Interview with an Organizer – Debbi Reid

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interview with an organizer - Debbi ReidDebbi Reid is a Maryland organizer who turned a layoff into an opportunity for a new, rewarding career. We’re pleased to have her as a guest in Interview with an Organizer. Read on to learn about her warm, individually-tailored, human approach to organizing and helping people manage their clutter.

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?

DB: When I was a little girl, I kept my very pretty bedroom very messy. One day my father told me if I didn’t keep it clean he would throw everything away. Well, I must not have believed him, because I came in from outside playing one day and there he was, pulling all the mess from my closets and under my bed and putting it in a big green trash bag. Although I was very upset, it turned out to be a new start – partly from fear of having my things thrown away again. I also realized that I enjoyed seeing my belongings in order – everything having a place. I then began organizing the clothes in my closet by type and color, and I found that it made me happy. My mother had a very, let’s say, “busy” walk in closet, and I used to go to it and just stare at it because I wanted to organize it so badly. But I didn’t dare touch it, of course.

Fast forward to around 20 years ago when I was working for a nonprofit in DC. One day I came to work and there was a woman there moving things around in the office supply closet. I asked who she was, and someone said “She’s an Organizer.” At that point I realized that they had actually paid her to come and organize our closet! That day I thought to myself, “I want that job!”

I began to dream of being a Professional Organizer, and when the internet came about, I searched one day and came across NAPO National Association of Professional Organizers. I thought, what?! There’s an association of people like me?! It was then that my dream began to really take shape. Around 2013 I started thinking about what impact I would leave in the world after I’m gone. I was a married mother of 2 with a professional job in event/meeting planning and logistics. I was working in DC, commuting from Maryland, and living a good life. Yet, I still thought there was something more out there for me. When I was downsized from my job in 2015 I thought, it’s now or never. Now is the time to do something that impacts other people’s lives on a larger scale. I began organizing for anyone who would let me (for free), and I found that it brought me indescribable joy! I realized that it truly was changing people’s lives. Those who were overwhelmed, and couldn’t function the way they needed to…from lack of organization, too much clutter, and hanging on to things that were holding them back from success. They were changing, with my help, right before my eyes!

LH: Do you offer one-on-one services, virtual services, or both?

DB: Currently, I offer mostly one-on-one help. I call it “help” because many, if not all of the people I work with just need help. I get the call when they are overwhelmed, don’t know how or where to start, and can’t seem to make organization a priority. My approach is very supportive. I help people change their lives mentally and physically through organization. I act as a coach, providing hands-on guidance and help.

I’m not a licensed professional, but in most cases it’s a counseling session. My talent is organizing but I have found that my gift is in helping people think through their issues and then, together, we can come up with solutions that will work for them. I also enjoy providing workshops and presentations to address the needs of people in a group setting, throughout the DC/DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia) area. The schedules, times, locations, and registration information can be found on my Facebook page.

Interesting you should ask about virtual services, because I’m now exploring the idea of providing online content in video format. That idea is still in the early stages of development, but I would love to provide my brand of hands-on, supportive, organization solutions for individuals and businesses nationwide, and even globally! In the meantime, I do feature organizing tips, wisdom, and motivation on my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. I’ve actually had a wonderful response globally on social media, and I’ve found that the internet is a great way for me to have a positive impact beyond my immediate geographic area.

LH: Do you do business and personal/individual organizing?

DB: I work with individuals in their homes, home offices, or places of business. I offer a number of “Organized Solutions” that change lives for the better! Some key services I provide are those which address effective paper management, optimized storage, cluttered kitchens, closets, garages, and home offices, and perhaps the most dreaded of all – moving, downsizing, packing, and unpacking. While I’m certainly not the only good professional organizer available, my caring, comprehensive, and solution-oriented approach is the quality that I feel makes me unique in the realm of organizing.

LH: Do you ever have people relapse into former bad habits or “fall off the wagon?” If so, how do you deal with them?

DB: I actually wouldn’t use the terms “relapse” or “fall off the wagon.” What I tell people is that there are seasons of change in our lives. When the seasons change, we may need to make adjustments. When organization solutions and new habits are no longer working, there are underlying causes to uncover. It’s all about acknowledging that reality, and making the appropriate adjustments. I do check in with my clients to see how a solution system is working or not working. Based upon their feedback, I ask a lot of questions and offer follow up tips and solutions. This sort of collaborative communication is what leads to positive change. Occasionally, I will need to do an onsite refresher as well, to get clients back on course. It’s my mission to help them discover the reasons behind those bumps in the road, and help them alter course to find what really works for them and their unique situation.

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?

