Are Professional Organizers Doomed?

As the country gradually starts to reopen, there’s a big question hanging over the heads of professional organizers: will people be willing to let us in their homes anytime soon?

We weren’t seen as an essential service when the virus hit. Will people still be willing to spend money on getting organized when life opens up again?

Even if they let us in, will they be willing to let go of things or will this experience have reinforced the belief that you never know when you might run out of something?  We’ve faced some core challenges to the idea that traveling lightly through the material world is the best way to go. Even confirmed minimalists are surely rethinking their idea of how much toilet paper is enough to keep on hand.

It’s important to remember that for every person who’s been all over social media rhapsodizing about the gift of time at home to be productive and #blessed for all the organizing projects they got done during the shut down, there are plenty more who didn’t find the stress and anxiety of a pandemic conducive to learning to organize.

Can Zoom Save the Day?

Virtual organizing may work well for the crowd who want a motivating body double on the other side of a screen but for people who struggle with organizing, real live in-person help is where it’s at.

These are the people who don’t learn best from blog posts, books, online courses, worksheets, printables or any other visual static media. Zoom seems two-dimensional. They learn best with the apprentice system.

They need someone to show them in person, to work side by side with them and transfer skills, to lend an encouraging ear, provide instantaneous feedback and unfailingly positive reinforcement.  To create a safe, welcoming environment to learn skills they’re ashamed of not having. To teach them they’re not broken and that shame doesn’t help anything. To partner with them to create organizing systems that work for them. To hang in there with them for as long as takes. We don’t abandon them, we don’t judge them, we don’t expect them to be anywhere other than exactly where they are.

Once they know in their bones how to declutter, life changes. They may never be Olivia Organized but the baffling techniques of decluttering and getting organized are no longer impenetrable. They see for themselves that it can be done and what’s more, it can be done by them!

Our People Are Waiting For Us

During this pandemic, the walls have closed in for the chronically disorganized. Unable to escape their mess, they’ll have left virtually, logging as much time on Facebook, Instagram and the Internet as it takes to forget the state of their homes.

Let’s welcome them back and remind them of their hidden superpowers. Let’s partner with them to bring what we do best to the table and help them clear theirs.

Is Professional Organizing Doomed?

Most definitely not. As soon as it’s safe, our people will not only be willing to let us into their homes again, they’ll be jumping at the chance to free themselves from the shackles of clutter and to shake off the shame. We’ll be there for them all the way.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Needed this so much!!! I own OrderUp Design in Atlanta and this has been such a hard time. I don’t actually know other organizers personally so I feel like I’m
    Always navigating alone. So happy to have found your blog!

    1. Yes, this has been a difficult time to be an organizer for sure. I’m so glad you found my blog, I have a new post every Saturday so you might want to subscribe so they arrive right in your inbox each week.

      For local networking, have you checked out NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) and ICD (Institute for Challenging?Disorganization).

      Both great ways to connect with other organizing professionals. NAPO is more general than ICD, which is for organizers who work with clients with ADD, ongoing ckutter issues and people with hoarding disorder.

  2. Linda Samuels says:

    This will be a fascinating time for our industry. I’m sure that our services will continue to be needed, but how they are delievered will change. In New York, things have been bad because of the pandemic. And while life is starting to open up, and some of my colleagues are returning to in-person organizing, I personally am not. Most of my clients are chronically disorganized. And while I completely understand and respect your perspective that virtual organizing isn’t effective for the CD client, I haven’t had that experience.

    All clients aren’t good candidates for VO work, but a lot are. Like many of my colleagues, my organizing business went from 100% to zero overnight. It was scary after being in business for over 27 years. But I started to convert many of my in-person clients to work virtually and started with new clients working only virtually. It’s a different way of working, but has many benefits including shorter and more focused work sessions, more accountability and follow-thru, increased neuroplasticity for the client (and organizer.)

    It turns out, I LOVE VO work and don’t plan on returning to in-person work any time soon.

    1. That is so wonderful to her, Linda! I’m thrilled to hear you were able to pivot your organizing business in such a positive way that you’ve come to see it as your new business model. Way to go!!

  3. Janet Barclay says:

    I’m really glad to see you addressing this. I have many clients and friends who are professional organizers, and I’ve been worried about this very issue. I’ve already pinned your post, but I’ll be sure to share your link with anyone who expresses these concerns.

    1. Thank you, Janet! I believe so strongly in the work we do, I’d hate for us to slip back to those darks days where people were left to figure this out on their own, whether or not they happened to have this skill set or not.

  4. The “shackles of clutter” is a perfect metaphor for how many of our clients feel. Thanks for the joyful and positive exploration of how CV-19 has affected our industry, and how we can slowly but surely resume partnering with our clients to set them free!

    1. It’s going to be so much fun to get back to work!

  5. Definitely not doomed! I’ve found that my clients differ in how they feel about re-opening. Some are sticking with virtual, others have invited me back. Fortunately, my market is in a community where I think we have passed the peak. I believe was confidence in health and public safety grows, so will the marketplace for organizing services. The NEED is definitely still present, so it is all about the timing. I’ve decided to stay flexible and follow each client’s lead, staying within their comfort zone.

    1. there’s definitely an appropriate caution here in Colorado. I think people are waiting to see how the opening up affects our currently low numbers. You’re so right Seana, flexibility is the name of the game now more than ever.

What say you?