Geralin Thomas, CPO – Cary, NC – www.metropolitanorganizing.com
1) How long have you been a professional organizer?
I joined NAPO, North Carolina in August of 2003 and consider that my “official” start date. Before that, I was on the ‘friends and family plan’, meaning I helped friends and relatives who knew I loved organizing people’s time, space and stuff. I unofficially started calling myself an organizer a year before that.
2) What inspired you to become a CPO-CD?
I’ve been organizing as long as I can remember. Even as a young girl I appreciated having quality over quantity. I was emphatic about keeping only one Barbie and wanted nothing to do with any of her friends. Instead of dating Ken, my Barbie stayed in on Saturday nights organizing her dream home & evening gown collection which was color-coded in ROY G. BIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Indigo, Violet).
In elementary school, when we started diagramming sentences using the Reed-Kellogg system, I was in organizing geek heaven. I knew then and there that if organizing words could bring me such joy, organizing tangible stuff would be nirvana.
Once I had children of my own, the organizational skills had to grow exponentially. My two boys, born only 14 months apart, provided all sorts of organizational challenges – not just their stuff, but their time, their activities, and how everything fit into our family’s lives and our space. As every parent knows, children bring a new world of social networking, and the moms and dads I met all had their organizing challenges, too. I had fun helping solve some of their organizing puzzles, to the point where I realized this was a business opportunity; parents asked for my advice and hands-on solutions and were willing to pay for it.
3) What is the most common organizing project you’re hired to do?
Through NSGCD I am a Certified Professional Organizer specializing in Chronic Disorganization (CPO-CD) and have a certificate of study in basic hoarding issues. I work the entire gambit, from hoarders, pack-rats and clutterbugs, to ‘ordinary disorganized’ people.
4) What is the most common organizing challenge people have?
Technology does save time but generally we’re all busier than ever. Phones and computers make us accessible 24/7, which means we don’t allow ourselves to have much free time. More people are working from home, and their home offices are usually much smaller than a commercial space. So, our lives, our stuff, our time, and our spaces need to be streamlined and efficient so that we can free ourselves for some relaxation. Most Americans need a vacation from information; everyone needs to unplug for a while and recharge.
5) If you had to pick ‘your’ biggest organizing challenge, what would it be?
I'd like to pack less (in a suitcase) but I'm not willing to compromise so I haul around my favorites. Unfortunately, they aren't travel-friendly fabrics, sizes and shapes.
6) What one tip would you give to people who are trying to get organized?
Recognize that not everyone can do everything alone all the time—none of us are wonder woman. Get help from friends, family, or a professional organizer. Look for someone who is diplomatic, empathetic, willing to listen, non-judgmental, creative, patient, and trustworthy.
7) What is your personal philosophy of organization?
Well, for starters I don’t think organizing is a one-size fits all task. Everyone has a different vision of what being organized looks like. I don’t subscribe to the “OHIO” rule (Only Handle It Once) and I’m not rigid about everything being perfect. I usually roll my eyes when I read most organizing “rules” because I prefer a much more organic process –– life evolves, so should our systems and processes. I prefer customized, individually tailored organizing plans.
8) How did you get involved with the series Hoarders and what is your role in the episodes you are featured in?
Hoarders are a population I enjoy working with tremendously. I find it disappointing that there is such a stigma placed on mental health conditions such as hoarding. I have worked with hoarders for a while, but when I was offered an opportunity to work with them on film I leapt at the opportunity. I was optimistic that the show would pull the topic of hoarding out of the closet, but the show has busted the door right off the hinges!
Educating the public about both hoarding itself as well as organizer-therapist collaborations, encourages those seeking treatment to collaborate with psychotherapists and qualified professional organizers. Most often, hoarders find themselves unable to de-clutter without the benefit of a well-oiled support system.
9) How can potential clients get in touch with you?
Web: www.metropolitanorganizing.com / www.metrozing.com