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Stranger Danger...Can You Really Trust A Professional Organizer?

Two people sitting across from each other holding hands.

On a recent Monday morning when I had planned to work from home, I spent about 2.5 hours on a video call with someone I hadn't seen or spoken to in almost 30 years.

Did I need to get work done?

I always need to get work done so I'm not going to beat myself up over what some may say was a loss of productivity.

Trust me, I lost nothing and gained so much.

Like many people often say in these situations, it was as if no time had pass between us so it was wonderful to have the time to reconnect.

We didn't actually have too much time to develop a deep connection when we lived in the same city in the 1990's. She got cancer within a year after we moved there and we left two years later. My last "encounter" before leaving in 1995 was probably delivering meals to her while she was recovering from her treatments. I had been hired by her husband to make meals for him and their daughters when she was out of state getting her treatments and the deliveries did continue until I left the state.

While I did make it back there twice within the first 10 years after leaving, the first time I think she was out of town and by the next time I went back it was for a business trip in 2003 and she had left with her family to move back to her hometown where she still is today.

Sadly I found out her husband died in 2020 from cancer. I will always remember him as being one of those truly nice guys, always with a smile on his face even when he was taking care of two small children and his wife at the same time under very stressful circumstances.

So to receive a Facebook message from her all these years later telling me she's been following my entrepreneurial journey online and wanted some advice on how to finally tackle letting go of her husband's things, I was flattered beyond words.

Then again, complete strangers hire me and my team to come into their homes and help them understand the connection between their past traumas and their present clutter on a daily basis.

Should I be trusted just because I think I am trustworthy?

I would like to think so but honestly, I have some trust issues myself and understand the danger so many clients may be feeling by allowing me to know, in most cases, extremely intimate details of their lives.

Do I need to know these details to be able to declutter and reorganize a home?

I'm going to argue yes if I am going to be able to set them up for success moving forward. The past, as we know, will always haunt us unless we dive deep into what caused the clutter to accumulate in the first place. And in most cases, I promise, it has nothing to do with being lazy.

My old friend?

She is hardly lazy but she has been dealing with grief and that is debilitating for even the most highly energetic and productive people.

Was 4 years too long to live with her husband's clothes still hanging in his closet?

And is 4 months too short for a recent client to decide to sell her home after losing her mother and her job?

Who am I or anyone else to put a time limit on grief or judge anyone for the decisions they make or directions they take surrounding their grief?

I had a consult with a potential client a few weeks ago who had to move from the apartment she was in as a result of the smoke damage caused by the Marshall Fire. The packing done by the movers hired by her insurance company was not done in an intentional manner. And now over 2 years later she is still living amongst boxes and a lot of clutter because she is still grieving what was before the fire when she was as she described "organized enough". Now, with her health and well-being impacted by the post-fire trauma, she's paralyzed and just like my friend, doesn't know where to begin.

If I've said it once, I've said it 1000 times...the decluttering and organizing process is hard for most people even under the best of circumstances. But when it is a result of grief it is that much harder.

The best tips I can offer?

  • Give yourself space for didn't take a day to accumulate everything so it is going to take more than a day to go through it all especially if you are working on letting go of a loved one's belongings.

  • Work in 20-minute intervals by setting a timer and as you feel yourself getting into a groove feel free to increase the intervals but never to the point of exhaustion.

  • Start with a single drawer or cabinet that you know you can handle in a small chunk of time. This will set you up for success and trick your brain into thinking you are crushing the decluttering game by creating small "wins".

If you need more tips please do not hesitate to reach out. I am always happy to do a FREE 30-minute virtual consult with anyone anywhere. Click HERE to fill out the contact form and schedule your consultation.

My phone call with my old friend was supposed to be 30 minutes but, well, 30 years is a long time and we had a lot of catching up to do!!! I could have spent the entire day on the phone with her but maybe my summer travels will take me to where she is living now and we can catch up more in person while at the same time help her go through a lifetime of stuff.

Be well and remember, always be kind,


Can You Really Trust A Professional Organizer

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