Two professional organizers carrying a table

Last year I helped my client navigate signing up for Medicare. A few weeks ago, I hunted for documents to support a tax deduction. Most people don’t know the incredible SCOPE of things that professional organizers actually do for people. In this blog, I’m pulling back the curtain on the fascinating work of professional organizers…

Now, before I share our stories, let me clarify that I have built Restoring Order as a “life reclamation” company. We exist to help people reclaim their lives, not simply to help them organize. It’s our passion to help the world get back to what-matters-most, instead of being enslaved to their stuff.

Life-Reclaimist-Video-Course-Series

With that aim, we roll up our sleeves and link arms with our clients, helping them organize, rearrange, beautify, respond, research, dive in, wrap up, plan ahead, prepare, recover, execute, and so much more. We are the capable hands that tackle difficult or delayed projects, bringing relief and freedom. Truly, we are Order Restorers, not simply “organizers.”

I have always loved to organize and it has been key individuals who have drawn out my gift. Key influencers in my life gave me a platform to organize, and it was MY CLIENTS who taught me the nature of TRUE ORGANIZING.

Granny Got Me Started

My Granny used to let me organize her dresser drawers; I delighted in arranging her pretty perfume bottles on the top of the dresser. I also organized the contents of her purse, discovering her nail kit, and old-fashioned plastic rain bonnets tucked into tiny packets.

My parents indulged my passion as well, and I would unload the kitchen cabinets and junk drawers and reset them from time to time. If something in our home needed organizing, I was the first to see it and the girl-Friday to tackle it.

When my friends came over to play, I would enlist them in overhauling my bedroom or hall closet. They may have expected a sleepover and movies, but I gave them WORK! I guess I was born to lead a team of Order Restorers!

My Clients Taught Me True Organizing

Since projects were in my DNA, when I started Restoring Order in 1999, I assumed I would be doing organizing PROJECTS. Naturally, I concluded that I would be organizing spaces for my clients and improving the usability and look of their homes and workplaces.

Portland Professional Organizing Services - Kitchen

And then, I had my first appointment and got my pretty-little-expectations handed to me in a sword fight.

I found myself in the middle of heated negotiations between husband and wife standing the middle of their garage. She wanted it organized. He resented her intrusion. Neither had a plan. I was watching a destructive ping-pong power struggle.

I had a choice to shrink back and try to stay out of their way or take charge.

The Job of a Professional Organizer

On that day, skills tucked way-down-deep in me leaped to the surface and I stepped into my God-given role of Order Restorer. In that cold and cluttered garage, I became a referee, an armchair therapist, and hostage negotiator.

Their stuff, their functionality, and marital harmony was held hostage to their beliefs about each other, their frustration, and their power struggle stand-still. I was there to break through the garbage, align them in a common cause, and take care of business.

After several delicate (and sometimes explosive) appointments, we had tackled their garage. Both his and her needs had been met, they could park in the formerly packed space, and I had grown thicker skin and a stronger spine and extended lots of grace. (And I think they liked me because I was invited to tackle their kitchen and office next and the yelling stopped.)

I discovered in that garage that EVERYONE needs help sometimes, and it’s NOT ABOUT THE STUFF.

A good professional organizer’s job is to help people make room for their priorities and break through to the life they really want.

If there are multiple users of a space, good organizing involves capturing a vision for how the space can SERVE YOU, instead of struggling to make it work as-is.

Dowload Free Resource Road Map to Priority-Based Living

Then, the PROCESS of working together to manifest the vision– if mutual honor is established – helps you work out the kinks, meet everyone’s needs, and produce an outcome that facilitates life and harmony.

Along the journey, I’ve learned that organizing doesn’t just involve navigating personal priorities and interpersonal conflict; it also requires the everyday management of life.

Life Management

Professional organizers can help with outfit coordination

Our stuff tells a story. Our homes and workplaces tell a story. And those stories are of the PEOPLE that inhabit those spaces.

When we organize a closet, for example, we have the privilege of learning about the intimate details of someone’s life. We find out what their work is like – or used to be. We discover their likes, dislikes and personal style (or their confusion about all of it.) We find out how their life-on-the-go functions: is it orderly or drop-and-dash? Their former sizes and styles beg to be let go so they can make peace with NOW.

Clothes Closet Organization Course Banner Ad

When organizing a closet, and doing all this wonderful discovery, it’s only natural for our Order Restorers to help with wardrobing and outfit selection.

Understanding not only what you have, but how to use it, is very empowering. Whether it’s in the closet, or kitchen, or garage, taking the time to LEARN about yourself and your habits and style is of critical importance.

Professional organizers leverage what they learn about a person, weaving those traits and needs into customized systems. Because of this, the systems actually make sense to the user and LAST.

Wardrobing and clothing management is just one example of helping folks with better life management.

