8 Myths About Organizers - Debunked!
As a member of NAPO (the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals), I get to participate in a forum of other Professional Organizers where we share ideas, ask questions, and generally help each other out. Recently, an organizer posted about common organizer myths, and through the lively discussion with other organizers I was inspired to make my own list and share it.
So, here are 8 ideas many people have about professional organizers that are plum wrong.
Our homes look like Martha Stewart’s
Nope! Mine has functional chaos because I live there. It’s not a museum and there are definitely postponed decisions (organizing pioneer Barbara Hemphill’s definition of “clutter”), but my things are functional and my piles are living, moving activities. I have systems to deal with my piles so they don’t get out of hand, but they for sure exist. It’s especially difficult to keep a home “perfect” when you live with other people and their stuff and habits take their own form. Besides, nobody’s life is actually Pinterest Perfect.
We were born with the organizing gene
False! Being organized is a learned skill. I grew up learning it and I enjoyed it, so it became a strong habit. But I started out with a chaotic room with toys everywhere and clothes shoved in whatever drawer with no thought put into it at all. Just like any new skill, anybody can learn it if they decide they really want it and then practice. Practice makes progress!
We have OCD
Not really. I personally have some compulsions, but I do not have a diagnosis of OCD, nor do I think I fit into that category. This is a real mental disorder in the DSM and there are lots of ways to manage the disorder with therapy and medication. There is no reason a person with OCD couldn’t also be a Professional Organizer, but speaking just for myself, I don’t have it.
We throw away everything
While I might have a small personal compulsion to keep getting rid of my own things, I never pressure my clients to throw things away. It’s always their decision to keep something or let it go.
Ehhh, kinda. Speaking only for myself, I’m minimal-ish. I like not owning a bunch of stuff I have to worry about and keep packing up and taking with me every time I move, but I definitely have more than I technically need. My clothes are a prime example of that! How many plain black shirts (or plain black dresses) do I really need? But I enjoy wearing different styles in different seasons, and I need different kinds of clothes depending on what I’m doing. Professional clothes for networking, clothes I can get dirty in for organizing, workout clothes, casual clothes, fancy clothes, fun clothes, and costumes! So, yeah. While I fantasize about living in a tiny home, I don’t want to give up my closet space, dresser, and big mirror.
We hate “stuff”
Also nope! I have some very sentimental items that don’t mean a thing to anyone else. They live on display as decorations or function as bookends if they’re the right size. I have a sentimental file and a sentimental box where I keep memorabilia and flip through it once in a while to walk down memory lane. I’ll sometimes get rid of a thing or two when it feels appropriate, but I like hanging on to most of it. These things have stories!
We judge your space
Absolutely not! Clutter is not a character flaw and I don’t judge people based on the state of their homes. When I look through a client’s home and listen to their organizing struggles, I think about how to solve the puzzle and help them feel better. My clients are pretty darn great and it would hurt all of us if I went in there with a judgemental mindset.
We can wave a magic wand and get it done in an hour
Nah, we’re not blessed with TV magic. Every project has its own set of variables, from how big the space is, to how much stuff there is to go through, to how quickly you can make decisions. Paper can take a long time since we go through every page. Sentimental items also often take a while because of all the stories attached to them. But sometimes my clients are super ready to get rid of the things they don’t need and can breeze through an area before needing to take some time to think in another one. Most projects take multiple sessions, especially if you want to be able to keep up the new system once it’s done.
Do you have any impressions of Professional Organizers that make you wonder if they’re true? Let me know, and I’ll share my perspective with you.