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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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In The Other Side of Organized, Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® will encourage you to get organized enough to reduce the stress of life’s details and make time to embrace your passions. Already, thousands of clients and readers have found help and inspiration in her advice, personal reflections on change and connection, and vision of what can be accomplished when you find that sweet spot between chaos and perfection.

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5 Tips for Ensuring the Best Organizing Help

As a professional that’s been helping people get organized for over 25 years, I’ve learned a few things about working with clients. My goal has always been to provide the best, most personalized service possible, so that my clients receive the quality organizing help they deserve. While there are several factors that go into delivering this type of service, the overarching theme is about communication.  As an organizing professional that specializes in working with many chronically disorganized clients that are challenged by the organizing piece in their lives, my client/organizer relationships tend to extend over a long period of time. Being able to maintain an open dialogue is essential.


5 Tips for Ensuring the Best Organizing Help


1. Use Two-Way Street

The best relationships are truly based on a two-way street. While I believe in the client is always right” maxim, there still needs to be open, honest dialogue. It’s important to be able to discuss expectations and boundaries of both the client and organizer. The client/organizer relationship is collaborative in nature, so being clear about needs and expectations will result in better service and organizing help.


2. Accommodate Environmental Preferences

Many of my clients are sensitive to their environments. Sound, light, scent, movement, and temperature can enhance or detract from a productive organizing session.  I’m always watching out for these types of issues, but it’s wonderful when a client lets me know about their preferences. This way I can be more aware of their needs so that they will have a positive organizing experience. Some of the preferences and requests I’ve encountered have included:

  • Wearing solid, dark colored clothes instead of patterns and bright colors to accommodate visual processing sensitivity
  • Being quiet, not talkative, while working to accommodate attention and focus challenges 
  • Playing upbeat music to create a happier mood while organizing
  • Not wearing scented products due to aroma sensitivities
  • Being less active with my body language (as in don't move hands wildly while talking) due to visual processing sensitivity
  • Talking more slowly and loudly due to auditory impairment
  • Adjusting the room temperatures frequently (windows opened or closed, air conditioner on or off, heat up or down) to accommodate body temperature fluctuations  


3. Clarify Goals

The more the client invests in communicating and clarifying their organizing goals, the better help they’ll receive. Flexibility is an essential aspect to any project, especially when the projects are multi-faceted. Yet even so, giving some pre-thought to each organizing visit helps to get things moving in a good direction. There are times when my clients get overwhelmed and aren’t sure what they want to focus on. It’s useful to take some time at the beginning of the organizing visit to discuss possibilities and to figure out some options together. The clearer clients are about what they want, the better organizing help they’ll receive. 


4. Practice Self-Care

I love organizing and particularly helping others to organize. However, not all of my clients approach organizing with the same love and zest. They have the desire for the results, but they don’t necessarily enjoy doing the work to get there. So even though I work to keep the atmosphere fun and upbeat, all of the decision-making can be fatiguing for my clients. To get the most out of their sessions, it’s beneficial when they practice pre-session self-care. This includes showing up well-rested, minimizing distractions (as in kids, email, phones, and pets,) or being properly fed and hydrated. Then during the sessions, knowing when a water, bathroom or snack break is needed is also important. I watch out for the signs, but it’s great when my clients self-advocate. Then I can better support them.


5. Do Check-Ins

One of the keys for getting the best help possible is to do periodic check-ins with your clients. These can be done before, during, after or in between organizing sessions. A simple, “How are you doing?” can yield a lot of important feedback. Some clients will readily express what they’re feeling and experiencing, while others need to be drawn out. It’s useful to do a check-in at the start of a session to set the intentions (goals and timing) for that day. Checking in several times while organizing is important too. Doing a wrap-up, check-in is also helpful. Touching base between sessions can also be valuable. A check-in provides info-gathering moments that make time for sharing feedback and incorporating needed adjustments. 

Do any of these tips resonate with you? Do you have any you’d like to add to the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join the conversation!





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Reader Comments (14)

Room temperature and background noise are two requests I frequently encounter. As you point out, we have different preferences in this area. Some love the music while others can't think with it on. I also do "check ins" with previous clients. I want them to know that it is perfectly normal if they'e fallen off the wagon a bit, and a few sessions may be all they need to snap things back in shape. The two-way street requires some careful treading. Part of the reason I am there is to be firm, helping to move in a new direction. It is easier to just always do things the client's way, but then they might not achieve their goals. When running into a roadblock, I often say, "This is your organizer talking over here... maybe we should rethink this one."