Instead of simply “grouping, sorting, and purging,” we are always learning and applying that learning back to the client’s benefit in practical ways. It is through the discovery process, facilitated by an objective, caring professional, breakthrough into self-discovery and freedom can occur! This is reclaiming your life!!

The responsibility of an Order Restorer is to focus LESS on beautifying the space and more on beautifying and freeing the PERSON!

OK, now that you know the tender psychology required to facilitate order, I want to share some cool ways we get to help clients with life management:

  • Everyone these days needs help managing health. Here are some of the ways we help manage health:
    • Walking through a Health Assessment with clients to understand their needs
    • Set up medication and supplement organizing trays
    • Create spreadsheets of medications or doctors or nutrition plans
    • Set up medical binders
    • Create “cheat sheets” for exercise programs or health information
    • Share local resources and health providers
    • Research health issues and providing resources for natural health
Life-Reclaimist-Video-Course-Series-Health
  • Who doesn’t need help with meal planning and grocery shopping? We do this and more:
    • Learn health and nutrition goals
    • Determine the best plan and cadence for grocery shopping and even test drive it!
    • Empty and reset the pantry to match health and organizing objectives
    • Decant dry goods to create visual order and similitude inside the pantry
    • Gut and clean the fridge, reset arrangement and reload to optimize fresh food
    • Create counter-top system for fresh food to encourage whole-food consumption
  • Managing personal belongings, especially collections, can be easier by creating inventories:
    • Entire household inventory
    • Wine
    • Decorations
    • China
    • Art
    • Jewelry
    • Anything you have a lot of!
Professional organizer in wine cellar
  • People are surprised to learn that pro organizers can help with financial management:
    • Organizing financial paperwork
    • Opening and processing mail and queuing bills for payment
    • Creating a bill-paying system, either in paper or online or both
    • Some of our organizers have even done financial data entry for our clients!
    • Contacting vendors and jumping through hoops to establish automatic payments
    • Research on spending habits, understanding categories of expenses and creating a budget
    • Organizing and coding receipts
    • Creating a master spreadsheet of all institutions and finances – this is a critical thing for every family to have!
    • Researching and providing referrals for bookkeepers, CPAs, or other financial professionals
    • Tracking annual donations and logging acknowledgements for tax purposes
    • Organizing paperwork for tax preparers and helping meet deadlines

As you can see, organizing – at its core – is MORE about getting control of your life than it is about STUFF. Therefore, organizing the cadence and flow and systems of life are in fact MORE important than the “before and after” space makeovers.

And because life is FULL, who doesn’t need an extra pair of hands?

Errands and Assistance

Professional organizer running errands in mall

Did you know that hiring an Order Restorer is like having your very own personal assistant?

Granted, an employed personal assistant will tackle those irritating and detailed projects that you don’t want to – or can’t – get to…but who can afford a full or part-time assistant? And, perhaps more importantly, will a low wage errand-bunny be trustworthy, educated, and savvy enough to entrust all your personal affairs?

I have a client who often says “Vicki helps me get my TO-DOs TO-DONE.” I enjoy being the person in her life that she can ask anything of and trust implicitly. I’m a person of integrity and longevity and I’m invested in her life. Hired assistants come and go, but your Order Restorer is an advocate by-your-side who will help you deal with life.

You know, it’s the practical, simple things that people can do for us that sometimes make the biggest difference. Things that seem so small, are bugging us, or we just don’t have time or energy to get to. When someone steps in and SEES the things that need to be done and simply jumps in to do them, it brings incredible relief.

Of course, overhauling the home office or declogging the kitchen brings great relief to people. But often, it’s the things happening in the fabric of our lives causing that backlog, which spills out into our space.

Below are some of the things we do every day to provide practical assistance:

  • Creating reference spreadsheets to assimilate the details of life
  • Unpackaging purchases and putting them away
  • Sorting the mail, or backlogged paperwork and queuing it for ACTION
  • Tossing dead flower arrangements or refreshing decor
  • Event preparation and planning
  • Tidying up and re-setting spaces after events
  • Reviewing paperwork for changes or action required
  • Making phone calls or sending emails to get information
  • Opening and closing accounts
  • Helping let go of a loved one’s belongings after a loss
  • Project managing a remodel
  • Coordinating a move
  • Troubleshooting IT issues as they arise and coordinating help when necessary
  • Clean and reset systems that ARE working to keep them functional

Some of our work includes running errands for clients who either can’t, or don’t want to do them. We often find ourselves:

  • Shopping for supplies for a project, then setting up those systems
  • Returning to stores unneeded items
  • Taking clients to doctor visits if asked; we’ve even hauled them to the E.R. a time or two!
  • Picking up furniture or project materials

As you can see, the work of an Order Restorer is actually very intimate and familial. We do things for folks that they would ask their family to do, if they could.

