Interview with an Organizer: Liana George
March 8, 2017
Liana George, of By George Organizing, is our latest interviewee. Liana is professional organizer working out of Texas.
LH: Can you tell me a little bit about your history? What was your path into professional organizing and how long have you been doing it?
LG:I started working as a professional organizer in May of 2013. I had been a stay-at-home mom for almost 18 years and since my children were getting older and leaving home I decided that it was time to start a new adventure of my own. Having a passion for organizing, I thought that owning my own organizing business would be a great way to help others and use my skills.
LH: Do you offer one-on-one services, virtual services, or both?
LG:I just offer one-on-one services. I did offer virtual services at one point but didn’t have much success with it.
LH: Do you do business and personal/individual organizing?
LG:Mainly I just do personal/individual organizing. However, many of my clients have been small business owners who work from home and needed help with their homes offices, so in some ways I guess you could say that I’ve worked in the business organizing arena!
LH: What challenges do you face when working with individuals?
LG:While there are always challenges when working with others, I think getting people to let go of their stuff is probably the most difficult one I face. It’s hard for them to understand that they can’t organize clutter, but rather that they have to remove it in order to have the orderly space they desire.
LH: Do you ever have people relapse into former bad habits or “fall off the wagon?” If so, how do you deal with them?
LG:Sure! It can be hard learning to get organized and stay organized if it’s not something you are used to. When that happens I always encourage people to understand that just because they “fell off the wagon” doesn’t mean they can’t be organized. Instead I try to figure out what worked well for them and what didn’t and determine the best way to tweak the systems/habits so they can be more successful moving forward.
LH: Can you tell me a bit about your most challenging client and how you were able to help him/her?
LG:My most challenging client was a young wife and mother of three boys. She was also a small business owner and struggling to juggle the two parts of her life. Although she was super sweet to work with, her reluctance to let go of stuff for financial and emotional reasons made it difficult to work with her. She had so much stuff we couldn’t even walk into most of the rooms of her house. We worked together almost every week for a year and didn’t even make a dent in most of her house. Unfortunately we stopped working together before we finished everything. I always felt bad I couldn’t do more for her.
LH: Is there hope for hoarders? Have you worked with any?
LG:I think with the right help and encouragement it is possible for hoarders to overcome their issues. Personally I haven’t worked with any and don’t see them as my ideal clients.
LH: What are some other ways in which people benefit from your services?
LG:I like to think that I offer more than just the how-tos of getting organized, but help people understand the whys behind their desire to bring order to their lives. I want people to walk away with a confidence, belief and ability to bring and maintain order in their lives long after our time together is done.
LH: How do you feel about children and organizing?
LG:I think one of the greatest gifts we can give to children is the gift of organizing. That is, teaching them and exemplifying to them from an early age the benefits and steps of organized living. While many adults don’t believe that structure is a good thing for kids, they actually function better in an orderly environment. If we can help them develop the skill of organizing early, it will be something they will carry with them all their lives.
LH: A lot of people find the time constraints of modern life at odds with their ability to organize. Do you have suggestions for people who are short on time?
LG:Yes! First people need to understand that they will never find time to get organized. If someone wants to get organized, they need to make it a priority for their life and make the time for it. Scheduling time, cutting back on or cutting out other activities, and starting with small pockets of time can often make the difference in making getting organized a reality in their lives. Of course, the elementary teacher in me is a little biased!
LH: Are you an organized person by nature, or did you come into organizing through a life challenge?
LG:I am an organized person by nature. I do admire those who came into organizing through a life challenge because I believe they are proof that everyone can be organized.
LH: What would you suggest to the organizationally-challenged person as a first step towards getting their house/life/everything in order?
LG:While I know many people want to start decluttering and organizing right away, I encourage people to not do those steps first. It’s important that those who want to bring order into their homes and lives first start with their bigger why (their main reasons for wanting order) and have a visual of what they want their spaces and life to look like when they are done. When things get hard in the organizing process (and it will!) and they feel like quitting or giving up, their why and their picture can be the motivation that keeps them going. Once they are clear on their why and their visual, then I would tell them to start with one small space that they can work on for 15 minutes a day so they don’t get overwhelmed.
