Interview with Professional Organizer Linda Samuels

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Continuing our series of interviews with professional organizers, today we have Linda Samuels of Oh, So Organized!

You can find Linda online at:

Organizing website:  ohsoorganized.com

Book/blog website:  theothersideoforganized.com

Please tell us about yourself and your business.

As someone who was “born organized,” 25 years ago when I launched Oh, So Organized! I realized that organizing was also a teachable skill. I support those challenged by disorganization to make the changes they seek by creating simple, customized organizing strategies and systems. Each client is unique. In order for organizing systems to be effective, they must be tailored to my client’s lifestyle, preferences, thinking styles and goals. The work is personal. I work one on one with my clients ages 5 to 90 in their homes and offices. 80% of my work is residential. 90% of my clients are chronically disorganized. In addition to hands-on organizing, I am author of The Other Side of Organized – Finding Balance Between Chaos and Perfection, blogger, coach, speaker and mentor to fellow organizers. When I’m not working or volunteering, I can be found hanging out with my family and friends, walking in the woods or along the rivers, dancing, laughing, reading, doing photography, journaling, meditating, and entertaining.

 

What are your clients’ biggest challenges?

Overwhelm is the number one challenge that my clients experience. This causes more stress and less action. In fact, overwhelm can cause paralysis, which is usually when people call me for help. They want to move forward, but don’t know where or how to begin. They are stuck. The most common types of challenges causing that overwhelm are from too much general clutter, too many papers and ineffective paper management systems, overcrowded schedules and unrealistic time commitments, and overcrowded closets (clothing, kitchens, toys.)

 

In your experience, how does a person’s physical space affect their ability to manage their time effectively?

What a great question! I’ve always believed that in order to effectively manage your time, your physical space needs to be organized too. Your time and space are intertwined. If a person’s physical environment doesn’t support what they’re trying to do or how they want to live, it will negatively affect their ability to manage their time. For example, if you’re trying to get out of the door in the morning to get to work on time and all of your organizing systems aren’t working, there’s a good chance that you’ll not only be stressed, but that you’ll also be chronically late. If instead you’ve established an organized morning routine which could include some pre-planning the night before, having organized bathroom cabinets with supplies handy, having a streamlined closet with clean, well-fitting, seasonally appropriate clothing, having an organized kitchen with breakfast foods available, having a spot to grab your essentials (keys, purse, glasses, cell phone) as you leave, then you’ll have a better chance of moving through your morning routine without so much stress and with getting “out” on time. If any one of those systems breaks down, it will absolutely make it harder for you to effectively manage your time. Investing in your physical environment will naturally boost the flow of your day and your time effectiveness.

 

These days when people are so busy, how can they integrate organization into their schedule?

Busy is a choice. Organization isn’t magic. It requires time to set-up effective systems and it also requires time to maintain them. However, no system should be so complicated that it is too challenging to maintain. Small daily organization habits can be easily worked in. One of the simple strategies I suggest is full circle thinking. If you open a drawer, close it. If you take out your keys, put them back in the same spot. If you fold the laundry, put it away. Focus on what you’re doing so that you complete as you go rather than leave lots of loose ends and partially organized projects. Those completion steps take only minutes, but will have a positive effect on feeling more organized and less frenzied. In essence, you’re introducing mindfulness into your daily organizing habits.

 

What are your top scheduling tips for busy people juggling multiple roles (work, family, education, volunteering, etc.)?

Make sure you have a great calendar that supports the way you visualize time. For many, a calendar that is organized as vertical weekly dated works very well. This can be digital or paper. If you prefer a paper calendar, Quo Vadis has some wonderfully designed options that I highly recommend. Be consistent with recording your appointments. Color-code your different roles so that at a glance you can see where your time is being spent each week. Pay attention to the color time blocks and also the white space or unscheduled time. Make sure you give yourself enough white space for transition time, life’s emergencies, or downtime. That white space is essential. We need time to do nothing or to do things that reenergize us. Don’t ignore the value of a good night’s sleep. While some may feel that sleep is a waste of time, in fact, it’s essential for the body and mind to rest. Most experts recommend adults should get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Sleep has a restorative value that leaves us refreshed and ready to manage all that awaits us. It’s like our own personal reboot.

 

What are your top 3 recommendations for ways people can be more organized?

Adopt a “less” mindset. The less we have, the easier it will be to get and stay organized. The less crammed our schedules are, the easier it will be to enjoy our downtime. The less we hold on to things that no longer serve a purpose, the easier it will be to let go.

Create homes for the most worthy. Knowing where to find your things will reduce clutter and help you be more organized. However, before you invest time in creating a home, ask these questions:

  • Is it home worthy?
  • Has it overstayed its welcome?

If you answered, “no” to either question, it might be time to let that thing go and not give it a permanent place to live.

Clear the slate. To maintain organization, get in the habit of returning things to square one. Put the dirty laundry in the hamper, file the paper, clear off your desk, and reroute objects to their “homes.” Integrate this “clean slate” routine to the end of the day. You’ll end and begin each day with more mental clarity and organization.

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