DB: Here’s the thing, it’s all about prioritizing. Every client I have worked with has simply needed a fresh start, regardless of whether it’s just a closet, an entire home, or office. Many of them used to be organized – or at least things were once not as out-of-control in their lives and homes. Life happened to them. Whether it is a death, divorce, more children, less children, loss of a job etc. Something has shifted and they have gotten off track. They need a fresh start, and can’t do it alone. That’s when the help of a professional can enable that new beginning. Few people benefit in a lasting way by having someone come in to just organize and declutter their stuff. People really need to understand their habits, and why they do what they do or don’t do. They need to take part in decision making, and be a part of the process for making the adjustments to enable new habits, so that they can become just that – new habits. All systems do not work for everyone because we all have different thought processes, different lifestyles, and different abilities. If an organizer is truly listening and understanding their clients’ needs, that client will understand that adjustments, large and small, are needed as the seasons in their lives inevitably change.

LH: What would you suggest to the organizationally-challenged person as a first step towards getting their house/life/everything in order?

DB: Here’s that word again – they must make getting organized a priority, first and foremost. We always make time for what is truly important in our lives. Next, they should take the time to think about not only what they do, but why they do it. Based on that, they can then set up personalized systems that work for them. Giving everything a home, setting up systems that make it easy to put away, and easy to retrieve. When they are overwhelmed, they should understand that organizing is not just about making everything look pretty. And if the system they set up is not working, analyze and adjust. Still having a hard time? Call a professional. Don’t go it alone!

In conclusion, I’d like to stress that it’s not just about clutter and purging. Solutions are found through understanding how and why you do the things you do, have the habits that you have, and finding the best way to make the changes you need to make to live a better life. Understanding those things can change your whole perspective, and that’s where I come in as a professional, getting people organized in the way that works for THEM, and increasing the odds of them maintaining the systems after I’m gone. If I can help people learn to think differently, they will do differently!

LH: Thank you for sharing your story with us. It was a pleasure having you as an interviewee.

Find out more about Debbi’s services, including links to her social media accounts on her website.

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Christmas Tree Storage Solutions 2016

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Christmas Tree Storage Solutions

Christmas Tree Storage Solutions to Keep Your Tree in Pristine Shape All Year Round

Christmas Tree Storage Solutions for 2016 – just for you! As promised, here is my second installment of Christmas organizing ideas – namely, Christmas tree storage. Artificial Christmas trees are great for a lot of reasons: they save trees, they don’t shed unsightly needles, you only have to buy one, as opposed to the yearly cost of real trees – and the list goes on. The one downfall of artificial trees is the issue of storage, however.

Fortunately, they usually fold up to make themselves more compact. Some even have multiple pieces, so you can disassemble, but if you have room for storage, why would you want to – especially when you can purchase upright Christmas tree storage bags?

While you may keep the original packaging, over time it gets ragged, shopworn, and dusty from repeatedly removing and replacing the trees. There are better Christmas tree storage solutions and we’ve got them! Whether you desire upright tree storage or a duffle bag style that you can tote around, we have artificial Christmas tree bags in a huge range of styles and sizes for every budget.

Christmas Tree Storage Solutions by Size

1. Greenskeeper Tree Storage Bag – 10-12 Foot
I always wanted a gigantic Christmas tree but alas, my small house can’t accommodate it. For those of you with cathedral ceilings, however, this Greenskeeper Christmas Tree Storage Bag is just for you. Designed for 10-12 foot trees, this super-heavy-duty bag has a sturdy, rectangular frame and padded straps for transporting. Heavy-duty wheels make it mobile and there’s extra room for storing other decorations – especially when storing a shorter tree.

2. Christmas Tree Storage Bag – Up to 10 Foot
Trees up to ten feet tall fit nicely in this bare-bones, zippered denier bag and it’s bargained-priced at under 30 dollars (we’re listing it below in the budget section as well). A mesh window lets you view the tree – just in case you forget where you put it next year ;-), although the bright red color also serves as a great reminder.

Christmas Tree Storage Solutions for Upright Storage

1. Upright Christmas Tree Storage Bag – Up to 7.5 Foot
If you have more vertical space available than shelf space, an upright Christmas Tree Storage Bag might be just the thing for you! Using your own tree stand, this tree storage bag ties around your tree via drawstring closures, making it super-easy to use. It’s made of durable polyester and colored bright red so you’re sure not to lose it ;-). Use it for trees up to 7.5 feet tall.

