Things I Say When Organizing


I love working with clients, mostly because I enjoy being with and helping people. I love hearing stories, laughing over memories and seeing progress unfold.

While every situation is unique, I’ve noticed over time that there are some phrases I use repeatedly. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to work with me, here are a few things you might hear me say.


“I specialize in motivation”

Many people struggle to get started on projects, even ones they really want to do. This applies to various endeavors, including dieting, exercising and organizing. People will say, “I know that I need to tackle this mess, but I just can’t seem to make myself do it.” My response to this is, “No problem!” I will make sure we get started and stay focused. Paying someone money, and then having her show up at your door, is a very effective way to make change happen.

By the way, if you ever need a little extra motivation, I highly recommend this adorable video:


“Talk to me about this.”

Most people assume I will come in and tell them to get rid of everything. That is completely false. I fully understand that most people have good reasons for why they have various items in their space. In order to decide what to keep and what to shed, it can be helpful to talk it through. Conversation yields discovery, which fosters wise decision-making. For instance, a piece of plastic that looks like trash may actually be a key piece of a child’s toy. Or an old newspaper may have a story about a family member and therefore needs to be saved. Often, a client is actually ready to let a possession go, but just needs to “relive the story” of it one more time. I have learned so much from these precious times, and consider it a privilege to be invited into the memory.


“Why are you keeping this?”

This is a question I ask all the time. Frequently, when discussing belongings, clients tell me what various objects are (e.g. their function) or where they came from (e.g. their provenance). Both of these pieces of information are helpful, yet neither helps me know what to do with them. Understanding why something is being kept is critical in helping to identify where it should go. For example,

If you are keeping an item because you ….             Then it should be …

… feel guilty to get rid of it                                       … donated, trashed, recycled or sold

… use it frequently                                                    … stored in an easy to access location

… might need it someday                                         … clearly labeled and stored remotely

… believe it has monetary value                              … possibly appraised and stored safely

… enjoy the memories it holds                                … stored with memorabilia or displayed

… want to give it someone else                               … shipped/delivered to the recipient

… plan on fixing/repairing it                                     … assessed and repaired

… don’t own it (e.g. it is my husband’s)                  … reviewed by the owner for a decision


“I give you permission”

Often, clients have a nagging urge to get rid of something, and yet are reluctant to do so. They may feel guilty, insecure or fearful. It may sound funny, but it is perfectly normal to ask, “Do I need to keep this?” In some cases, the advice of a professional (e.g. a lawyer, doctor or accountant) may be needed to answer that question. However, in many cases, it is helpful simply to have another person confirm an inner desire to finally move something along. Organizing, like so many other pursuits, is often easier when we do it with another person.


“The fun was in the making”

A common scenario in a household with children is a plethora of artistic creations. Pottery, artwork, sewing projects, sticker art, sand structures and model kits are frequently made in the home or come back from parties, school and activities. Often, we feel pressure to keep and/or display these pieces. When an object is new, that is a good idea. I typically suggest clients designate a “gallery” where the latest Lego kit or bedazzled picture frame can live. However, after a reasonable time has passed (which depends on the individual), it is usually okay to let them go. [Note: you can always take a photograph of a special piece for posterity!] For many projects, the joy of creativity is more in the “construction” phase than in the display phase, and it is healthy to let children know that they don’t need to keep the object in order to remember the fun.


“I love that idea!”

While I am the professional, hired to bring in ideas and solutions, I often find that clients have terrific ideas of their own. When talking about where or how to store something, it is very common for a client to come up with the winning idea. I love when this happens, because it builds a client’s confidence to see that he/she can organize. I love smart solutions, regardless of where they come from.


“I affirm you”

Everyone needs affirmation, especially when trying to move forward in a new, challenging or stressful area. I am a firm believer that a little encouragement goes a long way. When clients tell me about steps they have taken or freeing decisions they have made, I am known to say, “I affirm you!” Knowing that someone else understands and celebrates with us makes the victory all the sweeter.


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Have you ever hired a professional organizer? What phrases did he/she use?