Over the past 5 years, not a month goes by that I don't hear from a handful of people who are interested in starting an organizing business similar to what I've created.
Here are 5 things to consider for those of you interested in the same. Within these 5 considerations, I'll share parts of my story of entrepreneurship (check out this post for 10 things I've learned in 10 years of being an entrepreneur).
1) Do you want to make money to pay for your life or do you want to start a company?
These are two completely different approaches, and a necessity to consider. The first step of my Vision Cycle for any organizing project is helping a client determine their vision. So I ask you: What is your vision for being an organizer? Is it to have an outlet, make some side money from your hobby, help people in need, and/or create a career that can support you for years to come?
All of them are possible, and you need to decide early on whether you want your organizing gigs to be a hobby, charity, or business. Mine is a mixture of all 3 - however, in the last 3 years I've had to become unapologetic about creating a profitable business, knowing that the hobby-like enjoyment with which I began in 2008 may fade at moments and be resurrected at others, in pursuit of creating a company that can function without me one day.
2) Do you want to own your own business or work for another organizer?
The two options here are the most common options for someone looking into being an organizer. For many of my teammates, they are good at organizing and either want an outlet or extra money for the family piggy bank. For me, I am an entrepreneur from birth and cannot escape the mindset of business growth and endless possibilities for the future. I thrive on challenge, uncertainty, and even failure.
You may or may not know that before I was a full time organizer beginning in 2015, I cycled through many types of jobs and a nursing career that did not work out. I went to undergrad at Texas A&M, then took post-grad seminary classes, then went back to nursing school. The short of it is that I took the NCLEX 6 or 7 times (I lost count) without passing. You better believe this sent me into a tailspin of failure and doubt and depression at times centered on the question of what I'm doing with my life. However, looking back, it's the failure that catapulted me forward.
In fall 2012 after losing a nursing job, I asked myself the question, "What would I do if money was no object?" and the dream in my heart was traveling the U.S. for 40 days, organizing for people - mostly pastors of church plants, cooking crepes for them, and easing their load. When I graduated college I felt a call to ministry, which has never really left me, and I believe this business is my ministry.... and so I have a soft spot for ministry families and serving them.
Because of this deeper passion behind my work, I knew that working for another organizer was not going to work for me. The question for you to consider as you think of becoming an organizer is the question of how you want your life to look. Do you want/need the freedom to call the shots and simultaneously agree to the liabilities that come with business ownership? OR do you simply love organizing and want someone else to manage the back end of never ending admin, taxes, insurance and scheduling? Both are possible.
3. Do you want to be a solopreneur or have a team?
So you have convinced yourself that you are going to be a fab organizer - way to go! Do you envision yourself charging $40-$50/hr, 15-25 hours per week, and capping out at that income (keeping in mind you often only take home 40-50% after expenses and taxes)?
Or do you envision yourself creating a team of organizers who can see your clients, implement parts or all of the process, and create revenue from their work as well?
My journey started by charging $15/hr to anyone who would let me help them in their homes. I have a real passion for coming alongside people - I'd honestly do it for free, if all my life expenses were covered. The economy doesn't run that way though.... so over time, I had to grow leaps and bounds and more leaps and bounds to overcome mindset issues in charging clients what are now significant package rates to produce even more significant results in their homes.
I have always operated with the mindset that I want my clients to feel like the bigger winner - where they experience the results we provide and literally feel that they would have paid anything to gain that feeling. This is made possible for me by having a team. Within the first year of full time business, I realized that there are areas where I am strong and there are other areas where I need some serious support.
Over time I have been able to grow the budget to pay regular people to be technicians and admins. Truth: I have never felt ready to hire. Another truth: Every time I hire, my revenue increases because it frees me up to do what only I can do.
The E-Myth by Michael Gerber supports the notion that a successful business has three main roles: entrepreneur, technician and admin. In the case of home organizing, this means that I am the entrepreneur, my organizers are my technicians, and my scheduler and financial assistant are my admins.
Now, granted, I still do a ton of hands-on organizing as well as a large chunk of admin. I dream of the day I outsource everything tax-related... as Marie Kondo would say, "This does not spark joy."
Until then, I work hard to stay in my zone of genius, which is vision and strategy, and delegate other areas to teammates where they are strong, and doing what is necessary to stay legal. haha. My Waco and Ann Arbor teams are amazing individuals with gifts different than my own, for which I thank the good Lord. There is no way I could have built this 6-figure business without teammates picking up where I am needing support and carrying the projects in ways that only they truly can. For example, I have osteoarthritis in my back. My physical ability is limited and this limits the hours and days I am able to work. I would no longer be able to survive as a solopreneur... it is essential that I have teammates who are strong.
How about you? Do you envision having people come alongside you or do you envision being a one-woman operation? Both are completely possible.
4. Do you know what marketing means?
Many organizers get into this work because they love organizing. Many organizers quickly find that marketing is an animal of its own, and attracting the kinds of clients who will pay your rates is not as easy as walking around with a sign that says "Hire me." My advice here is that all of your efforts add up, so keep making all the different kinds of efforts at visibility and networking.
However in my experience there is one VITAL marketing piece and that is being able to be found when people are looking for you. I call that inbound marketing.
Outbound marketing is more like creating ads, issuing invitations, email marketing, hosting events, posting in social media groups and sites, and making effort to be seen. Inbound marketing has accounted for 80% of my clients which is simply: being Google-able.
I won't divulge all my secrets but I will say, find out how to be found on Google and you are well on your way to attracting new clients. This also means your website needs to be set up correctly to capture new traffic and leads, but that is another strategy lesson for another day. Learn what inbound marketing means and how to master it.
5. Can you be emotionally invested in the success of your organizing business?
Here's a big one. Are you in this for a little fun and cash or are you in this with your blood sweat and tears and the occasional sleepless night? Both are fine. You do you. In order to build a substantial business in 3-5 years that will last you for years to come, you must be emotionally invested in this business, in seeing your clients succeed, in learning new approaches to problems for different types of people, and in living an "all-in" lifestyle as an entrepreneur. I can't even count how many gig-economy type jobs I've done in the last 10 years to make ends meet. Only in the last year has this business become consistently enough to expect it to meet all my needs and then some every month.
All I'm sayin' is it is work. A heckuva lot of work.
Are you willing to put in the work? Are you willing to wake up early and stay up late and set aside other hobbies and pursuits for a time in order to be completely invested? This is an industry that requires your mind and heart both to be present. Consider whether your heart is truly in this. If you don't feel like it is, I vote to consider another path.
I hope these 5 concepts help you as you decide whether to be an organizer. For those interested in learning more in a 1:1 consultation, this is a service I offer to support other organizers. The package is $150 for a 45 minute recorded Zoom call. Feel free to email me at email@example.com to request to schedule a call. This is not a coaching package; this is a one or two time call to support you with insights and experience from someone who does this line of work and is happy to share successes and failures.
As a professional organizer you can imagine how thrilled I was to hear about the new Netflix series, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.
If you’re reading this blog you’ve likely heard of Marie Kondo, whose 2014 book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” swept the nation (ok, the GLOBE!) by storm.
In 2016 she published a second book, “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up.”
THE KONMARI METHOD™
The premise of the books and Marie’s now trademarked “KonMari™” method include a series of steps for readers (and viewers of the show) to follow:
Along the way, homeowners are encouraged to touch every item they are considering, determining if it “sparks joy” in them. If it does, the item can go in the “keep” pile. No sparks? Off it goes!
Items to be retained are then folded in very particular ways (some make sense; others not so much) and are organized using boxes or other containers.
Finally, the KonMari method specifies the organizing be done ikki ni, which is Japanese for doing it all at once.
Sounds reasonable, right? Or maybe you’re already overwhelmed.
While there are things I like about the KonMari™ method, it has serious drawbacks for many who try to use it (if you don’t believe me, just refer to Google).
This last point is a really big one for me. In fact, it’s so important I am working on a book that delves into this topic. Watch for more details on that in the future!
In spite of these concerns, there are some things I loved about the Netflix series. Some of the stories were so powerful! I found that many of the episodes had similar themes and outcomes to those experienced by my organizing clients. Here were some of my favorite take-aways (combined from reality TV and actual reality!):
A man supporting his wife’s desire to declutter. Even though he wasn’t that excited about the project initially, a husband really wanted to support his wife. And in the end, he was delighted with the progress (and results!) they both achieved.
Gathering like items in one place to sort. It starts with all your clothes fitting nicely into your closet. Pretty soon you’ve got a surplus of clothes, and you take over the closet in the spare bedroom … and then you’re setting up wardrobes in the garage and attic too. When you allow your possessions to move outside the borders of their assigned spaces, you lose sight of exactly what you have – and that often means wasted time (searching) and wasted money (buying duplicates). Putting like items in a single spot to organize is a great way to clarify what you have and what you need.
Creating space for new experiences. One of the people on the series talked about how looking at all the shoes they owned made them rethink their values. They had spent thousands of dollars on shoes that had never been worn! Decluttering doesn’t just create physical space; it also creates an opportunity for new values and experiences. One of my clients was able to move forward with her writing business after taking charge of the clutter that was creating chaos. It truly changed her life!
