Dear Professional Organizer,
Thank you for asking me about myself and about the challenges I face as someone who struggles with clutter and chronic disorganization. First of all, there are reasons why I have these issues. I may have learned these behaviours from a parent or maybe my parent was a neat freak and I just decided to do things differently than they did. Or, perhaps, I grew up in a home where there were a lot of children and we didn’t have a lot of money and I always felt like I didn’t have what I needed. There are reasons why I am challenged with my stuff.
I may have had a lot of trauma and losses in my life and get a lot of comfort being around all of my belongings and treasures. They may remind me of happier times in my life. If I have had some losses around relationships my stuff actually helps me to feel safe. It means that others will not come in and cannot hurt me.
There is a good chance that I experience mental health challenges and may suffer from Depression, Anxiety, ADHD and/or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I may cancel appointments depending on how I am feeling that day. I really need to feel I am in a good space to tackle any task. This work can bring up a lot of anxiety which is very scary for me.
If we are able to work together, please know that I may only be able to work for a short time. I will probably hit a wall at some point and we will need to stop until next time. Trust is a huge issue for me. In the past people have tried to help me by throwing out my stuff when I was away from my home for the day or longer. It felt like such a betrayal like a big part of myself was gone. It’s not helpful at all and I will likely just acquire even more stuff than I had before.
I need to be included in the plan for decluttering my space. Sometimes I will need you to explain to me in more detail as to what you think will help me. I might need to take some time to think about what I want to keep or to give away or let go of. Gentle guidance and questions are helpful to me. I want to feel like I have a say in what stays and what goes. I know what is important for me and I need to be a part of the decision making process or I will not learn anything at all. I need to take and have control over my stuff!
I know that I do have talents and strengths, but I usually forget or minimize them. It would be great if you could help me remember that those strengths will help support me in our process together.
If I know that you understand, it will help me to feel more comfortable with this process. Please think of me as a sister, a mother, a daughter, and know that if you can be non judgemental, patient, nurturing, flexible, accessible, respectful, and compassionate you will be able to help me to make more space in my life and to make progress in my home.
Thanks again for asking for my input and helping me.
These are my words but I would love to know what you think or what you might add to this letter. Please comment on this post or in a private message if you prefer. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Send me an email (with up to 4 photos of your room, closet or other area) and your biggest challenge and goals for your space. I will send you a personalized response with helpful tips, advice, product ideas, encouragement and/or resources specific to you situation.
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I made a decision to consult with Kim via email, describing my goals for my office, and sending along 4-5 pics of it, as it currently looked. (messy, cluttered and disorganized). She then asks some questions, and provided some excellent suggestions on where to start. Fantastic deal for only $50. Currently, I am giving her updates on my progress. When I am all done, I will send her pics of the finished room. My goal is to use this place as an arts and crafts room. In going through this process, I realized that I am motivated by making myself accountable to someone else, besides myself. I respond well to “homework”, and Kim’s ideas gave me a list of things to focus on, which I am currently working through. CL
Can’t wait to work with you!
Happy Decluttering my friends!
This is a compassionate letter that shows a clear understanding of the challenges your clients might have. Like you, I specialize in working with clients that have challenging disorganization. Some of the issues you mentioned were the length of sessions and how tiring that can be for our clients and trust issues around someone else throwing out their stuff.
I pivoted my business (because of the pandemic) to working virtually. My clients love working this way, as do I, so it’s become a permanent business shift. Virtual sessions are shorter (60-90 minutes.) The clients love this because we can focus on a short time and accomplish a lot. Plus, it gives them time to manage the rest of their day. And since they are in charge of the ‘doing,’ the issues around letting go of the stuff is their responsibility. So they have agency over what happens. It’s amazing to see the shifts in ownership, learning, and progress with virtual organizing.
Yes, I have shifted to Virtual Organizing as well and quite like it. Some clients like it as long as they can do the work themselves and its even better if they have someone they trust who can help them as well. Thank you for commenting on my post.
I think all humans need to feel heard and understood. No one, whether they have chronic disorganization or not, want someone else to come in and throw a bunch of their stuff away. It is simply disrespectful, even if it it does with good intentions.
Chronic situations need patience, kindness, and an acknowledgement that people who come alongside are there to help manage, not control or “solve.”
Thank you Seana,
A well-stated letter! Thank you for sharing.
I feel like you touched upon 90% of the people I worked with over the years. Every person was different in their reasons and ways to get organized during sessions. I always went in with being flexible to allow the session to unfold the way that was best for them. Because of this, they felt less stressed and didn’t feel judged.
I love that Sabrina and I definitely think the same way. My clients lead the way for me too. Thank you for commenting
I think this letter is spot-on! The only tiny thing I might add is “I do have talents and strengths, but I usually forget or minimize them. It would be great if you could help me remember that those strengths will help support me in our process together.”
What a great idea for a post – thanks for sharing it!
I love that idea and I am definitely going to edit my post and add what you said. That is so true and so easy for it to be overlooked. Thanks so much
Yes! Many of my clients could have written this. I would also add, “It would be wonderful if you could also bring a sense of lightness and delight to our work together. The clutter may be causing serious consequences but we can still have a laugh and enjoy the process of taming it.”
Unlike those who have pivoted to virtual organizing, I’ve found that the return to in person organizing has meant my clients can connect with me and feel the energy I bring to them and the session much more immediately. Different strokes for different folks! I’m glad there’s an option for everyone who wants to make a change.
This is so on point! I love it. As I was reading, I was envisioning specific clients in my mind who I know would relate to the things you were saying.
Oh, Kim, the compassion necessary to write from this perspective is exactly why clients must gravitate toward you. My favorite part? “I know that I do have talents and strengths, but I usually forget or minimize them. It would be great if you could help me remember that those strengths will help support me in our process together.” We play so many roles for our clients, but we must always remember to keep them, and their unique attributes, foremost in our minds.
You wrote exactly what my clients are thinking.
I appreciate it when they tell me what they are thinking, but that doesn’t always happen, so I ask a lot of questions.