying consultant means you’ve got another pair of eyes, and again, the fact that I’m not a part of your social group or family is a real bonus. If I pick up on a pattern I’ll say ‘do you notice that you’re finding it quite hard to discard handmade items?’ or ‘did you see that you had 8 tartan garments but you’ve discarded all of them very easily?’.
I do this because when dealing with large quantities of items, clients often don’t pick up on these patterns. But when they’re made aware of them, it influences future purchases and focuses their shopping trips. One client had an excellent selection of polo necks that never got worn as ‘they just make me look a bit round’. Since decluttering her wardrobe and reorganising the contents she hasn’t bought a single polo neck and instead goes for the style that she knows suits her shape (a nice V neck if you’re wondering).
Having the confidence to shop alone is invaluable. After completing their tidying journey, clients find that they shop much more purposefully, much less often, and with much more satisfaction.
- I’m always being asked what exactly my job involves and why its needed.
- It helps people to do their decluttering and organising more quickly, more efficiently, with greater focus and motivation, and my insights help them to hone their personal tastes.
- I ensure the job gets done. Properly.
- Aint that worth paying for?!