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

I love your points about environmental factors. I tend to talk fast and when in session I work hard to keep the tone slow and even. I've also gotten to know my clients pretty well and music does help many of them "get in the organizing groove" so if things are stalling, I'll suggest the tunes be put on. I never thought about keeping my clothing neutral, but one of the questions on my intake is about clothing I should or shouldn't wear due to any religious or cultural reasons. I don't typically dress in loud patterns and colors anyway, but it's a good thing to keep in mind.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Soboleski

@Seana- You made me think of one of my clients when you said "snap things back in shape." When I'd arrive, he used to say, "Let's clear the decks!" And that's exactly what we'd do, get things back to a clean slate. I agree that the two-way street requires some finesse. I know that ultimately it is the client that needs to be in charge of the decisons and direction. I'm there to support them. But I'm also there to hold up the goals they've said they want to reach. So if there are things they start doing that dont' support them, we'll have an open conversation about it. It's a good opportunity to see if things have shifted and need to follow a different course.

August 27, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Sarah- It's important to accommodate our clients' needs. And of course some of them can be more challenging than others. Like for me, NOT moving my hands when I talk is really hard to do. So I had to practice extreme mindfulness when that particular need came about. I've had a few clients that LOVE listening to music while we work. I always have them select the music. But if they aren't sure, we go to Pandora and select a genre that they like. One of my favorites was a client that liked listening and singing along to Broadway tunes while we organized. I'm not sure who was having more fun :) I like your suggestion about appropriate clothing due to religious or cultural concerns. I hadn't thought of that. Only once have I encountered a specific clothing request.

August 27, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

These are important principles that I try to follow in my web design business as well - except for the environmental preferences, since I don't usually meet with my clients in person. I guess the equivalent for me would be communication preferences: phone, email, video chat, etc.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet- That's such an important addition you mentioned about the communication preferences. There are so many ways to communicate even if you also meet with clients in person. I like to ask that upfront so that I use the channels that my clients prefer. I don't know if you've experienced this, but more and more, texting is preferred. I will always accommodate my clients' preferences, but my preferred mode of communication, other than in-person is by phone or email. How about you?

August 27, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I found that self-care is essential. When working with clients, my philosophy is the customer knows best about their home and themselves. So, I usually ask many questions and follow their lead in the process. Whether it be going slow through the process of purging or doing more of the legwork if they have issues with stairs, we start where the client feels comfortable then as they see the results, they usually feel energized to remove even more things. Four-hour sessions are typically the limit for purging and organizing with my clients. But, for small projects, for my returning customers, 2 hours sessions work nicely. They feel accomplished and can see the results. It's a win-win.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

@Sabrina- There's a term in the coaching industry, NCRW. It stands for naturally creative resourceful and whole. The philosophy you've shared about recognizing that your clients know themselves best is in alignment with that. Like you, I too encourage the clients lead the process because they are better experts about their needs than I am. Once I know what they need and want I can better support them in their pursuits.

August 27, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

These are great tips! You are absolutely right about communication being a key element. Some of my clients like to begin our sessions with a little catch-up chat. They fill me in on what they've been doing and I fill them in on my family - nothing too personal - just some casual conversation. I find it helps my clients relax, get used to having me around - in their space - and then we get to work.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Diane- I love those "catch-up" chats that you mentioned. And I also understand what you mean about the sharing going both ways, but being mindful of keeping it casual. I agree that with you that those brief chats definitely create a more relaxed mood for working together.

August 27, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I prefer email for most things, but in many cases, a phone call can wrap something up in a few minutes that might take days of back-and-forth emails. I don't mind texts, but sometimes clients contact me by Facebook messenger, which I don't like, because I don't want to respond during my off hours, and I'm apt to forget about it since you can't mark it unread like you can with an email.

August 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet- Sounds like you and I are alike in our preferred modes of communication. I'm with you about using Facebook to communicate. It's another avenue, but most definitely NOT a preferred one. Very few clients contact me that way, but I have had new people use it as a way to initiate a conversation or inquiry. I try my best to switch it over to email or phone.

August 29, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

These are great help for me. it's a good thing to keep in mind.

September 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Jones

@David- Thanks so much. Glad you found these useful.

September 8, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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