Rethinking your possessions … and the way you view your life. I was really struck by an episode where a widow cleared out many of her husband’s belongings. My own organizing clients have found their joy in having a dining room table cleared off so they can eat as a family again. Another was able to reignite her creative spark because she was finally able to find her craft supplies after reorganizing her space.
It’s emotional awakenings like these that are at the heart of why I love being a professional organizer. Of course, it’s satisfying to see a client’s home get decluttered. But it’s the space clients regain in their lives that is equally rewarding.
As you watch the Netflix series (and I hope you do!), what emotions does it trigger for you? And does it make you wonder why you are holding on to things that may not serve you well?
If you’ve tried to reorganize your life using Marie Kondo’s KonMari™ method I would love to hear what you think! What worked for you? What didn’t?
And when you're ready to spark joy in your home, please contact me for a free consultation phone call.
Many of my clients hire my teams because they are overwhelmed by the visual and physical distraction of clutter and disorganization. They feel they’ve lost control, and they want to deal with the “stuff” in their home.
Of course, everyone’s “stuff” is different. For some families it’s a garage that has morphed into a giant storage facility. Others also rent one (or more!) storage facilities. And some are shimmying through their home, avoiding piles of clutter along the way.
Others have had an “aha” moment when they realized that clutter is actually costing them money, time, and even relationships.
THE FOUR COSTS OF CLUTTER
If you’ve ever struggled with a house that is less than ideally organized for your needs, you’ve likely experienced the emotional cost of clutter.
You’re irritated with your family. Frustrated that you are in this situation. And when you look around your home you feel disappointment rather than joy.
You may have experienced health costs. Piles of clutter attract bugs and yuckies, who love to burrow in spots where they can sense they will be undisturbed. Having bugs and rodents is bad enough but think about all the dust and mold that could come with clutter. Treating allergic reactions or respiratory problems can be costly!
Additionally, when aging in place, clutter becomes a fall risk. One fall can change an entire family by launching them into action with moving mom or dad into assisted living. This can provide quite an interruption to regular life, especially when parents live across the country.
Short on time? Reduce the clutter! Homeowners who do spend about 40% less time on household tasks.
But have you ever thought about the financial costs of clutter?
CLUTTER IS EXPENSIVE (REALLY EXPENSIVE!)
Do these two facts surprise you?
There are other financial costs to clutter as well.
CLEAN-OUT AND CLEAN-UP COSTS
Even if you could tolerate the day-to-day stress of clutter, someday you’re going to move. Whether you’re upsizing or downsizing you’ll have to reckon with all that clutter.
More stuff equals more cost. On average, it costs $1 per pound to move small items. Does it really make sense to spend your hard-earned money to move things you don’t need (and maybe didn’t even pay that much for?). And of course, bigger items (such as furniture) cost a lot more than that $1 per pound figure.
At the end of the day, it just doesn’t make dollars and sense to keep items that don’t have value.
ARE YOU DUPLICATING (OR TRIPLICATING!) YOUR LIFE?
Can’t find your running shoes … or your favorite sweater? Duplicating items that you already own is expensive! When we allow clutter to take control, we lose it. Buying a new sweater because you can’t find the one you love not only costs money you don’t need to spend, it also adds even more clutter to your life.
MISSING OUT ON TAX DEDUCTIONS
Any deductions you can take on your taxes are a good thing … but only if you can find the receipts to support them. If you lack a system for managing receipts, you’re losing money.
We’ve all bought something that didn’t work out for whatever reason. And it’s great to be able to return that item to the store. Without a receipt, that’s probably not going to happen. The result? Lost money, frustration, and more clutter in your house!
LOST GIFT CARDS
It’s super easy to misplace these if you don’t have a solid organizing system in place. About $1 billion dollars in gift cards are not redeemed each year (makes you rethink your gift-giving, doesn’t it?).
Most of my clients who have disorganized homes also struggle with wasted food. If you don’t know what you have (and what you need), you’ll end up buying too much or something – and it expires – or not enough of something, requiring additional trips to the grocery store.
LOST BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES
Ever misplaced a business card after a meeting or event, or forgotten to follow up with someone you met? Depending on how you make your living that could cost you big (not to mention that it’s just plain embarrassing).
CLUTTER IS A HABIT YOU’VE LEARNED
And that’s good news because you can unlearn that habit and learn new organizational habits that work for you and your family, eliminating chaos and clutter … and putting money back in your pocket!
Ready to get started? You are in luck because we are offering a RARE bonus opportunity for you to jump start your projects with a 12-hour clean sweep. See more details here (Waco special and Ann Arbor special). Offer valid 11/20/18-11/24/18.
Happy autumn from Ann Arbor, MI and Waco, TX!
In my last post I answered a question I’m asked over and over … how to get my husband on board with hiring a professional organizer!
When a wife is super excited about the prospect of conquering chaos and ending up with a space that’s been organized it can be tough if the husband is hanging back – or just plain against the idea.
In that last post talked about ways you can approach your husband if he likes the idea of an organized home but doesn’t want to invest in making happening. Sometimes that’s a question of dollars and cents and sometimes husbands feel like the two of you can get it figured out on your own.
So what happens when your husband is 100% behind you getting the house organized, but just isn’t willing to participate in the process and doing the work?
That’s a tough one! But I have some ideas on how you can deal with this situation. It’s not as uncommon as you might think.
How do you convince your hubby to organize and declutter his stuff?
I know that might be a bit tough to hear – and maybe wasn’t what you were hoping for. The truth is there’s not a single, simple phrase or action that’s going to convince a reluctant husband to organize his stuff on your timetable (and sometimes not at all!).
Think about the last time someone tried to change your mind on a topic that was important to them. Like politics! You might have heard a series of logical arguments on why you should change your mind on a vote, a candidate, a position, or an idea. And while those might have been really good logical arguments, you probably need to let them gel in the back of your mind for quite a while before you have a change of heart. Or maybe you need to see the change in action before you decide if it’s a good idea for you personally.
The same holds true for organizing! After working with hundreds of families, I know that decluttering is an emotional process. While sometimes everyone in the family is on board at the outset, often one or more family members aren’t ready for the transition.
Seven suggestions that may help:
1 // Find your common ground. Focus on what you want as a couple – or a family – and use that as a starting point. It’s rare that one person is completely opposed to the idea of a clean and organized home. Usually their reluctance to participate is a fear of being judged for their “stuff” and the decisions that have led to the clutter.
2 // Focus on your stuff. There’s a lot in a house that you have control over – maybe most of it! Anything that is “your” space is fair game, as are your possessions and the ones your husband doesn’t care about. Feel free to organize the things you legitimately have control over.
3 // Keep personal possessions out of common areas. Your common living spaces aren’t the place to store personal possessions. When common areas are free of personal possessions, you’ll be able to enjoy them more – and the visual reminders of someone else’s “stuff” won’t be facing you at all times.
4 // Don’t lord your organized spaces over your husband’s cluttered ones. Rather than pick at him for the messes he (still) has, enjoy the gains you have made. Quietly. To yourself. Your organized spaces, and the calm they create, will be a great example for your husband.
5 // Don’t be sneaky. You might be tempted to start going through your husband’s personal possessions. After all, would he really notice if you removed those T-shirts he hasn’t worn since college, or those old textbooks? As hard as it might be, don’t remove someone else’s possessions without their permission.
6 // Don’t let clutter divide you. Love and appreciate your husband for all the wonderful things he brings to the relationship. Don’t resent him for not being ready to organize and declutter his universe, even if you’ve already done that in yours.
7 // Be patient. Sometimes a little patience is all you need. When your husband sees the benefits of an organized home and doesn’t feel pushed to help, he may come around and decide he’s ready to do his part. Now you can use all the skills you’ve learned in organizing your space to help him organize his space!
So are you ready to get started on YOU? Here's a chance to ask for a Christmas gift with a rare bonus opportunity for you. Jump start your projects with a 12-hour clean sweep. See more details here (Waco special and Ann Arbor special). Offer valid 11/20/18-11/24/18.
Do you ever wonder what kinds of questions flood the inbox of a professional organizer?
Whether I’m working out of my Ann Arbor, Michigan office or my office in Waco, Texas the questions are very similar.
And one question I hear over and over is this,
“Holly, I am so excited about getting my home organized. But my husband isn’t on board. What can I do?”
First – congratulations on being ready to tackle the organization of your home. What a great decision!
And ouch! It’s so tough to be excited about corralling the clutter and finding organizing solutions … only to discover you might be on a solo mission!
When husbands aren’t on board I find it’s typically one of three scenarios:
Scenario #1: your husband wants an organized home but doesn’t want you to invest in an organizer or organizing course or system. Either he doesn’t want to spend the money, or he thinks you ought to be able to handle this on your own (or with his help).
Scenario #2: your husband wants an organized home and thinks it’s great for you to be organized and have a more beautiful home as a result. However, he has zero interest in getting his stuff managed or helping you get things under control.
Scenario #3: your husband doesn’t care whether or not your home is organized.
Today I want to focus on the first scenario (we’ll tackle the second and third ones in a future post).
Here are some talking points to use with your guy if he’s resisting the idea of you hiring a professional organizer.
We hire other experts. Why not an organizer?
No one would expect you to know how to change your own oil, file complicated tax returns, make home repairs, sew your own clothing, cut your own hair, perform your own medical procedures … well, you get my drift.
