Organizing: When Slow and Deliberate is Better Than Fast and Simple
As organizers we love to go into an unorganized area and within hours have it looking pretty good. We love those before/after shots and love the look of adoration on our clients’ faces.
But hang on. If we always strive to work in this style, the look we may see is utter panic and loathing instead of adoration. Some of our clients simply cannot handle a quick clearing of spaces. The client might have OCD, Hoarding tendencies, PTSD, TBI, Depression, or just not ready for this. The removal of items, the opening of spaces, and even the clearing of a table top or a chair can cause physical and mental reactions. A panic attack might occur.
When working with clients, keep the conversation open. Listen, Listen carefully. Look at body language. Remind the client that they can take a break at any time. It’s OK to stop for a cup of tea or a glass of water and just talk.
If you suspect there is a fear of open areas, go slowly. It a table is piled high with papers, trinkets, and other objects, start to remove some of them so that you can make a sort. Talk about this as you work. “Let’s put all the coins in this jar. OK? Let’s stack all the notepaper together. OK? Let’s put all the pens in this jar. OK?’
Some items can probably move somewhere else. Discuss the purpose of the table. Then return all items that belong back to that table. The table will probably be covered but like items are together and not stacked up as much as before. Then check to see if this is OK.
The same goes for cleaning the floor. When a space is cleared, you might decide to leave a small stack of empty boxes there for a while until the client gets used to the open space.
I had a client tell me, “I think of it as like climbing Mount Everest. We first go to the base camp and get used to the atmosphere there before we move on up”. The same client said earlier, “I must think of this as a marathon, not a sprint”.
Expect backsliding. Think of it as a dance. Two steps forward and then one back or to the side.
Keep discussing with the client her vision for the space. They may think at some point that the area is now complete while you think a lot more could be done to improve it. Stop. The area is now complete. Move on or just stop and keep in touch.
We may feel that we are using too much time and resources of our client by working slowly, but if steady progress is being made and the client is feeling good about the project, we are doing our job well. Slow and steady wins the race.
Jonda S. Beattie Professional Organizer
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