Lea Schneider, Professional Organizer – Pensacola, FL – www.organizerightnow.com
How long have you been a professional organizer?
Organizing as a career began when I opened Organize & More in Tennessee in early 2003. When I relocated to Florida, the name changed to Organize Right Now LLC. Honestly, I think I’ve been organizing all of my life, both at home and on the job. The part that was new was the word professional.
What inspired you to become a PO?
I’ve long loved giving someone that ah-ha moment. While it may be when a room is finished, for me, it is most often when the light bulb shines for someone I am working with. The moment when they grasp an easier or more efficient way to do things is very exciting. I was working as a journalist specializing in home-related stories. One summer, I was traveling and read a professional organizer’s interview in a Philadelphia paper. She was offering expert tips for how to do things. I had an ah-ha moment of my own when I realized I knew and did those tips too and I could bring what I knew to folks beyond my writing and what I already did for my employers and friends.
What is the most common organizing project you’re hired to do?
Establishing or re-establishing a peaceful environment is the most common organizing goal. This applies to offices piled with papers to kitchen counters heaped with clutter to walk-in closets missing their floors. Clutter shouts at you from all corners. It is a stressful way to work and live. The most common project is the common goal to restore peace and reduce stress.
What is the most common organizing challenge people have?
Living in a disposable society where more, bigger and faster are buzz words is the most common organizing challenge. We fill up rooms and then fill up homes. Instead of thinking there is too much stuff, the common myth is the home is too small. Larger homes are bought to hold even more stuff. We try to fit more and more things in increasingly crowded spaces including fitting more and more activities into increasingly crowded calendars. At some point, there just isn’t enough time, space or energy to deal with all the accumulation of belongings and tasks. It’s very common to hear “I’m just overwhelmed.”
If you had to pick ‘your’ biggest organizing challenge, what would it be?
Pacing projects! I just hate to spread out a project. I tend to want to blast into an organizing project and continue to work and work until it is finished. While I regularly tell my clients to “focus and finish,” I also encourage them to be kind to themselves. Break down jobs into manageable tasks. Pace out those tasks at a rate you can manage so it won’t exhaust you or cause you to be stressed by the job. So often, people fail at an organizing goal because they “bit off more than they could chew,” as the saying goes, and then they say “See, I can’t get organized.” When I do projects for myself, it really is hard to slow down and take my own recommended, measured approach rather than barrel ahead until weariness sets in.
What one tip would you give to people who are trying to get organized?
Choose just one room or project as your goal. Everyone has more than one room or area in their life they want to organize. There are two things that can defeat you. One is bouncing from project to project. You begin this room and move to the desk and then over to that closet and back to the desk. You work really hard and at the end of the day, you can’t see any progress. The second thing that can defeat you is picturing all the many things or places you want to organize and allowing the list to engulf you. You simple can’t do it all at once, even if you really want to. My tip for people trying to get organized – Pick one goal. Stick with it until you have finished that goal before starting another.
How has your professional organizing business changed over the years?
As Rubbermaid certainly knows, the DIY, or do-it-yourself client, is a huge market. Two years ago, I put together an expert Organize Online team to reach the DIY market. My team is made up of five very experienced professional organizers, each members of NAPO, the National Association of Professional Organizers, and each a business owner in their own community. Together, our team provides one-on-one organizing advice through our Organize Online program via phone, email, Skype and even by sharing digital pictures. When clients have a project, room or organizational issue, they can easily and quickly get expert advice in order to move on that project – even if they don’t have a professional organizer living in their community.
What’s down the road for your company?
Today, organizational education plays a much bigger role at Organize Right Now than ever before. Along with hands-on, on-site organizing and the Organize Online program, continuing to find ways to meet the consumer demand for organizing information is a business goal. People desperately want to be organized and to be in control. Creating easily assessable ways for them to learn to be organized, from e-books to audio downloads, are going to be part of my business growth and also an industry-wide trend. It means looking for more ways to provide that ah-ha moment I like so much.
Is there anything else you want to share?
I just want to take this time to thank Newell-Rubbermaid for a very special time in my organizing career. In 2008, I entered an organizing contest sponsored by Rolodex, a member of the Rubbermaid family. I was named the Grand Prize Winner of the Rolodex Office Makeover Challenge, winning a trip to Reno, NV and a chance to build my office design on the convention floor there. It was an amazing experience and opened the door to other opportunities for me. Thanks so much for your corporation’s amazing work with our profession.
How can potential clients get in touch with you?
Please visit my website, www.organizerightnow.com, to learn about the Organize Online program, the on-site Organize Pensacola program, to sign-up for a free newsletter or for organization education materials. Organizing tips of all kinds are shared on my blog at www.organizerightnow.wordpress.com.