Professional organizers are experts at uncovering organizational problems, diagnosing systems and routines that aren’t working, creating a clean slate, and then teaching and transferring tips, techniques, and tactics to homeowners and their families so they can maintain their newly organized space.
And there’s this to consider: a professional organizer can accomplish in six hours what it might take you six months to complete.
It’s super easy to get overwhelmed and distracted.
When faced with a chore that seems monumental, or an entire house that needs organizing, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It takes three times as long to get tasks completed (if you complete them at all), leaving less time for the stuff that’s really important – you and your family.
A professional organizer holds you accountable, keeps you on track, and shortens the amount of time it takes to accomplish your organizing goals.
We’ve tried DIY organizing. It isn’t working.
Almost all the women I work with have tried to organize their home on their own – without outside help. If that’s true for you too, perhaps ask one or more of the following questions to help your guy understand the emotional magnitude of the problem. Sometimes women are trying so hard to be superwomen that the men around them often don’t know how frustrated they are. You might ask:
We waste time and emotional energy when our home isn’t organized.
Organizing is a fantastic investment in your marriage. When you feel organized and on top of her household it leaves you more time to invest in your family. Instead of dealing with the mounting frustration of digging for missing tennis shoes, that wrench you can’t seem to put your hand on, or that elusive thumb drive, you’re outside playing in the yard or heading to a friend’s house for a barbeque and a fun afternoon watching the big game.
Having an organized home improves your quality of life, reduces stress, eliminates wasted time, and allows your energy to go where it’s most beneficial – to your husband and family. An organized home usually means a happier spouse, and a happier family (oh – and happier pets too!).
And who doesn’t want a peaceful and happy marriage and a joyful life?
One of my clients in Waco, TX shared this message with me after I helped him and his wife... maybe you find yourself in their situation of needing more peace.
Since Holly came, we have cleared out our house. We have downsized that one specific room and have sold things quicker. We took different tips from Holly such as different spouses having our own workspaces. Doing things like this has allowed us to not feel like packrats or hoarders anymore, but to have a more peaceful environment which is really a reflection of our marriage as we are maintaining the peace there. Thank you Holly!
We’ll talk in the future about strategies for the husband who is happy to have you hire an organizer, but just isn’t ready to be part of the process.
Are you ready to get started on YOU? Here's a chance to ask for a Christmas gift with a rare bonus opportunity. Jump start your projects with a 12-hour clean sweep. See more details here (Waco special and Ann Arbor special). Offer valid 11/20/18-11/24/18.
Clutter and depression can be a vicious cycle.
Depression can lead to a cluttered home and then the cluttered home can contribute to depression. We get into survival mode and tend to do less about the house when depressed, so it turns into this cycle that is hard to escape.
I have 3 things to share today for you to consider if you find yourself in this painful slump.
Rather than telling you that you need to get your home ship shape in a week, I would say pick one area and make a haven. This is especially important if you are a creative person or you are introverted.
Creative people tend to let fun and life-giving interests go when they feel depressed, but it’s exactly the time they need to make a space for their creative outlet.
Introverts are generally recharged by alone time, and our environment affects our mind. When I went through a period of depression a few years ago, I literally gutted my bedroom, painted the walls, got white bedding, and made a craft desk in the corner. I finally felt like I had a place to relax and recharge where I wasn’t surrounded by clutter.
So pick an area in your house to make it a haven for you. It might be a closet for prayer or an extra bedroom for crafts or a man cave in the garage to do your woodworking. Think back to the things that were life-giving for you to do before you sank into this depression and then make a space for yourself to be able to do it.
Secondly – I would say that one element of depression can be a low self-concept or even self-hatred. I have heard it said that depression is hatred turned inward. To turn it around we need to practice self-love and self-care. Women tend to be great at taking care of others and not great at taking care of ourselves. Liza Baker, my beloved health coach, has been coaching me on what it means to take care of me. Even if you don't feel the love for the precious person you are, the act of practicing it and speaking love to yourself can be powerful. It is an act of faith of coming into agreement with how God created us - so valuable and loved.
Organizing is actually an act of self-care. It’s setting up your future self for success by putting stuff where you can find it when you need it. It’s making an environment that you can thrive in. It’s setting the stage for hospitality where you can easily invite people over without having to clean for a week first!
My suggestion is to make time in your week to do these things and to organize your surroundings since it's a way to care for yourself - not because you think it's one more thing that you "should" be doing.
For me, it looks like a couple hours about twice a week where I do all my laundry, put stuff where it needs to go, and do a little planning for the next few days. For me, being organized doesn't mean everything is always magically tidy. It just means I have a system and a place to put things back into whenever I want or need to.... which is usually only twice a week!
My last and maybe the most important tip is to reevaluate where you find true comfort.
A lot of times, depression can be triggered after a time of loss. Sometimes 5 or 6 things happen in a short time frame and it just feels like too much. Sometimes the depression comes with grief because of losing a loved one, or sometimes it comes because of dashed hopes and expectations that you had for your life. Those are only 2 of many examples.
Whatever the cause is, the loss is real. Now you have a choice of how to respond to the loss. Whether it is to sleep, exercise, work, eat, or shop, you are naturally going to respond somehow.
I notice with my clients that often their retail therapy shopping also comes after disappointment or loss. They shop and buy stuff and it fulfills a need for a minute. It gives a dopamine hit. It either adds to clutter or adds to debt or both, but it rarely comforts the loss for more than a couple days, and then the cycle starts again.
What we are needing and looking for is comfort and God made us to find our comfort in Him. He is El-Shaddai, which means the many-breasted one, which refers to one who is all sufficient for every need we have. He nurtures us and comforts us by the Holy Spirit but we do have to lean in and tune in to receive it. We aren’t able to do that whenever we are shopping or eating or doing any other number of things to numb the pain.
So reevaluate where you find true comfort and then ask Him how you can receive His comfort in a deeper way. This has been an ongoing process for me. It's been a few years since I've even had revelation about the concept, and it's taking time for it to show up in my life in real and practical ways. I'm just saying that because it's a journey and there's not a magic prayer to pray that helps you receive God's comfort and make the negative actions & habits disappear overnight. I literally pray, "God help me receive Your comfort."
To recap, if you're struggling with depression and the clutter cycle is a part of it, here are 3 keys for you to consider and take action with:
If it's all too much and you want a listening ear and helping hand, please email or call me. I have these conversations with people and you can't shock or scare me with your depression and mess. I've been there too.
Ten Years Post-College & 10 Things I'm Learning as an Entrepreneur | Ann Arbor Detroit Michigan Waco Texas Professional Organizer
I learned this week what a difference that quality hair products make for curlyheads like myself! Simple lesson that took me since 2002 to learn how to stop using Walgreen's Tresemme mousse and upgrade to Joico Root Lifter foam! I feel like a new woman. 🙌🏻
This week I celebrated my ten year anniversary since college graduation, and it got me to thinking about other things I've learned (more like present tense: learnING) other than just the wonders of new mousse!
There is a running joke at Texas A&M University, my alma mater, that goes, "What do you call an Aggie 10 years after graduation?" ..... "Boss!"
Well I prefer "team leader" to the title of boss but the reality did hit me that this is true. My company has grown to the point of needing regular employees, and I have been envisioning a well-oiled team for some time now!
I started my first official business in 2009 making handmade greeting cards. A couple of years before that, I had my first organizing client who hired me to organize his home office and paperwork. Organizing others' homes and offices is what I do full time now. But I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. The first thing I remember selling is my hand drawn Taz and Tweety drawings on manila paper in 4th grade in Mrs. Bennett's classroom portable.
Well, a lot has changed since then. I've had some really fun experiences as an entrepreneur and some really hard ones! I thought I would recount 10 lessons as an entrepreneur in my 10 years out of college!
1) Environment Matters
I literally could not count how many rooms and houses and roommates I've had in the last ten years but I can remember each environment as either nourishing or toxic for my growth! The way that I organize and set up my own space is a huge difference maker for how I thrive! When I moved to Ann Arbor, my business coach said to be sure to pick a place where I could personally thrive and not just where I thought business would be good. She was right! I love the scenery, environment and people in Ann Arbor.
2) I Can Overcome Anything
Self talk on this topic is a game changer. There are some times I have doubted that I can overcome. I have faced some seemingly insurmountable obstacles in the last five years, and am actually facing one now. I can still palpably feel the instincts of past years of wanting to give up and give in. I graduated nursing school and failed the state boards seven times without ever becoming certified. That 7 year process of schooling and testing was incredibly challenging and humbling. I look at it now with thankfulness, because I realize I can overcome challenges and impossibilities because of the nature of who I am in Christ. This is a non-negotiable to believe whenever I am facing challenges as an entrepreneur and business owner. I do not question if I can overcome it, I simply ask how I am going to overcome it.
3) Investing in Myself is Worth It
The biggest growth for me in business came undoubtedly when I decided to invest several thousand dollars into coaching. Investing in a business coach is investing in yourself. It is saying "I'm serious. I'm going to do what it takes to make this work. I'm going to find someone who has something that I want and allow myself to be taught and guided by them." I would not be where I am in business without Erica Duran and Lisa Woodruff, as well as Juleigh Smith who has done some personal and Dream coaching with me for a year and a half.
