Day in the life of
Professional Organizer – Shanley Ten Eyck
Every day is different as a Professional Organizer, and that is part of what makes it unique and appealing! In one week, I may be decanting cereal to curate an “Instagram-worthy” pantry, and another day I am working in a garage to develop storage solutions for sports equipment and Christmas ornaments. Yet another day may include giving productivity guidance on how to optimize and streamline workplaces, and finally, I may present at a conference or attend networking events to attract clients.
Each one of these is necessary as a solopreneur to move my business forward, but my most enjoyable days include working in-person with clients and teaching them organizational tips and skills. People are always amazing I get “paid to do that” and I love what I do, every day!
- Long hours on your feet: Days in this profession can be anything from 30 minutes on the phone coordinating a pickup, to as many hours as you’re willing to work in a day. My minimum appointment time is 3 hours and those are common. But I’ve also worked 16 hours in one day prepping for movers to arrive the next day. It all depends on the client and the situation.
- Working in garages or attics in the summer: I currently live in Tampa, Florida where the humidity can be 100% on a 90+degree day. But for most of my organizing career, I lived in Tucson, Arizona where it’s a dry heat, but 115 degrees in the sun and the garage feels like being inside an oven. In any hot location, hydration is key to keeping yourself going during those hot temperatures. Having extra supplies like cooling towels and moisture wicking clothing also helps a lot. To eliminate this con, many organizers will only book garages and attics during the cooler parts of the year.
- Always being on your toes in terms of personal security: One never knows what to expect when going alone into a stranger’s home, (this is true for any gender, though most organizers are women). It’s a good idea to have a detailed set of questions to use during your intake phone call. You could also conduct a quick internet search on the client before agreeing to meet with them or work in their home. Also, have a clear set of guidelines in your contract about things you will/won’t handle or allow (animals, children, guns, drugs, witnessing verbal or physical abuse, etc.) will help to maintain your safety.
But sometimes unexpected things happen to make you question your security, and most organizers have encountered one (or more) of these situations in their career. It’s always good to implement a few precautionary procedures such as: working in pairs or groups to ensure everyone’s safety; checking in with someone (a boss/coworker or loved-one) when arriving /departing at a client’s location; always carrying your car keys and phone, to ensure you could leave in a hurry; linking your calendar to someone else’s with the client’s address and service times. If the service time changes, a check-in call keeps everyone updated of your location & timing. In most cases, it’s better to provide too much information to a trusted ally (boss, coworker, spouse, loved-one) to ensure your own safety.
- A physically demanding job that can become an issue as you age: Typical client expectations include that the organizer will help with moving heavy items, pick up large (and heavy) bags of donations, assemble furniture, and haul things to and from the client’s home. Some organizers hire other people to do this (haulers, handymen, etc.) and some organizers do it themselves. This can be very physically demanding and can eventually lead to the organizer getting injured. I personally have had to scale back what I’m doing much sooner than anticipated and am now adding more virtual and hands-off service options for my clients. These can include things like photo scanning, filing papers, estate cataloging, and of course, virtual organizing.
- Clients not being pleased with the outcome (usually because of unclear expectations & communication)
- Helping a client figure out what their goal is for their home, what items spark joy for them, and what they want to keep – with confidence
- Reducing the conflict in a home by eliminating the clutter – and thus making their lives better
- Leaving a closet or cupboard in rainbow order always makes me smile (ROY-G-BIV is my mantra!)
- Changing client’s lives by teaching them life-long techniques they continue to implement long after I leave; clients often say after working with me, “I hear you in my head, guiding me on what to do,” and this fills my heart with joy!
- Seeing a client have an “a-ha” moment as they grasp an organizational concept
- Getting a call from a client 6-months later because they are looking for an item and knowing exactly where it is, and them finding it!
- Creating seamless systems that work specifically for that client, in their home, for their lifestyle. Implementing customized systems, I know will help clients organize their lives is my goal!