A trained professional organizer is someone who can help you simplify the complexity of life. We are “Handlers;” we simply “handle” things so you don’t have to!

Seasonal Support

Christmas tree and decor

As if the speed and complexity of life isn’t enough, significant life events and busy seasons call for extra help!

Because we are in people’s homes and workplaces already, we are familiar with their needs and the extra influx of work and duties that comes on with the seasonal crush.

And we don’t want the holidays or other high-pressure seasons to drain you;  the point of having a professional organizer in your life is to relieve pressure.

As the weather turns cold and the schedule heats up with the holiday buzz, our Order Restorers provide holiday help in many practical ways:

  • Prepping and sending greeting cards
    • Setting up the Christmas tree
    • Hauling out and setting decorations, organizing as we go
    • Recording gifts-given and gifts-received for future reference
    • Managing the holiday schedule, invites and activities
    • Planning and executing holiday parties
    • Helping with thank you cards
Professional organizer decorating Christmas tree

Other busy seasons or times that require additional hands-on support seem to be:

  • Tax time, including organizing paperwork, coordinating with accounting professionals, researching issues, and providing supporting documentation
    • Moves or downsizing, including complete project management or just as-needed support
    • Loss of a loved one, including emotional and professional support, helping process and manage financial and legal paperwork, phone calls and details, handling belongings, and even coordinating celebrations
    • Medical crisis, including triaging doctor’s visits and the associated prescriptions and treatment requirements, paperwork, and emotional stability needed

Finally, an organizer helps you SIMPLIFY and thin out overage – all that stuff clogging up your life….

Donations & Disposal

Professional organizer donating clothing

Good organizing should include an evaluative component, not just shuffling and containerizing.

As we macro and micro sort, we should continuously be looking for CLUES as to WHY we are holding onto items and WHETHER we need to do so. Much of what we hold onto in our lives is unnecessary and it’s distracting us from what is truly important.

Remember: there’s a cost-benefit to keeping stuff. The more we have, the more we must store, dust, and insure!

When it becomes obvious that we’ve got too much; our overage needs to GO! Yet, many people simply don’t have a good system, or help, in letting go of stuff. That’s where a professional organizer can help.

Professional organizing team taking donations to Salvation Army

We are experts in offloading overage! Order Restorers help with:

  • Donating items
  • Re-homing items
  • Researching value of items
  • Charitable contributions tracking
  • Selling items
  • Consigning items
  • Arranging junk hauling
  • Coordinating electronics disposal
  • Finding eco-friendly disposal options

On the flip side, sometimes people need support in acquiring items. I love it when our clients ask for our recommendations for their new desk system or the best rec room storage. We love to help with the thoughtful acquisition of the right organizing system, so we:

  • Match the product to the unique needs of the client
  • Research second-hand options if cost-savings or customization is the priority
  • Help buy online and pick up items
  • Coordinate interior designers and closet and storage installers where necessary
  • Research best-fit solutions for the space

You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

Whether you need to dispose of items or find the right system for your needs, professional organizers take the burden off you.

Here’s my heart: I want to END the loneliness and overwhelm that most people experience. Many people feel like they have to navigate life all by themselves, but that’s not the case!

Life is far more bearable, manageable, and enjoyable experienced in community. What’s more: difficult or repetitive jobs are much easier when you’re supported by someone who truly cares.

 How Does It Work?

Now, let’s talk about HOW we work. While everyone can visualize what a landscaper or house cleaner is going to do for them, a lot of people don’t really understand HOW hiring a professional organizer works.

I built Restoring Order on the assumption that good organizing must be customized to the individual. From single rooms to whole houses, from small to large projects, we know that there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. That’s why we customize our approach to each unique client.

  • Some people need to power through a project in a short time, or while off-work, or “before company comes next week.” We call these back-to-back appointments a “Blitz™.”
  • Others – for the sheer volume of projects or budget constraints – need to work at a sure-and-steady pace a little at a time, usually 2-4 times per month. We call that a “Series™.”
  • Others have an epic project, like a packed basement, a move, or disaster relief and they require many hands. When we “staff up” for a project, we call that “Group Therapy™.”
  • We work in several hour blocks, up to full days. We come as often as you like, or as your budget will allow.

I hope this blog has helped you peek behind the curtain of the life of professional organizers and into the heart of what we do. We love a dazzling “before and after” makeover as much as you do, but we know that’s not what life is made up of…it’s the day-to-day steps forward that make the difference.

If you would love someone to link arms with you and take that first step, give us a call. We can help in the Northwest, and we offer virtual or travel services nationwide. We also offer e-courses you can watch whenever you like to reclaim your life.

Here’s to “restoring order” in your life,

Your friend,

Vicki Norris

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