LH:How do you market your services and what or who do you see as competition?
LG:My main marketing tool is my website. But in addition to that I write a weekly blog, create videos, share on social media, speak to groups, offer classes, and network. I find that these activities allow me to offer value to people and provide them with the opportunity to know me better and determine if they want to work with me.
I don’t worry much about competition. I think there is enough room at the table for all of us! Plus I think some organizers are better fits for some clients than others, so if I’m not able to connect with a client I’ll happily recommend someone else that can better serve them.
LH:Do you do inbound and outbound marketing?
LG:When I first started my business I focused mainly on outbound marketing. But being the introvert that I am, I had a difficult time with that. I feel more comfortable with inbound marketing and prefer to focus my attention there.
LH: How long, once you established your business did it take before it became profitable?
LG:I would say the first 2 years were pretty lean (it seemed like more money was going out than coming in), but after that my business became profitable.
LH: Do you use online analytics tools?
LG:Sure, I use Google Analytics as well as social media analytics to see who is looking at my offerings. It allows me to understand who I’m reaching and how I can better serve them.
LH: Are you active in professional organizing groups and do you organize any local demonstrations or workshops (for individuals or businesses)?
LG:Yes, I belong to NAPO National and am active in my local NAPO Chapter in Houston. I have presented several workshops for a variety of groups, as well as free workshops in my area for anyone interested.
LH: Do you have any tips or advice for people interested in doing professional organizing?
LG:While I encourage anyone who wants to start an organizing business to go for it, I would remind them that as much fun as the organizing part is or can be, there is also the business part that they have to deal with. If you’ve never been your own boss that can be very challenging and you have to be good at time management, setting boundaries, and marketing yourself and your business. If you can learn to balance the 2 then I think you’ll find great satisfaction and success!
LH: Thank you much for sharing your work with us.
Liana George is a Professional Organizer and the owner of By George Organizing Solutions. In her 3 1/2 years of working with clients she has helped hundreds of people bring order to their homes and lives with customized solutions, whether it be in their kitchen, their garage or their clothes closets.
In addition to working with clients, Liana also writes organizing blog posts, books and articles, teaches organizing classes and webinars, and speaks to numerous groups on a variety of organizing topics. She knows that not everyone may be as passionate about organizing as she is, but she does believe that everyone can be organized.
She has been married to her husband, Clint, for over 25 years and together they have 2 wonderful daughters, Kayley and Abbey. When Liana isn’t organizing something, you can find her reading a book, watching or playing tennis, or planning her next diving adventure. Be sure to check out her website (By George Organizing) and read her article on time management, here on the Organize-It Blog.
The Road to Clutter is Paved with Good Intentions
March 2, 2017
Clutter is a sneaky, quiet invader of our homes. It slowly amasses in out-of-the-way spots – such as closets, basements, attics, garages, or spare rooms. After a while, it may also spill over into our living spaces. Do you ever look around your home, and ask yourself, “Where did all this clutter come from and how did it accumulate so much?” There are numerous reasons of course, although most clutter usually falls into one of the categories below.
First, there is “inherited clutter” – stuff that gets passed down to us from family and friends.
Next there is “sentimental clutter” – anything special that we’ve saved throughout the years. Memorabilia relating to our past, our children, or to loved ones that have passed away. These items are usually the most difficult to deal with.
Thirdly, we have “someday clutter” – these are generally items we’ve acquired with the best of intentions. For example, exercise equipment we’ve purchased but rarely, or never use. Fancy kitchen gadgets that sounded appealing but were too cumbersome to use or clean. Craft projects, games and electronic devices. Even broken items we meant to fix years ago. And, of course, there are all of the items that we kept, because “we may need them some day.”
We all have good intentions when we save, or purchase items. Most often though, our lives get busy, priorities change, and things sit unused. Whenever we occasionally come across those items, they nag at us, and even evoke guilt.
If any of this is striking a chord with you, take action. Make a decision to cut down on the clutter and gradually purge each box, closet or storage space. Ask yourself these questions: Do I really need it? Do I use it? Do I love it? Be realistic about what you are keeping. If you haven’t gotten around to using it in the past year or two, chances are, you won’t be using it in the years to come. Just think of the space you will gain when you lose all the excess clutter. Room to breathe!