4) I Can't Buy or Manufacture Confidence; I Can Only Receive It
Often people will say to me that they cannot believe how confident I am to take off across the country or world and to start a business and live my passion. Sometimes this is how I feel and other times I feel like what in the world am I doing? But it comes down to confidence in knowing I am in the path God has made for me; there is nowhere else I could feel peace or confidence in being right now other than where I am. I wish I could give you five easy steps to manufacture your own confidence. But it doesn't happen that way. My confidence cannot be based on my abilities or my performance at the end of the day. Confidence grows with time. It grows with hearing from clients and colleagues that what I said or did really resonated with them and made a difference for them. Even so, my confidence doesn't rest in the fact that I have something to offer and that someone thought it was good. At the very end of the day it rests in my identity as a child of God and that He has given me everything necessary to be a light in people's hearts and homes, regardless of how they respond. All a light does is shine! I thank God He has helped me find my gift and helped me share it with the world. This confidence can't be bought with a program or with a college degree of any kind. It can only be received. Thank you Juleigh for your coaching in how to receive this confidence from the Holy Spirit! I can't create it but I can step into it.
5) I am Not For Everyone and Everyone is Not for Me
I think I used to have the idea that I had something to offer to everyone and that everyone could like me and I could like them back. Guess what? Some clients are not a good fit- I do not gel with them and don't feel like the person that is meant to help them. Recently I turned down a very large potential client and it was a difficult process of saying no, but if I had not listened to my intuition and tried to forge ahead in attempt to help them, it actually would not be the best for them either. I'm learning that God's best means it is best from every angle. If I don't have peace from Him on a situation or decision, it means it's not only not best for me but it's not best for the other either, and that He has a best in mind that doesn't have to include me. That's very freeing.
6) Healing is a Process... and So Is Getting Organized
One myth of the healing process after loss or disappointment is that it can be finished. It's also a myth for getting organized - the idea that you will ever be completely finished being organized. Your life evolves and changes. Your life stages change. Your goals and ideals change over time as well. I have been learning the value of the process. Entrepreneurship is a pressure cooker for dealing with your issues. Everything you ever felt insecure about is now in your face and magnified. Every fear, question, ounce of resistance, and procrastination tendency is made evident to you when you're in business for yourself. These all come from a deeper source - we all know actions come from feelings which come from thoughts. When I feel something come up for me that signals that I am in need of deeper healing, now instead of being frustrated that, "haven't I already dealt with this?" I can actually look at it as an invitation to go deeper because healing is a process and not a destination. The reason I bring healing up in a list of entrepreneurship lessons is because personal wholeness is vital to business wholeness. How I think, act, and speak about business whether with clients, teammates, or contractors all stems from a place of wholeness or incompleteness from within. When I operate from incompleteness it is like I am trying to prove something to myself or to someone else. When I operate from wholeness I can be fully present with someone no matter the outcome of whether they like my suggestion or business posture. All this is very real for an entrepreneur who deals 1:1 with people in a relational way like I do in people's homes all day.
7) Be Myself Because No One Else Can!
I mentioned Erica Duran earlier - she was my first business coach and I really enjoyed working with her. She helped me to really own who I am as a businessperson and to let my personality and interests shine through my work and my website. Consequently, I hear from people literally every week that they love my site or my work- people who I have never met. How is this even possible? It is because I decided to start being fully who I am- and that means I love Jesus with all my heart and believe He is the hope of all hearts, so that is going to naturally show up in my work in client's homes. In my contract is an option for people to choose to start our sessions with prayer and worship. This is part of me being myself and offering who I am - no one else can offer quite what I can because we do not have the same experiences and story!
8) The People Around Me Make All the Difference
Oh boy. People are my heartbeat. The real reason I love traveling for business is the people I get to meet. During my time at Texas A&M I connected with some incredible people. I've taken at least three cross country trips to see them all, under the guise of business trips. Oh, I do business while I'm there but really the draw to certain locations for me is the people I love. One of my very biggest gifts in life is my network of friends. I have been so fortunate to meet people who I deeply admire and truly consider to be heroes. Surrounding myself with these people has kept me inspired and feeling loved and believed in, even when I couldn't imagine how to keep going. I love my peeps. The people surrounding me in business also matters. I have been so lucky to connect with Lisa Woodruff who has the podcast Organize365. Going through her mentorship and VIP Day has helped set the course for decisions I'm making for my business that will impact years to come. She is a powerhouse of a strategy woman who blows my mind with her insights!
9) Finding What I Love Takes Work
Finding what I am passionate enough about to do full-time literally took ten years. All the odd jobs and seasonal gigs I've done up until this point have each uniquely informed the work I do now. You can look at my resume and consider me unemployable. I really don't care. Oddly juxtaposed to being unemployable is that I am Jane of all trades and I just figure stuff out. Being an entrepreneur means I figure out how to make a website, do graphic design, register an LLC, write a contract, market myself and my services and so much more. If I want to know how to do something I teach myself by asking people and scouring books and the internet. Everything is figureoutable. There is not one string of experiences that qualify me to be a professional organizer, but I am awesome at what I do because of all my unique experiences. In ten short years I have moved cross country three times which in itself qualifies me to be a relocation specialist - I have been there and done that, so I can tell you what to do. I have accumulated and downsized, and I know the ins and outs of how to make these decisions because I've done it first hand. My background in nursing and caregiving has taught me how to come alongside someone in the midst of their situation and offer hope and solutions, but mostly support. I could go on about how my jobs and education and experiences have informed my current work, but at the same time it did not come easily. It was not a clear path. Finding your life's work is not going to be clear cut most of the time. More often than not, it emerges as you are doing other work.
10) Failure Isn't Final
I'll save the long and sad stories for another day about failure and setbacks. What I've learned through all the setbacks is that failure is merely feedback. It is something that did not work. Rather than it being a red mark of ineptitude, it is a signal to try something else. It's not a signal to give up. Winston Churchill said that it is the courage to continue that counts.
P.S. Stay tuned to my next adventures and lessons by subscribing here: www.hollysoutherland.com/subscribe. You'll receive my free mini e-book on organizing, and stay in the loop on upcoming Sunday Basket (TM) workshops in Waco, Ann Arbor, and wherever else I travel! Stay tuned on instagram and Facebook for stories and inspiration.
P.P.S. Are you also an entrepreneur who is ready to invest in yourself? Are you ready for your own VIP Day? What if you could get major parts of your house organized in 4 days and have vision and a plan for continuing it? I travel the country helping entrepreneurs get their own environments in order to set them up for the best success. Whether you are a home-based direct sales business, an author with a start-up writing gig, or a high level business coaching executive - I help you strategize by how to get your house in order quickly by setting up the key spaces & systems for you to thrive. Time to stop procrastinating getting organized so you can live your dream! See my travel packages and inquire when I'll be in a place near you. I'll be in Texas all summer!
Fellow professional organizers or wannabe organizers!
May 19 at 10pm EST is the cutoff for my website special!! Click on the big pink box to learn more about how I can help you get a simple web presence set up within weeks so you can pursue your dream.
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Beautiful, Messy Process | Waco Home Organizer/ Ann Arbor Professional Organizer/ Dallas Detroit Metro Professional Organizing
Before & After.
I feel like our culture glorifies the 'after.' It's what grabs attention. That wow factor is what we go for!
Try posting an insta photo of your messy office. See what kind of reactions you get! People don't know what to do with it! They're like.... Do I "like" this? Is that rude to like someone's mess? I mean, it does let me off the hook and make me feel better about mahself a lil bit.... Ima just keep on scrolling..."
Then try posting a photo of a well-staged, brightly lit, styled desk with a desktop Mac and some stripes and gold for good style measure. It took you about 72 tries and standing on top of a chair to get that shot, and you post it and wait for the likes & comments to flow in.
It's not hard to tell that people are drawn to beauty. We're not always sure how to deal with the mess. Sometimes, if we're honest, we even feel that the mess means something *about* us. Like somehow we are flawed. Like somehow everyone else got different genes that help them be pretty and neat and organized and healthy, and we got stuck on the struggle bus.
Let me pose this: What does beauty mean to you?
Do you find beauty in your process?
Do you find it easier to celebrate a friend's progress on her journey but difficult to find the beauty in your own journey, right in the middle of it?
Are you waiting for that glorified after result, also as if it would *mean* something about you? That somehow your worth is now confirmed, your work ethic assured, your discipline and goal setting strategy on point?
I encourage you to look in the mirror and find something beautiful about your body, in between the stretch marks.
I encourage you to look in your messy office and find something beautiful, even if it is buried under a pile of papers.
Bring that beauty to the forefront and let it inspire you forward. Rather than being inspired by the end goal and perfection, what if we tried being inspired by the beauty of the process? What would that look like for you?
What kind of hope would that bring to your heart and your home? What if you could stop being at war with yourself for not having arrived at that *thing* you've been wishing upon a star about for too many nights to count?
What if you enjoyed today for the beauty that it has, right in the middle of the process?
P.S. Do you crave order & beauty? But do you feel at war with yourself about the mess in your home? Feel like you just can't get it together? Pinterest has all these unattainable image goals and you'd be happy to just be able to keep your bills paid and not lose your keys every other day. Request your free phone consultation in the Waco, TX or Ann Arbor, MI areas for compassionate and professional organizing help with the areas that matter to you to beautify, no matter where you are in the process.
