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Q&A with a Professional Organizer – Deb Lee

In our efforts to help you get organized we’ve decided to kickoff a regularly occurring series of posts called "Q&A with a Professional Organizer".  Deb Lee from Upper Marlboro, MD has been kind enough to be our first featured organizer. Thanks Deb!

Q&A with a Professional Organizer

Debleeprofile Deb Lee, CPO – Upper Marlboro, MD –

1. How long have you been a professional organizer?
Practically all my life!  One of my first organizing jobs (self-imposed) was rearranging the apples in my mum’s fruit bowl at the age of 9!  Then, I moved on to sorting her mail and redesigning her bedroom (yes, my mum was very patient!).  After stints as a special needs teacher and regional manager for corporate child care, I officially started my company, D. Allison Lee Professional Organizers, in February 2006.

2. What inspired you to become a CPO?
I remember watching a popular television program where a professional organizer assisted a client with reorganizing her bathroom countertops and cabinets.  I had a “light bulb” moment when I realized that I had always helped friends and family to do the same thing with their homes and offices.  For quite some time, I had already been relying on several organizing principles in my positions as a teacher and regional manager.  I also trained others on how to manage their time better. It seemed like a great fit, so I grabbed the light bulb by the horns, and the rest is history.

Of course, pursuing certification was a very easy decision to make.  Certification not only raises the standards of excellence in our field, but also brings more attention to the valuable services that we provide.  That, coupled with my membership in the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and camaraderie with the other awesome organizers at NAPO-WDC, continue to inspire me to help others regain balance in their lives.

3. What is the most common organizing project you’re hired to do?
Many people call me to help them better manage paper.  Though we live in a world with vast amounts technology and gadgets to help with almost anything, paper seems to infiltrate our homes, offices, and cars at a rate that’s very difficult to keep up with.   

4. What is the most common organizing challenge people have?
Many of my clients find it difficult to donate or throw something away.  Sometimes, it’s clothing or something from their childhood.  It can be magazines, books, or an item that a loved one has given them. At times, old bills are collected.  No matter what the item is, the most common thread among clients seems to be the belief that they will one day have a future need for the things they have kept over the years.

5. If you had to pick ‘your’ biggest organizing challenge, what would it be?
I have so many things I want to do and achieve, sometimes all at once!  There really isn’t enough time to do it all, so I have to make sure that I keep my calendar and “to do” list close by to keep myself on track, especially now that I’ve started blogging.

6. What one tip would you give to people who are trying to get organized?
I actually have two:  First, do a little bit every day.  Even just 5 minutes a day of organizing activities will go a long way to achieving the desired result.  Second, don’t print something unless you really must have a paper copy.

7. How can potential clients get in touch with you?
I can be reached via the “Contact Us” page at the D. Allison Lee website.  You can also find me blogging at Organize to Revitalize!

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  51. Jaime M November 20, 2008 at 9:44 pm #

    These are great tips, Deb! While I do consider myself a relatively organized person, I find myself dealing with many of the challenges you listed above. Lately, I feel I am over-run with paper, and think I am going to start by taking 5 minutes a day to purge! Thanks for the insight! There is no one better suited for this profession than you! 🙂

  52. Tracey November 2, 2008 at 6:00 pm #

    Deb: You are absolutely right about paper being difficult to keep up with. As environmentally conscious as I would like to think I am, my printer and I have killed many trees. I am thankful for the organizing tips you provided, particularly your alerts about Shred Day so that I can at least recycle the paper I do print.

  53. George October 26, 2008 at 4:45 pm #

    Yeah….I can see you have this down to a science. I am proud of you and I hope I get to see more of these interviews. Keep it up …you are definitely going to the TOP.

  54. Connie October 25, 2008 at 9:06 am #

    Thanks for including such an informative category on your website. If a person is organized everything changes in their life and everything seems to just fall into place! My 5 minutes starts today!

  55. Bill October 24, 2008 at 11:00 pm #

    WOW!! Very informative! I find doing a little bit every day does really help.

  56. Ilene Drexler of The Organizing Wiz October 24, 2008 at 8:16 pm #

    Deb: Paper & closet organizing are neck & neck in my practice as the most popular organizing projects.

  57. Julie Bestry October 24, 2008 at 7:45 pm #

    Jim, thanks for spreading the good word (and letting us provide the details) about the professional organizing field.
    And Deb, it’s so funny how so many of us got our “true” start organizing at a ridiculously young age. There’s not so big a jump from apples in fruit bowls to closets or file cabinets!
    You’re so right about starting with even just five minutes. After all, “once begun, a job’s half done!”… Better yet, tie the five (or more) minutes to a particular day part or preceding activity, so you can develop rituals that allow you to conquer your clutter without thinking so hard about it. Make it as much part of your life as brushing your teeth.

  58. Deb Lee October 24, 2008 at 6:01 pm #

    It was my pleasure to participate in your Q&A. Thanks so much for partnering with professional organizers to help others get more organized. I absolutely love your blog!
    Deb =)

  59. Scott Roewer October 24, 2008 at 1:52 pm #

    Great tips Deb – 5 minutes to just get started. I encourage to set a timer, so they know exactly when those 5 minutes begin and end. If you have more energy, do another 5 minutes. Eventually you’ll be able to increase to 10, 15, or 30 minutes at a time!
    I also agree with her on not printing something unless you need it. I’m a paper lover, I really don’t like reading on the screen. But, in my efforts to become more green, I’ve really had to pick and choose, what’s the most important items to print. I’ve found that my paper use has gone down about 50% this year.

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