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

Organized and Clutter-Free: Frequently Asked Questions

When I meet people for the first time, there are some basic questions that I am asked once they hear that I am a professional organizer. I thought it might be fun to share these questions and my answers with you.

Question #1: “What do I do with all the clothes in my closet that do not fit? After all, I am hoping to fit into them someday.”

Sound familiar? It does to me too. I’ve asked myself this question many times over the years as I have been through my share of weight loss, gain and loss again. Many of us hold on to the fantasy of what we should look like in clothing, which may be in contrast to what the mirror reflects back to us.

Well-intentioned projects such as losing weight do not necessarily produce results, happiness or long-term success. We need to take a realistic look at our current lifestyles including eating habits, health and activity level. For example, fitting into that dress that you wore when you were 30 before the babies came and changed everything may be unrealistic for a post-menopausal body.

Why put that pressure on yourself? Donate the clothing to a wonderful charity and feel great about making someone smile who otherwise could not afford to purchase the garment. Dress for the here and now, not your fantasy of tomorrow or next year. And once dressed, be sure to stand up straight, smile, go forth and conquer.

Question #2: “How long will the organizing process take?”

This question is a tough one to answer for many different reasons. I advise my customers that it all depends on them. If the client is able to make decisions quickly and move on, then chances are I can give them an approximate length of time to complete the project. However, I will not know that until we have worked together for a few hours and I have the opportunity to observe and manage the “rhythm” of their decision-making process.

Also, some projects are more time and labor intensive than others. For example, a closet may have hidden clothing packed away in the back that has not seen the light of day for 10 years. These surprise finds add to the time it takes to complete a project. A file cabinet drawer has over 3,000 pieces of paper, which means that each one has a memory and a possible legal need attached to it. A garage filled with unmarked cartons could take 10 minutes to address the contents of each carton, or three hours. It all depends, so set your expectations on “realistic” and get to work.

Question #3: “I’ve done this before and I fell back into the same patterns a few months after the organizing was done. How will this time be different?”

Backsliding is a common experience when working towards de-cluttering your home. The number-one goal of your professional organizer is to train you on how to not only get your current “stuff” in order, but to share techniques to help you maintain it.

Think about a weight loss program: you change your eating and have success by losing pounds and get the positive reinforcement from compliments and wearing clothing in a smaller size. But once you reach your goal, the real work is to maintain the healthy lifestyle in order to keep the weight off. Well, it’s the same with organizing. Getting there is just half the battle, the other half is “keeping it off,” just like the weight.

There are no easy answers to this question. The time has to be right for you to make this change, and once you decide to start I suggest that you check out some great books and websites on home organization. If you feel you need hands-on help, then make sure you choose an organizer who makes you feel comfortable and welcome in your own home. I recommend that you go to the National Association of Professional Organizers’ website at http://www.napo.net and click on the “Consumers” tab for more information.

Happy Organizing!

Eileen Bergman is a professional organizer, a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). Eileen may be reached at (973) 303-3236 or [email protected].

By Eileen Bergman

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