How I Travel & What I Wear :: Minimalist Fashion Capsule Travel Wardrobe Philosophy | Ann Arbor Detroit Metro Professional Home Organizer
As an entrepreneur, my decisions are many. What do I post on social media? What project shall I work on first? How will I get connected with my next client? What sort of goal do I set for myself today?
Being decisive is a strong point for me, and it's one way I help my clients - how to make decisions! Even so, I try not to add unnecessary decisions to my life. Questions such as these run through my head every day, so I take every opportunity I can to simplify. Why waste my creative energy on trivial decisions when I need to save it for my business?
One such daily decision is my wardrobe. What do I wear today? Does this top match the pants I have on?
Although this isn’t a complicated choice, I still find myself using creative energy to decide. In light of this, I started simplifying.
A couple of years ago I started moving toward minimalism in my wardrobe. When my travel life picked up last year, I decided to try wearing the same base outfit in order to eliminate one decision from my day and in order to simplify packing.
I picked out my favorite pair of comfortable black leggings, bought several pairs, selected a classic long black V-neck top from Target, and then purchased different pieces to mix and match on top.
Now when I wake up in the morning, I reach for my leggings, black top and then select one accessory out of my drawer such as a necklace or a scarf.
This base outfit has become my sort of work “uniform”, a concept adopted by the late Steve Jobs, among others. I took this idea and made it my own by adding and accessorizing my uniform depending on whether I want to dress it up or down.
I have 2 floral kimonos, 1 sweater type shawl, 1 denim chambray button up, half a dozen infinity scarves, vests of various kinds, and other items that layer nicely on top of my classic leggings and v-neck combo.
As for shoes, I typically wear my gold Aetrex Erica ballet flats every day, weather permitting. I also bought them in red and black. :) I have a couple of pairs of ankle booties, a pair of Steve Madden Candence leather boots that are going on season 6 and are so "loved" but I can't imagine parting with them, and some gold Naot toe sandals.
Another benefit to this method and style is comfort, especially because I travel often- about 50% of the time I am in another place other than my bed, and I need a simple, predictable method that doesn't change every time. Nobody wants to wear tight jeans on a plane, not to mention while I'm sitting on someone's kitchen floor organizing their lower cabinets.
If you’re interested in creating your own base layer like mine, think out of the box for something simple that might work for you.
I hope these photos give you some inspiration to simplify while still allowing some room for creativity and spontaneity. On a recent trip to California, the lovely Kayla Illies, an Oceanside/San Diego based photographer, captured these photos for me. We had so much fun chatting about our common love for travel and trotting down to the San Clemente beach at sunset to chase the sun! Visit her site to view her work!
This uniform method has worked wonders for me as I’ve learned to save my creative energy for the decisions that matter most. I never spend more than one minute wondering what to wear!
visit related link: 8 Reasons Successful People Are Choosing to Wear the Same Thing Every Day
P.S. Are you looking to simplify? Is your closet overrun with only half-loved stuff?
I would love to help you come up with a downsizing and/ or organizing plan.
Apply for your free phone consult here, and subscribe to my email list to follow along with my travel adventures.
Ann Arbor Women's Workshop Series :: March 2017 | Ann Arbor Detroit Metro Professional Home Organizer
Last November I reached a point of desperation. Although I wanted to make my health a priority, I just couldn’t get it together. So I did a bit of research and reached out to a health coach in my area for help. And what I was found was both motivation and a like-minded friend.
After my initial consultation with Liza, I felt heard, empowered and motivated to start making more time for myself. I quickly realized that though our businesses are different, our approaches are similar and our values alike.
Liza patiently listened as I brought her into my weekly routine goals and high hopes for consistent grocery shopping, meal prepping, and exercising. I even got to the point of putting these things on my calendar but still wouldn't follow through with the appointments with myself.
After a few minutes she paused and asked me ever-so-gently, “are you cancellable?” I stopped and thought for a moment. If I wouldn’t cancel on a client, why would I cancel on myself?
I recognized then and there that it was a matter of valuing myself, loving myself, and caring for myself. I was quick to care for others' needs and dreams, but was lagging behind on my own. If caring for myself doesn't show up on my calendar, I'm kidding myself. That can be in the form of home upkeep, health choices, social life or more. In the effort to grow my business and increase in areas that are fun & exciting to me, I had lost some basic priorities along the way and needed that nudge to remember how valuable I am, too. Valuable enough that I will show up for myself!
Through my relationship with Liza, I’ve started practicing taking care of myself in new ways, and I realized many of our clients wrestle with this same struggle. In an attempt to get our jobs done, our to-do lists checked off and our people taken care of, oftentimes we neglect ourselves. This can lead to a martyrdom mentality, in which we become so focused on what we’re doing for others that we ignore ourselves. This is both dangerous and unhealthy.
I’ve found the more I take care of myself, the more I have to give (and that’s ultimately what I want to be about). Taking care of your physical body and home helps create space to better serve those around us. Oftentimes we must begin by stepping back to identify where we want to go, or in other words, our end goal.
Next weekend will begin what we are calling the Month of Margin. I’m co-hosting a three-part workshop series with health coach, Liza Baker and this is precisely where we will begin. Our hope is to facilitate honest conversations to empower each other to take care of our homes and our bodies. Through our community coaching approach, we will help you identify how you feel now and how you want to feel tomorrow.
After identifying our long term goals, we will spend our time working through three steps - declutter, organize, and increase productivity. In the end, whatever system you have in place to facilitate productivity in your home and health should exist to serve you, not the other way around. Our goal is to equip you with the knowledge and tools necessary to create a plan (and schedule) that works best for you.
For more information, visit the event page on Liza’s website and don’t be afraid to reach out with questions or comments. Participants can enroll in one, two or three workshops, although those who attend all three will be entered to win a grand prize. Think makeover - for your kitchen, your meal plan, and your life.
I hope you will consider joining us next month as we journey together toward a healthy body and home.
Welcome to February: the month all those New Year's resolutions are put to the test. It’s easy to set goals and dream of being or doing better, but living it out is a different story. Anyone else get overwhelmed thinking of everything on your plate, much less the list of goals you set last month? You’re not alone.
A couple of years ago I got tired of setting goals and not reaching them, so much so that I determined to change. It all stemmed from a conversation with a friend and leader in my church who asked me about a project I was working on. I had an exciting and compelling vision, yet I was nearly a year and a half in and still hadn’t completed the task. Anyone else relate?
I realized I needed to make some adjustments in order to get from A to Z. If you’re like me, it’s easy to dream of where I want to end up, and even where to begin, but when it comes to steps B - Y, I’m often at a loss. I love starting exciting new things, and I love the satisfaction of finishing those projects, but the messy middle has been a deep struggle for me.
After that defining conversation with my friend, I knew I needed both community and accountability to meet my goal. I also needed some sort of tracking system for myself and for others to check in with and for me.
My first step was to download the Google Calendar app and schedule a meeting with myself on a regular basis. Next I created a Google form to automatically send myself before these pre-scheduled meetings so I would have the information I needed to succeed. In this form, I asked myself questions in four different areas of focus, including my finances, my business growth, my health, and my own self-care and rest.
Because I knew I wanted to move forward in these areas, I included direct questions aimed at helping me carefully note my progress and identify if I was off track anywhere. I also invited a friend and coach into the process with me and selected the option to send my answers to her each time I fill out the form. Things were getting real, real quick. Yet I knew I wouldn’t actually follow through unless I had the accountability with myself and with others in place.
Now I have a calendar appointment with myself set up in my Google Calendar every ten days on the 10th, 20th, and 30th of each month. Within the notes section of these appointments, I include the link to my form, and I set up an email notification on the day before as a reminder. I check in twice a month with my accountability partner and coach and intentionally look for ways to invite my community into my process with me by being vulnerable and open. This 10-day rhythm and check-in system has been a game changer for me as I seek to master the messy middle steps. A week often feels too often to track goals, and a month feels too long, so I was inspired to create 10-day rhythms.
As an entrepreneur and business owner, it's easy to get pulled in various directions by new ideas, new initiatives, and the urgent things. When that happens, the important things can fall to the side and be altogether ignored. I listed what things as a business owner that I want to do within every 10-day time frame:
My check-in form has spaces for me to look back over the past 10 days, find what went well in those areas, and also find where I need to step it up in the coming 10 days. If any of these areas go too far above or below those parameters, I get too wiped out (working too much), or I get too lax (not gaining new business).
If you’re in a similar place and need some help getting organized or motivated, consider creating a check in system for yourself. Download the Google Calendar app and set up an appointment with yourself. List the areas you want to focus on and invite a friend or two to hold you accountable. Consider creating a Google form listing questions in the areas you identify and protect your time to assess your progress and make adjustments to move forward. The cool thing is that the form auto-populates into a spreadsheet so you are easily able to view progress at a glance. When you succeed, find a meaningful way to celebrate your wins! I hit my goals for January and celebrated by buying a candle and some bath salts & goodies. 😍
In the end, it’s important to create a system that works for you. The ten day check in system has changed my business, productivity levels, and the way I live my life. It’s freed me to be able to do the things I really want to do, rather than simply responding to my feelings. And perhaps most of all, it’s given me the confidence I need to face the messy middle and finally reach the end goals I’ve dreamed of meeting.
