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Q&A with a Professional Organizer – Janice Simon

Janice Simon, CPO® –

1. How long have you been a professional organizer?
Personally, I’ve been an organizer all of my life in some ways. I grew up with parents whose parents went through the Great Depression and lived on farms. They keep everything “just in case.” I also shared a room with my sister, and possession is nine tenths of the law so I had to keep everything on my side of the imaginary line dividing our room. Professionally, I’ve been an organizer for over seven years as an “in-house” organizer at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Part of my job duties as project director in Faculty Development is to provide one-on-one organizing and time management help for faculty and their staff, to do presentations and write a monthly Organizing E-Newsletter.

2. What inspired you to become a professional organizer?
My boss did. She was the one who first heard about the National Association of Professional Organizers and sent me to their annual conference in 2001. I came back from the conference inspired, and we offered the organizing services to our doctors and staff to see what happened. It’s now one of the most popular services our department provides, and I love working with my clients and making a difference in their lives. My clients inspire me every day.

3. What is the most common organizing project you’re hired to do?
As you can imagine, I do many offices either at work or home. People are just so busy that they don’t have time to create and maintain the space they want, and as a result, they can’t find what they need to do their work or run their home.

4.  What is the most common organizing challenge people have?
In addition to the usual nemesis of paper, e-mail and an overwhelming to do list, many of my clients have issues with perfectionism and procrastination. They put things off to the side to deal with later or avoid all together. If the final product can’t be perfect, they procrastinate on it and then feel guilty or stressed about it. This is a serious issue in the work environment when you have a supervisor waiting for your work. We have to talk about how done is perfect so they can move on.

5. If you had to pick ‘your’ biggest organizing challenge, what would it be?
Too many to-do’s! I have to work very hard to keep my plate from being too full because they are so many things I want to do and so many people I want to see. I have to be realistic about how much I can actually accomplish. During very busy times, I make sure I take care of myself and give myself enough down time. I also have learned to say no!

6. What one tips would you give to people who are trying to get organized?
Be ruthless. So many times, clients keep things out of guilt, obligation, or habit. If you don’t love it, it’s only taking up the prime real estate in your home or office. Free yourself.

7. What else would you want to tell someone about being organized?
As someone who lives in a hurricane zone and has evacuated for a
hurricane, it’s important to be prepared. Make a list of the items you
would like to take with you if you had to evacuate and keep them with
your vital papers.

8. How can potential clients get in touch with you?
Those interested in subscribing to my Organizing E-Newsletter can email me at Private clients can contact me through my blog at  You can also follow me on Twitter at:

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