September 29, 2023
September 29, 2023

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Let Me Help You Declutter

Sometimes the scariest thing to a writer is the blank page. I learned that from Professor Toporoff, my first creative writing professor in college.

Can’t think.

Brain dumb.

Inspiration won’t come.

Poor ink.

Bum pen.

Best wishes.


So the professor suggested we write something on our page just so it is no longer blank. Then we have the “security blanket” of some words on a page that can always be erased. His instructions were “after you see some words on your page, keep writing.”

Can’t think. Brain dumb.

My name is Ellen Smith. My organizing business is called iDeclutter, LLC. You want to know how that name originated? I was sitting in a terribly boring timeshare pitch. It was the week I had been unsuccessfully trying to come up with a name for my business. As I was tuning out the salesperson and trying to think of a show-stopping name, I was staring at the posters on the wall. One poster was for the latest iPhone. I noticed the lowercase “i” in front of an upper-case letter. I began to wonder how I could use the small “i” in front of an uppercase letter and form a word. Actually, not a word. A business name. iOrganize? iPurge? iDeclutter? Yesssss! Boy am I glad my husband and I attended that timeshare pitch. I am so grateful it was boring so my mind could wander. iWander, LLC? Er… nope.

Inspiration won’t come.

I have clients from mid-Jersey, North and South Jersey and even Pennsylvania, Manhattan and Long Island. I love my clients! I love my work! To quote the most famous organizer ever, “it sparks joy.” I promised to give a shout-out in my first column to one particular client. (You know who you are.) I hope you are giving yourself five to 10 minutes each evening to arrange the kitchen for the next morning. You know—setting out the breakfast dishes and non-perishable foods. Lunch bags and containers labeled for each child. Camp bags all packed so there is less running around and searching for things in the morning. Are you using your checklists?

My favorite conversation topics include all the wonderful organizing tools you can find at The Container Store and at Target, current and future program topics at the NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals) Northern New Jersey meetings (I am the programming director) and give-and-take discussions with other professional organizers on challenging situations we face on our jobs. I also love the amazing gratitude I feel when I can be part of seemingly coincidental incidents that fall perfectly into place. Most recently my friend told me of a new Jewish immigrant family in great need will be moving to the area and I had a client who was looking to give away beds, a bedroom set and a dinette set. I was able to make a connection. One of my favorite mantras and deep beliefs is that there are no coincidences. This is another example why I love being a professional organizer (PO).

Poor ink. Bum pen.

In college I majored in English and minored in marketing. There was no such thing as a degree in professional organizing. Maybe in the near future it will be a thing. In most cases women and men arrive at organizing as their second or third career. We all take our knowledge and expertise from our former careers and apply it to organizing. I know POs who came from backgrounds such as interior design, teaching, accounting, social work, law, computer programming and banking. This allows each one of us to develop an expertise and find our individual niche. I have been in business for about 12 years. It is just recently that I am coming across young women who go straight away toward a career in professional organizing. This kind of career allows the freedom to set a schedule friendly to a young mother or to allow for making organizing a second job.

In March I spoke at my younger daughter’s former high school on Career Night. I gave my talk three times to small groups of girls and their mothers. More than any other career path I was previously on, I love being a professional organizer. I love it because I am actually helping people. I am improving something about their home or life. I also tried to give over how I am constantly learning on the job and applying my knowledge to other clients. This learning may involve the use of tools, better ways to approach challenges, or new techniques to interact with clients. When the evening was over I felt I had been a good source of information to any of these lovely, intelligent, poised, charming young ladies who have been considering becoming a professional organizer!

Best wishes. Amen.

By Ellen Smith

If my organizing or styling services can be of help to you, a family member or a friend, please contact me, Ellen Smith, at [email protected]. I take a gentle approach; I am nurturing and non-judgmental. Be sure to check out my website

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