You may have noticed my "rest day" and "self-care day" planned into every 10 days. This is one way that I create margin and breathing room in my life. If you live in Ann Arbor and are struggling with finding time for yourself, consider joining us for a workshop series in March. I am co-hosting a 3-week series with a phenomenal health coach in town named Liza Baker. She is amazing! See all event details here.
Lest you think I'm actually talking about nutrients, because I did in fact devour half a bag of Trader Joe's Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramel Balls today...
Digression aside, I'm not speaking of macronutrients and micronutrients (though the MyFitnessPal Premium version of the app has been helping me track my specific daily macro goals so far in 2017).
I'm speaking of my approach to organizing and how I begin with the macro (big picture) and work down to the micro (small details). A common trap I see with my clients is thinking either too big picture or too much into the details. It takes a delicate dance of both to execute successful home organization in any area.
I shared on a Facebook group tonight called Ann Arbor Mamas Network about pantries which I've grown to recently love. I hope you gain something from my insight into my macro/micro approach in this area of the home.
Here's a pantry I worked on yesterday that is in progress... about 3/4 of the way through.
Here is my basic approach to a pantry!
1) First step: throw out expired food and be ruthless with dates and things you know you don't want to eat again, or don't look appetizing. ;) This creates space.
2) Pull out the majority of what's left in the pantry onto a nearby table, bench, etc. Separate it into basic categories - grains, cans, baking, snacks to name a few. I call that the "macro" organizing. Big picture categories. Why do I suggest taking stuff out? A few reasons...
a) you've probably been looking at stuff in the same spot for so long that you no longer see it. Moving it forces you to take each item in your hand and make a decision about it.
b) it's your chance to wipe those grody shelves down or replace shelf liner!
c) you have a prime opportunity to remove unhealthful items and call a local health coach like Liza Baker to Flip Your Kitchen.
3) Next comes the micro organizing. Determine which shelf/area is for grains and separate them into noodles, rice, and other mixes. Determine which shelf/area is for baking and keep that stuff together. Determine among the cans how you can further organize - in this pantry, for example, I separated into corn, beans, and tomato products.
Make temporary "labels" with post-it notes and try out that system for a week before you commit to buying products, labeling with a label-maker, and determining permanent "homes." See how it flows and if you like it!
When I go back to this client this weekend, we will have the containers purchased and fit these categories into things that can be contained so the mess doesn't spread.... At least not as easily! ;)
These are some baskets she already had, and we are ordering about a dozen more.
I ❤️ doing pantries!!!
Last fall I determined to turn my phone off for a week. A whole week! I was a bit nervous to try it, but I was constantly drawn in by social media, flashy apps, and my Wunderlists, and I knew my mind and heart were being affected. I needed a break, and more than that, I needed to create some space.
I often ask why people want to get organized when they inquire about my services as a professional organizer. There are so many ways people answer that, but I’ve found that deep down, everyone is looking to be more productive in their homes and in their lives. Clutter stands in the way of becoming the version of themselves they know they can be.
Oftentimes this productivity begins by making space. For example, when I help organize a closet, I often begin by taking everything out. Does it sound a little counter-intuitive? The first time I suggest this approach to a new client, there’s inevitably a mini freak-out moment. Or... in walks the spouse who, upon seeing piles on the bed and floor, comments in jest, “I thought you were here to make things better!”
I thought making space and increasing productivity were counter-intuitive too, until I realized I was idolizing productivity. It began subtly, but eventually I knew I had a problem when I couldn’t even bring myself to take a day of rest. I’d work through my breaks just so I could move to the next thing, but I was missing an important step.
If I’m not careful, I start placing my value in my work and productivity. No matter how hard I work or how many things I cross off my list, I still feel unsatisfied if I’m not resting and making space first. When I turned off my phone for a whole week last fall, I started thinking about my value in a new light.
I began by getting quiet, allowing my mind to slow, and asking God to speak to me. I knew I was valuable, yet my actions suggested I was hustling to prove myself, rather than resting in my identity. I meditated on the truth that I am loved by God no matter what projects I complete or how efficiently I work. God’s intention is to free us from the things we idolize so that we live for what we’re really made for. Although tempting to depend on my own strength and efforts, it’s much lighter (and easier) to depend on Him.
Whenever I find myself flying so fast that I forget to make space for my heart to be at rest and remember who I am, I know it’s time to take a step back. One thing that has helped me is the rule of three. I pick 3 tasks/priorities each day to accomplish, and no more. I also do not schedule more than 3 things in a day. Whether that is brunch with a friend, seeing a client, and grocery shopping, or whether it is 3 appointments in a day, I’ve learned over time that 3 is my happy place which usually still allows margin.
Another thing that helps me is to check in with my heart regularly through journaling each night before I go to bed. I often do this on my phone through the DayOne journal app. I typically journal my responses in the eight different areas I outlined in my Forward Motion format, and one of those areas is taking time to listen for a few moments as I ask God what He wants to say to me that day.
Sometimes it’s an encouragement, other times it’s a soft correction. This little practice has created just enough space for me to remember my value and keep my heart tender to His opinion of my identity. If I sense Him saying I’m going too hard, I open my Google calendar app and look for a time to schedule in a time of rest soon.
Rest looks different for each person. During my scheduled rest time, I shutdown my work e-mail and reference a list of things that refresh me, none of which are productive or work-related. I created what I like to call a self-care menu which lists a dozen things I like to do to relax. This includes things like getting a pedicure or visiting the Farmer’s Market. I love working with my hands, but if I’m not careful, my day off is filled with active things and I’m not resting my mind or my body.
Rejecting the idol of productivity and creating space to find our true value takes practice and time. This is still a journey for me, yet each day I’m learning the needs of my heart more and more as I listen and respond.
Try taking some time away from your phone or internet and scheduling in a time of rest this week. Rest in the knowledge that you are loved today no matter what you accomplish. Let us create the space to listen and respond together and learn to reach our goals in a healthy and productive way. You may be surprised how a rested spirit fuels your life in an even greater way!
here's a thought process, a vulnerable one at that, which has been mulling around in my head this month.
do you ever make resolutions to get organized and stay organized? or maybe your kryptonite isn't clutter, but sugar, or social media, or shopping, or whatever you tell yourself every December that on January 1 will be "no more!"
for me it's often health related. I'll exercise and get on a rhythm finally... despite the fact I don't enjoy it... Or I'll finally cut out the sugar and gluten to drop the weight I've gained... Or I'll implement that latest strategy that caught my attention that seems like a plausible solution to a life pattern of chaos.
so as a coach of sorts, I'm often on the hunt for awareness of how to identify why we do what we do, because awareness of our behavior & triggers is one of the first steps to making change.
I've had a deeply discouraging month with my own health journey. I actually cried when I saw some photos of myself. The mirror has not been my friend lately, nor has any shirt that buttons up. And what does health have to do with organizing? hold your horses...
I met with a health coach recently in Ann Arbor. she was delightful. a few questions she posed throughout our convo helped me to see things differently. this meeting came on the heels of another conversation with my Lifegroup leaders from church who shared an area of my life that needs some attention.
did you know that fear, perfectionism, shame, over-planning, control freak tendencies, defensiveness, hyper sensitivity, type A flesh patterns and much more can all stem from a spirit of rejection?
a spirit of rejection is something my leaders spoke with me about in depth. yes, I trace back experiences of rejection to a young age but even more recently in the last few years, and I can point to a breakup that triggered weight gain for the next two years. It wasn't the breakup, it was the accompanying sense of rejection that probably played a role in my spinning downward.
no wonder I can't make myself a system of healthy eating and exercising and stick to it! The wound of rejection still needs to be healed (even deeper) where I'm operating from love and wholeness instead of the search for perfection - whether it's perfect body image, perfect eating plan, perfect exercise plan, etc. All of these are things I have wanted. Do you see how the perfection comes from the rejection? it's that yearning to feel "okay" that is projected outwardly as if things being lined up externally will bring validation.
one reason I bring this up is because of a recent client. there are lifelong patterns of disorganization at play. I left for a month after working together and came back to find a big mess. Yes, we had discussed the exact plan for what to do with mail and papers when they came in. It was printed and posted on the fridge and the counter. No, they were not followed for more than two weeks.
As I probed a little deeper, I discovered that at the two week mark, this client experienced a breakup. At that point it became a non-priority to keep up with the system. The feeling of rejection was a trigger that got this client off of the system.
even though the decision had been made previously to get organized, in the moment it didn't matter anymore because the negative feelings were driving decisions. It probably even happened at a level my client wasn't aware of. I felt empathetic because I realize that I do this with my healthy eating routines whenever something like a breakup or huge, difficult transition comes up.
What I noticed is that disorganization and "letting things go" is a coping mechanism. it's a lack of self care that shows up in one's environment. If you've watched Hoarders you might recognize that when a hoarder gets to the bottom of their problem it often started after a period of loss. The pressure on the inside is strong. Mentally they may even know what they "should" be doing, but the motivation flees.
Another way to view it is like driving a car when the alignment is off. Let's say that an experience of loss or rejection has gotten you tangled up and off kilter, and it has seeped into your filter of viewing the world. When you try and drive the car you are fighting not just the steering wheel but the internal alignment of the car, and it makes it difficult to get to your destination.
no perfect system can heal you. No professional organizer can fix you. No behavioral therapy can alter a lifelong pattern unless it is healed from the inside out.