What’s more, starting from this day on, let’s all be a little more selective about what we are purchasing and saving.
Thoughts, comments, questions?
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle
Yve Irish is a professional organizer and blogger, living in Rochester New York. She has written for numerous organizing publications and has her own website, where you’ll find lots of great information and inspiration. Also, check out her interview right here on the Organize-It Blog.
Make Time for Organizing
February 17, 2017
How To Make Time for Organizing in Three Easy Steps
If you’re like most people, you’re struggling to find enough time to organize.
I may not know your personal situation, but I can guess that:
- You have a lot on your plate – so much that it overwhelms you.
- Organizing usually gets pushed to the bottom of your to-do list.
- When you do have some time to organize, you never seem to get far.
I understand. I really do.
My struggle is not necessarily finding the time to organize, but finding the time to write all the blog posts and articles I want to. Honestly, I’m not that different from you when it comes to time-related challenges. But In my quest to “find time” to write, I’ve learned something: You’ll never find the time to do what you really want to do. Never. So if you want to accomplish something, like getting organized, you have to make the time.
Of course, if making time were easy then we’d all be doing exactly what we want, wouldn’t we?
So rather than tell you how to find time, I want to share how to turn things around and make the time, in three straightforward steps:
1. Do an honest audit of your week by keeping a time log. Before you can make time in your life for anything, you have to know how you’re spending your time.
For one week (or longer) track exactly how you’re spending your time. You could use a spreadsheet, a piece of paper, or an app (check out this list of the 20 best time-tracking apps).
Once the week is finished, review your log and ask these questions about each task:
- Was this necessary?
- Did it have to take so long?
You might be surprised by the answers to these questions. Most likely the activities you recorded weren’t necessary and probably shouldn’t have taken so long; meaning, you could probably eliminate or shorten them and fill the time with another activity (like organizing!)
While it may be a painful task, logging how you are spending your time is essential if you want to make time for the things that matter. Jeff Goins puts it like this, “Time is like money. If you don’t track it, you run out.”
2. Cut out or cut back. While it may seem that all your activities are important and necessary, the reality is that at least some of your activities could be cut out or cut back.
Of course, this is a personal decision and what may be important and necessary to you may not be for me, and vice versa. It would be impossible for me to say what you should cut out or cut back on.
However, here a just a few ideas you might want to consider.
- Any commitments you don’t really enjoy or wish you hadn’t signed up for. Don’t keep doing something because “if you don’t do it, on one else will” or you feel guilty if you don’t help out. Don’t waste time on activities that don’t satisfy or aren’t really meant for you to do.
- Time-wasting activities that don’t add to your life. Again, what those activities are looks different for each person, but if a task really isn’t adding value to your life, why keep doing it?
Cut back on…
- TV watching. While I’m not suggesting a complete TV blackout, perhaps cutting back just a small amount of time (30 minutes) will allow you to do other things.
- Anything you might be able to delegate out. Whether that’s asking family members to help or outsourcing an activity (like housecleaning or lawn services), letting others help with some of your activities can free you up so you can focus on other things.
3. Schedule it. The truth is, if you want to make time for something, you have to schedule it.
Why? Because what gets scheduled gets done.
So rather than letting your calendar control you, take control of your calendar and schedule time for organizing. Even if it’s only 10 minutes, mark it in your calendar and honor that commitment.
Once you have an idea of how you’re spending your time and how you can cut out or cut back on certain activities, don’t just stop there. Take the next step and schedule time on your calendar for organizing.
I know this isn’t easy an easy process. Trust me, I speak (or write) from personal experience.
I recently made the decision to drastically change my schedule so that I could make more time for writing. It has been hard to change things around and honor the boundaries I’ve placed upon myself, but in doing so I’ve been happier and more productive.
The same can be true for you. Stop looking for the time to get organized and start making it instead. And when you do, you’ll find what you’ve really been looking for all along.
Could these steps help you make the time for organizing? Are you willing to give them a try? Leave a comment and let me know!
Written by Liana George, professional organizer and blogger at the popular By George Organizing site, which has lots of tips, videos and even decluttering challenges to get you excited about organizing. She also provides professional organizing services in the Houston area.