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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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3 Valuable Ways a Professional Organizer Can Help You

Mindfulness meditation is one of my daily practices. Some of the benefits I’ve noticed is that exercise helps me to be more fully present with my attention, gratitude, and experiences. Mindfulness practice emphasizes the present, encourages us to let go of the past, and not stress about the future. These are useful pursuits. However, when it comes to helping my clients with their organizing challenges, there are other considerations. While we are working in the present, we might be grappling with the past or preparing for the future.  It’s useful to be aware of how a particular focus, as in the past, present, or future, will influence the ways your organizer helps you.


The Past

When we hold on to the past, it becomes especially difficult to let go. That can influence the volume of physical belongings that we’re hanging on to or old ideas that no longer serve us. When we’re living in the past, our minds and spaces have little room for the present. An organizer can help you face the “stuff” of the past to decide what is valuable and relevant today.

A client recently told me how she held on to things from the past because she felt that it a happier time than the present. While organizing together, she identified that was no longer true for her. The now was, in fact, really good. With that ah-ha moment, she was able to release many physical belongings she had been reluctant to let go of before. This perspective shift and action that resulted helped her feel less burdened and more open to new possibilities.


The Present

When we are present-focused, we can more easily determine what is relevant and useful now.  Stuff enters our homes through free promotional items, gifts received, or shopping trips made. We often spend more time collecting than intentionally choosing what we actually want. Yet when we’re clear about what is meaningful and useful, it enhances the editing and organizing process.  It’s not uncommon to become overwhelmed by the number of shirts, toiletries, or desk supplies you own. Your organizer can help you set parameters, make decisions, and create organizing systems that honor your present-focus.


The Future

There are times when organizing work has a future-focus. While we are working in the present, we could be preparing for the future such as a move, job change, or arrival of a new baby. Using a future focus will influence your decisions. When you are amid life transitions like these, not all of your current belongings will be helpful. They might not be useful, relevant, or functional. They could have served their purpose and are strong candidates for releasing. Using a mindful, future-lens, your organizer can help pose questions to facilitate beneficial decision-making.

Whether your organizing work is past, present, or future-focused, with the help of your organizer, you can approach the process more mindfully. It’s useful to understand how your organizing goals connect with these periods, as they will influence the choices you make. 

Have you enlisted help from a professional organizer? How has the past, present, or future focus influenced your work together? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I invite you to join the conversation.





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Reader Comments (12)

I love how you've framed the assistance around time. Having a supportive, objective presence (like an organizer) can really help clients get grounded into those aspects of time so that they can be useful tools in the decision making process. I have a daily meditation practice as well, and I know it makes a huge difference in my ability to support clients in this way. Great post!

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSara Skillen

I use a similar exercise with clients by asking them is this part of you past, present or future. When sorting in this way sometimes it helps to clarify for the client why they are saving things.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Schiesl

Thinking about organizing with these time frames in mind is a new tool for me. I have never intentionally references these parameters. Thank you for giving me a new perspective and for helping me to help my clients move forward.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Sara- Thank you so much. As organizers, so often we enter our clients' situations at a point in time. They could be feeling overwhelmed, stuck, and unsure. There are many different approaches to take and sometimes, as you agreed, using "time" as the decision-making framework is a great path to take. It's nice to know a fellow meditator. I've been practicing for about three years and appreciate it so much for how it supports my well-being and in turn how it helps me better support others.

August 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Janet S.- What a great way to frame the question! I love the directness and can see how that helps your clients gain insight and understanding into their belongings. I also imagine that it makes it easier for them to decide what gets kept and what they are willing to release.

August 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Diane- I'm so happy that you found the time perspectives useful and can see using them with your cients. If you test it out, I'd love to hear more about your experience if you feel like sharing.

August 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I asked a professional organizer to help me make my home office feel less crowded. She identified a piece of furniture that was taking up space but was no longer needed. Not only that, she took it with her when she left to make sure I didn't decide to keep it after all.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet B.- I love that you hired a professional organizer to help you being that you help so many of us. That's awesome! And how great that she helped you to make your space less crowded by identifying something large that was occupying space, but no longer served a purpose. I bet you have some nice breathing room now to enjoy your present space. Nice.

August 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love this post and think often how we hold time and presence for our clients. . We save time to do the work itself since often that’s why disorganization continues.

August 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

@Ellen- Thank you so much. That's a beautiful phrase you wrote- "hold time and presence for our clients." Being present for them as they decide about the items that they want to keep or release relating to their past, present, and future is an essential aspect of the work we do as organizers.

August 13, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love this. I've often asked clients, "Is this a NOW thing? And do you actually WANT it to be a now thing?" On top of letting go of the weight of clutter from the past or holding onto aspirational clutter in hopes it'll be worth having in the future, the "now" is complicated, too. Just because you own it, just because it's a task on your schedule, just because it IS in your life now doesn't mean you need it or want it to be. I love the sight of that light dawning in clients' eyes when they realize that they are not their stuff, and that letting go of the stuff doesn't make them any less who they really are.

Linda, thank you for clarifying how we professional organizers can and do use mindfulness to help our clients perceive things more clearly and achieve their goals.

August 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Bestry

@Julie- Thank you so much. I LOVE the questions that you ask your clients to help them clarify the value of "the thing" for their present. It's so true what you said about "now" being complicated because our stuff can be tied up in the past, future, or the present. But where ever we are, helping to tease out the relevancy is essential for growth and movement forward.

August 19, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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