It's deep stuff, y'all. Sometimes it's deep stuff that's uncomfortable to talk about. You don't even want to look a person in the eye when they bring up an observation or shortcoming. I know. I've been there.
I googled the connection between rejection and food issues and came up with this brilliant article which has insights that I think can be applied across disciplines, not just food.
but there actually is hope. The cross of Christ covers all of our shame and rejection issues. My word for 2017 is "acceptance in the Beloved." Until we are convinced of our loveability in God's eyes, evidenced by the value of the Son He sent to die in our place, we won't thrive.
So I'll be giving attention to the spirit of rejection and being accepted in the Beloved as the antidote to my weight and health issues that have been ongoing. I'm looking into finding the right kind of support, community, and accountability to help make my goals a reality. But I can't out-exercise my wound. And you can't out-organize yours.
And no matter how determined you are to have a Pinterest perfect organized home, if you don't identify and deal with the underlying thought patterns and yes, even wounds at times, it's going to be like climbing uphill in the snow to achieve the goals for your home.
I have gained some huge clues this year for helping myself and others in their homes. If you're looking for someone on your support team to an organized and peaceful home, consider signing up for your complimentary strategy session on my phone consult page.
to a peaceful 2017,
I'm excited to share my newest creation with you!
It is a printable 5-day planner sheet to daily routines. Within the last year I have been inspired to make changes in my life in the area of having daily mindsets & habits that are moving me forward in life. I'm not talking about dishes, laundry, and cleaning routines. It's in the way of creating thinking patterns that sets me up for success.
I have tried planners upon planners and none of them really work for me in the way that my mind works. I have been learning a lot and scheming to create my own planner layout that will support my goals, daily victories, gratitude habit, and choosing daily priorities. This layout is a culmination of several inspiration sources and influences, which you'll read about inside.
I usually do about half of these on any given day, kind of whenever I remember to, but have created a format that will support me in doing all of them regularly. Feel free to ask any questions about it when you download it, and let me know how it works for you!
Subscribe here and you'll receive the download!
A city of people I love and people I've yet to meet and love! 😉
This week I am looking forward to heading north again. I have been relishing sleeping in my own bed until noon each day after a very full 3-week work trip to Michigan. I'll enjoy one more day of that, then have breakfast with another local Waco organizer on Tuesday, head to Dallas for the night to be with friends and family, spend a couple days in Oklahoma and then the final stop will be Kansas City where I'm attending a personal retreat for a week & SUPER looking forward to it.
Wednesday morning bright and early I'll head out for Ooooklahoma where the wind blows sweeping through the plains!! Have you ever met a kindred spirit? I get to stay with one of my kindreds, Aubrey Ballard of TheDandyLiar fashion blog. Also check out her boomin Instagram.
ANYWAYS funny story: we met four years ago at her garage sale in Dallas before she moved to LA. We both lived in the same part of Dallas for a time. My roommate Evie called me one day and said, "I'm at a garage sale and I think you'd LOVE her stuff." She gave me the address and she was right. Aubs has great fashion sense - now if only I could fit into her teeny tiny clothes 🤔 #gotsomeworktodo
We talked for at least an hour or two at her garage sale! We exchanged numbers and went to breakfast a few days later before she left for her cross country move. We have kept in touch these past four years and I love sending her ridiculous texts.... She just gets me. It's an INFJ thing I think. 😉
Now I get to see her again in the OKC area this week. It's a party in my heart.
I'll be available Wednesday and Thursday for any organizing Hail Marys you may need before the weekend.
Mt. Everest of laundry?
Home office need a makeover?
Need to declutter your closet or garage?
Nodding your head yes?
Then my Get Unstuck package would be perfect for you: 4 hours start to finish.... not TOO torturous, especially if I bring some jams along. 📻
Check out the package details here and then sign up for your free phone consult so we can set up a time.
If this Wednesday and Thursday don't work for you, get in touch anyway and we can possibly work something out for my journey back down south a week or so later.
Looking forward to the O•K•C!!
How Nacho Libre Changed My Life | Waco Dallas Metro/ Ann Arbor Detroit Metro Professional Home Organizer
When I first watched Nacho Libre in 2007 with a group of people, I had just graduated from A&M. I took a job in college ministry and had enrolled for seminary so I could go into full time ministry or do a dual grad degree for international missions and intercultural communication (undergrad was Speech Communication). I started going down that path for at least a year.
Deep down from as early as 4th grade, I remember wanting to run a business - a craft shop in particular. Maybe because of limited thinking or influences during my Jr & Sr years of college, I (subconsciously) came to believe that ministry and missions were a more "worthwhile" pursuit than running a business, much less a craft shop. Certainly more spiritual.
After a year in ministry I realized God created me to work with my hands, and it is a special gift He gave me that I wasn't using. When I watched Nacho Libre and saw his desire to wrestle, but how people in the movie would tell him that basically it's unspiritual ("It's in the Bible not to wrestle your neighbor"), I could relate.
And so he would hide that part of his life and do his priestly duties, while dreaming of something else. He wanted to wrestle and earn money so he could feed the kids at the orphanage something more than the yucky soup they ate. At the beginning of the movie one kid commented, "Why can't we ever have like a salad or something?" and if you notice later on, the first meal Nacho serves the kids after winning money from wrestling is a big salad. :)
It was a learning moment for me that the dreams and "unspiritual passions" I had like crafts were not just silly but could be used for more. They could be strategic and influential in advancing God's Kingdom.
Soon after in 2009, I started my first business which was a handmade craft & greeting card business. I did that for several years before a trademark issue where I had to close it down and that was all before becoming a full time professional organizer like I am now. I feel so much more genuine and purposeful in helping people with their messes and encouraging their spirits with truths of the gospel than I do just being a talking mouth. There's room and need for both, but I've found my role & gift to be more hands-on.
I trace back some of my foundational thinking about entrepreneurship to the moment I watched that movie and had a group conversation about it afterwards. That's how Nacho Libre changed my life. 😉 As it turned out, he does "know a butt load of crap about the gospel." 😂
If you are in the spiritual searching stage and know that your work and passion are connected but are not sure how, check out my coaching package for spiritual, creative entrepreneurs. We spend a month and a few calls/video chats discovering together what God might have for you.
In addition to the info on my About page, I'd like to share more of the backstory from the heart... for those of you, like me, who enjoy the details!
Back in 2008, my friend Kelly Woods said she had organized for other people to save up money for international trips she took. I was saving for a trip and sent out a newsletter saying I'd organize whatever they'd been putting off, if they'd make a donation to my trip account. A few people responded. Over the next few years, people continued to contact me here and there for projects, which I loved doing.
In Fall 2012, I took a 40 day cross-country road trip to organize for others immediately following a job loss and the closing of my handmade greeting card business. Both were unexpected and I was in a challenging spot in life. It was a wide open time of finding out what was next.
After losing my job + business in the same week, I prayed, "Lord, what's next?" He brought to my mind, "Clean out your closet." Not what I was wanting or expecting to hear, but I did just that. That spun into a massive month of de-cluttering and de-owning. I went into research mode on these topics, learned a lot about minimalism, discovered writers I still follow such as Joshua Becker and Courtney Carver, and still utilize many principles of what I learned in that time. I dreamed up this cross-country trip & decided to put my (freshly pared way down) stuff in storage and go for it.
During this road trip I visited families and individuals throughout my network and offered to serve whatever needs they had in their homes, in exchange for a place to stay. I am part of a church planting network that has churches all over the U.S. and world. With some help, I reached out to the pastors and staff in Oklahoma, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Missouri. I also re-connected with several childhood and Aggie friends who had since moved to the Midwest. I wanted to be a blessing to them. I learned that I could have sat in my loss and wallowed in it, or kept moving and serving. I found a lot more joy in finding a need to help meet than in sitting with my journal in a coffee shop trying to figure out life.
The families I encountered on this trip put me up to all sorts of things from organizing a basement, to touch-up painting for a home going on the market, to turning a closet into an office. I vividly remember standing outside Amy Gulley's house in Wheaton, painting the window frames, and hearing God speak to my soul, "I'm priming the pump for what is to come." I felt He was getting me ready for something, but I didn't know what yet. All I knew was that two of my sources of income and livelihood had collapsed at once. He had to be up to something.
I found two of my true passions to be organizing and decorating since it's what I chose to do for free, or even at cost to myself, when I had the time. It energized me and gave me life -- Nothing has changed! ;) I had been organizing for others for several years at that point, always finding great joy in it, but was so focused on nursing school that I did not pursue it unless a friend or family asked for my help. Also, I wasn't really aware that people like professional organizers existed that did this full-time as a profession.
My background is in nursing and taking care of individuals with special needs. However, over a period of a few years, my dreams of being a nurse came to a close as I attempted NCLEX (state boards) multiple times and remained unsuccessful during the allotted time frame. This nursing journey, combined with other concurrent life factors surrounding it such as break-ups and big moves, has led to many self-discoveries, hard questions, and days I couldn't get out of bed because of the grief & depression.
Ultimately it has given me greater understanding of others in hard places filled with grief. Some grief is due to loss of a person, a job, or something tangible. Other grief is due to loss of dreams, hope, and expectations left unfulfilled. It's all grief and it's all hard, and I've been learning not to judge another's grief on whether it is tangible or intangible.