2. Upright Christmas Tree Storage Bag – 7-9 Foot
For 7- 9-foot Christmas tree storage, this heavy-duty storage bag comes with a dedicated dolly for easy moving. Made of heavy, polyester denier, this sturdy storage bag compresses the tree through it’s smart design, saving you the trouble of disassembly. Next Christmas you’ll be ready to go by simply rolling to it’s display location and undoing the fasteners.

Christmas Tree Storage Solutions for the Budget-Minded

1. Rolling Christmas Tree Storage Bag – 6-7.5 Foot
For the budget-minded, this no-frills carrying bag holds a medium-sized artificial Christmas tree from 6-7.5-feet tall and includes wheels for easy transporting. At under 25 dollars, you really can’t go wrong.

2. Rolling Christmas Tree Storage Bag – 6-9 Foot
A heavy-duty, PVC-reinforced design makes this budget bag a reliable way to store 6-9-foot trees and includes three wheels for easy mobility. At 36 dollars, it provides plenty of secure storage without breaking your bank.

Whether you have big or small tree storage needs, you’re sure to love our selection of duffle bag-style and standing Christmas tree storage solutions. Be sure to also read our Christmas ornament storage post for great ideas on keeping your precious ornaments protected year round. Also check out our holiday storage page at Organize-It for tons of ideas for storing all of your Christmas decor.

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Interview with an Organizer: Yve Irish

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Interview with an Organizer – Yve Irish

Yve Irish is a professional organizer, blogger, and active NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) member, planning and chairing the upstate NY group meetings since joining in 2010. She has been featured in numerous articles on organizing and has been an active volunteer in organizing efforts within her community. We’re very pleased to feature her in our latest Interview with an Organizer segment.

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?

YI: I have had a passion and a flair for organizing for as long as I can remember. Born and raised in Germany, I started helping friends and family with their organizing projects from a very young age. In my 20s I worked as an optician, then took time off to stay home with my daughter. After 10 years at home, I yearned to do something that I was passionate about, yet gave me the flexibility to still be there for my daughter. In 2006 I decided to take my organizing skills to a professional level and have loved every moment of it! It has been my greatest pleasure to help make positive changes in my clients’ lives, while doing something I love.

LH: What kind of services do you offer?

YI: My services include residential organizing, staging, downsizing, moving assistance, as well as virtual organizing. A detailed description of each service is available on my website.

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?

YI: Daily and weekly planning are a vital part to staying organized, even more so for people with busy life styles. Goal setting and scheduling tasks in your calendar will help keep things on track, while reducing stress and anxiety.

It’s also important to create new habits, such as:

  • Preparing every evening for the day ahead (both parents and children)
  • Staying ahead of paper clutter, by routinely sorting and filing mail and incoming papers from work and school
  • Quarterly purging/reorganizing of closets and storage spaces

LH: What is the most common problem people have with getting organized, in your experience?

YI: In many cases, it’s years of accumulated belongings. We acquire new things, yet often neglect to purge the old, which leads to cluttered storage spaces and homes. Once a person is at this stage, it can often feel too overwhelming of a task to get out from under all that clutter.

Another reason for many of my clients, is simply not having enough time in their busy schedule to getting things done. Between family, career, and maintaining the home, there is little time to devote to organizing. Often people take on too much, not wanting to say no, yet end up having to make concessions somewhere along the way. Unfortunately, our quality of life suffers, leaving us stressed and overwhelmed, with cluttered homes and schedules.

LH: What would you suggest to someone challenged by their clutter as a first step towards getting their house/life/everything in order?

YI: An important first step to getting organized is to start by creating a plan. Thinking about which areas of one’s home/life need attention, then listing each area in order of importance.

For example, if you are constantly running your children from one activity to the next, you may benefit from first setting up a “launching pad,” where everything you need is readily accessible. Backpacks, sports equipment, shoes, etc. should live here. Many times, I recommend creating a spot in the mudroom or garage for this. A “command center” is also a vital part to keeping the family on track, with a family calendar that clearly shows everyone’s activities and responsibilities as well as folders or cubbies for each child for holding school papers, etc.

Once a plan has been created, it is important to schedule time in your calendar to get started on the projects. Asking for help from family members, friends, or even a professional can often make the process less daunting and, dare I say, even fun.

Learning to simplify by cutting down on clutter and commitments (saying no at times), as well as improving one’s time management skills will reduce stress and greatly improve one’s life.

LH: Do you have suggestions for people interested in becoming professional organizers?

YI: Start by joining NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) which provides a multitude of education, networking with colleagues from around the US, as well as volunteer opportunities.

Taking online courses, reading books on organizing, and most importantly – getting hands-on experience by organizing for family members and friends.

LH: Thank you much for sharing your work with us.

Find Yve on www.OrganizingbyYve.com.

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