Monday, July 21, 2008

Reality Check - What Organising really takes!

I am thrilled that we finally have an NZ made program on Television that deals with the issue of clutter in peoples homes. This program is "The Big Stuff" and airs on a Thursday evening on TV3. This is wonderful as it shows people that there is help out there if you need assistance to get organised. Here in New Zealand we are such a young industry that most people have never heard of a Professional Organiser let alone thought of hiring one. So "The Big Stuff" is creating some awareness of this amongst the general public.
However I have had a few queries of late about just how a Professional Organiser operates and if it is realistic. On digging deeper with these queries I have discovered they have watched "The Big Stuff" and are potentially distressed at the methods used in this particular program.
The thing that worries them most is the speed at which the "Clients" are expected to make decision about their belongings. In the "Big Stuff" what the viewer sees is people being told they have 30 minutes to unload a truck containing ALL their worldly goods and decide what needs to stay and what needs to go, in 30 Minutes!!
I must be honest here and after 4 1/2 years experience of working with clients I have never put this kind of pressure on a client and after asking many colleagues none of them have either. So even though it is great to be getting industry exposure, sometimes we need to be wary of the impression this type of exposure is giving the general public.
To expect people to make decisions in a very small time frame is unrealistic and potentially dangerous, especially if the client is not ready to part with some items, or if only one of the couple/family is truly on board with the organising process. Sometimes people need time to process, consider (different to procrastinating) and even grieve for items they have and are looking to get rid of. Also finding the best way to dispose of an item can take time and thought, so getting people to sort through their stuff in 30 minutes is not something an experienced Professional Organiser would do with a client. As working with a Professional Organiser is about more than just "Chucking Stuff" it is about what is behind the stuff, the thoughts, feelings. memories and situations that have created the clutter issue in the beginning. It is about working alongside a client to transfer the skills of becoming more organised, so they can move forward with the strategies and skills that work for them. It is not a "everyone fits in the same box" kind of process, every clients will respond and work differently and these are things that need to be considered during a session with a Professional organiser.
I will clarify this again by saying that the 30 minute sort out is what the viewer sees. This may not be a true reflection of the full process that actually occurs during the making of the program. However this is what the viewer sees and forms their perception of what may happen if they work with a Professional organiser, Perception is reality for most people.
So if you are one of those people that have been "put off" calling a Professional Organiser because you have seen this. Rest assured, in real life this is not how it happens, at least not with Totally Organised clients.
It also goes to reinforce the importance of using a reputable Professional Organiser and the best way you can do that is ensure they are a member of their local Association such as (in Aus or NZ) (in the US) and Or if you have a real hoarding and chronic disorganisation issue you can also contact (US based but I am a member of this Association).
All kudos to "The Big Stuff" for highlighting that people can get help with Clutter, however it really is buyer beware and important for you to shop around and find the best Professional Organiser for you and your needs, ask questions and if you do not like the answers ask someone else. It is all about choice and making the right one for you.
Happy Organising!


Dorothy Breininger said...

Dear Wendie,

Thanks for mentioning the National Association of Professeional Organizers and promoting our industry with such leadership. Your blog is fantastic and if I can be of any service to you in New Zealand, please let me know. I'm a former national board member for NAPO. Also, there's a great new organizing product your readers may wish to learn about: - wach the 5 minute video and see how capturing your vital information on-line can change your life!
Big hugs and great job.
Dorothy, CEO, Center for Organization

Angela Esnouf said...

You are so right, Wendy. Well done on "keeping it real".

Anonymous said...

The Big Stuff is a fantastic show its amazing what we associate with materialistic things.

The woman present is fabulous she even has a website after I googled her which is

Well done TV3 for putting on a show I am looking forward to another series.

This show has a great pace and wonderful punters who are real and honest.

Well done!

Wendy Davie - Organising Guru said...

I would have loved the last comment to not have been anonymous. I have tried unsuccessfully to contact Sian Jacquet to congratulate her in the series and also invite her to include on her site. As she lists the coach federation. However I feel that having the Association with the local decluttering experts would also be of benefit, especially to anyone that is looking for a Professional Organiser to help them to declutter.
I am looking forward to eventually getting a reply to my email that went to Sian a few weeks ago. As we are a young industry and thanking/congratulating someone on helping get the exposure out there was the least I could do as the President of AAPO and one of the most experienced Organisers in NZ.