There I was looking back at 7 years of hard (and at times very dirty) work, the investment of paying for a nursing education with no way to reconcile it, and six letters in the mail that I had failed yet again. I remember sitting on my red couch and looking at the mess in my room and quite frankly wanting to quit at life. It was too overwhelming. I wanted to wave a magic wand and make all the STUFF disappear. I know many of my clients feel the same way. "Just take it all away!" they say. I didn't know what to do or where to go, who to call, or even what to pray.
I find that for many, organizing challenges often come during grief, loss, or life difficulties where it just feels like too much to keep it all together. I completely get it. It's one reason I greatly empathize with disorganized people, because I know the mess comes from a deeper place that is sometimes too hard to even put into words.
Other times, that may not be the case, but life is bustling and full, and simple sustainable systems are needed. I'm eager to help both kinds of people! With my clients, we can talk about the limiting mindsets and deep stuff (judgment free), you can do as others have done and invite me into your therapy sessions, or we can stick to small talk and music blaring while cleaning out the garage -- it's up to you; I'm game for both.
Being an organizer doesn't make me exempt from my own set of limiting beliefs around stuff & possessions; in fact it makes me more aware of my thoughts and habits surrounding material things. For example, though I love organizing, my natural tendency is to be an accumulator, so I still have to work hard to maintain simplicity, order and beauty! Therefore... knowing these weaknesses myself... I never judge when walking into someone's home, no matter how messy or unorganized!
I joke that I vacillate between minimalist and hoarder. I crave the simplicity of having only what I use and love, but for various reasons, stuff keeps making its way into my home (gathering creative project supplies, selling stuff for myself and others, and found items with an un-foretold future home), so I have to keep at it to keep the hoard at bay! 😂
My personal solution has been having my bed + bath + living areas on more of the minimal side, where everything has a place and is tucked away. Then, I choose to have only two spaces where extra items can gather (garage + craft room), and go through those spaces at least once a quarter to move out what is no longer meaningful or useful.
I have such a passion for investing in and maintaining my own space, knowing what a difference it makes for my soul. It is an honor for me to be invited into others' homes to coach through this process as well. In 2014 and early 2015 I decided I wanted to pursue organizing more full time. I dealt heavily with depression for some of that time, so my capacity was more limited than usual, but eventually, with God's help, I rose out of the ashes even stronger and more resolved than before.
In early 2015, my friend and former roommate Kat, who is a DJ, called one day saying she and her co-host wanted to interview a professional organizer on the radio to give tips for getting organized in the new year. Something clicked within me and I realized I had something to offer, even in the midst of feeling so low. Again, having a chance to serve or help another person saved me from the inward whirlpool spin downwards.
Another thing that kept me sane was creating an oasis of a bedroom. Environments can be such a reflection of a person's mind. Although my mind wasn't in the best place, I could work on the environment and let it affect me positively, and it did. It's part of the frustration that many of my clients feel as well - their mind feels crazy because their space is crazy.
In Feb 2015 I moved into a house of my own and had a great time decorating it and making it a haven. God knew I needed an outlet for creativity and hospitality. It worked wonders for me simply having a blank canvas on which to create. In June 2016 I moved out of that house, through another unexpected twist of events, and downsized to be able to focus on my business and being able to travel more.
This brings us to August 2016 where organizing (and the occasional decorating client) is currently my full-time pursuit. It is my joy, my passion, and the ministry where God has me, where He can use me to help breathe life back into people. One of the best lines from a client was recently when after touring her cluttered home she said, "I know I've started well and with the right person. You haven't made me feel crazy yet."
A month later she made mounds of progress and expressed deep thanks for the companionship, fun we had, practical ideas and homework I gave her, spiritual conversations and prayers, and overall being able to enjoy her space again after letting it go for over a year after her parents passed away. It's why I do what I do.
Thanks for taking time to stop by & read a bit more about me and my story. Feel free to reach out if part of my story resonates with you, or let me know what area is coming to your mind that you want to organize together!
Today I was honored to be on Bryan/ College Station's Peace 107.7FM station giving some organizing tips. If you missed it, you can listen online here.
For the written version, check out this blog post with four great tips that I use on a regular basis.
Because I love Aggieland so much... I don't mind the hop, skip and jump from Waco to organize for people in the College Station area. Check out my services page, email me if you have any questions, and let's make this your best year yet!
It's that time of year to get organized! To help put your goals in action, I'm offering 2 January specials. You pick! :)
1) Like and share this Facebook page for $50 off your first 3-hour session.
2) Like and share this Facebook page for a chance to win a $50 gift card to your choice of The Container Store, Office Max, or IKEA!
Comment below when you do and which option you pick!
If you pick #1... No need to wait, go ahead and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a consultation, and use that $50 you saved to treat yo'self!
Take these simple steps to start 2015 with confidence!
I am one of those night owl types who gains a second wind around 11pm, so you better believe I was up on New Year's Eve until the wee hours organizing my pantry, closet, desk, and files. Just can't describe that feeling of waking up knowing that I had no clutter whatsoever and everything was in its home!! These are a few tried and true principles I stick to.
First of all, get rid of anything that doesn't make you happy to look at, or isn't useful on a regular basis. Start here because it's better to de-own something rather than to de-clutter. Personally, I purge items regularly every few months because it gives breathing room. It's nearly impossible to stay organized if every shelf and drawer is packed to the brim. But - when you have space to grow, you have room to add things as you acquire them.
Secondly, give everything a home.
Put like with like. At the end of each day, do a quick run through and return things to their home. To make it fun, play an upbeat song and involve your kiddos in a 5 minute evening routine. Song suggestions: Dancing in the Moonlight by Toploader, Desert Song by Hillsong, Footloose by Kenny Loggins, and there's always... Shake it Off by TSwift!
You’ll feel more peaceful doing it in small chunks rather than letting it build up into a mountain of mess that feels difficult to tackle.
Next, don't be afraid to ask for help.
Have a professional organizer into your home for an afternoon to give you a fresh set of eyes. Or if that's not in the budget, invite a friend over for moral support as you clean out a closet, and then return the favor. This also helps give some built-in accountability for yourself if you're overwhelmed and putting something off. Just knowing that someone else is showing up to do it together is the perk some people need to spring into action.
Lastly - just get started.
Start small with your kitchen junk drawer, and let the momentum build in order to take on the bigger projects. Put a date on your calendar and show up with a trash bag and a donation box. Start purging and moving things around, and you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish when you get going!
Again, get rid of what isn’t useful or beautiful, give everything a home, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and just get started!
Does taking time to stay organized seem like a whole day's project? Maybe it is that project you keep postponing until better weather (i.e. garage), a rainy day (i.e. office), time off work, or just plain lack of better alternative! I like this snippet from the Forbes blog:
Maintaining your office takes time, energy, and dedication. When organization is put off and you wait to deal with things until later, quite often you will get overwhelmed, personally stressed, and your business will suffer because of it. So be sure to schedule time to keep your office organized and your paper flow manageable. A little time spent each day, even just ten minutes, can help you stay on top of things and prevent clutter from building up.
How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time!
Take 10 minutes at the end of each week to straighten up your office and you will be amazed and refreshed at how much peace it restores in you.
Within the last two years, I have moved five times and pared down possessions more and more each time. One area I noticed I kept a lot of excess over the years was keepsakes! Whether photos, scrapbooks, cards, letters, childhood memories, wedding brochures or other "meaningful" randomness -- I had too much! I learned that it may have had meaning at one time, but if it currently meant nothing to me, or if it was "someone else's memory" (such as a wedding brochure), I needed to let it go. Some are great at not bringing these home in the first place, however, I tend to enjoy the prettiness of things like that for awhile, and even keep it for inspiration to make invitations of my own!
If I felt emotional attachments to certain random things, such as the pair of soccer cleats I wore during JV days with purple sweet spots, I took a photo of them and passed them on to Goodwill. What it represented to me was memories, trips with my soccer team, and victories won, but I had no use for the actual cleats. As Laura Gaskill in this Houzz article so aptly puts it, "Honor your feelings, but respect your space."
During the second move, I became more intentional with keepsakes by putting a limit on what I would keep and what I would toss. I decided I would only keep as much as would fit in a 27-gallon bin like this one from Wal-Mart:
Whatever would not fit in this would get the boot! That caused me to prioritize what was important to me and what was not. In my keepsakes bin, I have meaningful greeting cards (tossed the ones with simply a signed name), letters from childhood penpals, my senior scrapbook, some mementos from high school and college, and a folder of certificates I've won over the years, among other things.
When deciding what I would keep, I asked myself these questions,
It satisfies my simplicity bug to fit it all in one tote-able bin, and be free of the rest!
Keep on the lookout for an upcoming giveaway on my Facebook page. Follow the page to see blog post updates from this blog with organizational tips and articles, inspirational photos, and any seasonal specials I offer.
Until then, this is my number one organizational motto:
Strive for function, not perfection.
Your closet doesn't have to look like an ad for the Container Store, as long as it works for you! Can you find what you need when you need it? Does the system make sense to you? Don't feel like you need to spend money on an expensive shelving overhaul in the name of organization. Rearrange what you have, purge what you don't use and love, and discover what works for you personally.