image via Stylizimo blog with text added by me
It’s January – a fresh start, a new year, post-holiday season – and doesn’t that put everyone in the mood to declutter, pare down, and get organized? Today I’m excited to have an interview with Barbara Reich, a professional organizer based in New York City who works with clients to streamline and organize their belongings and their lives. Barbara has been featured in the New York Times, InStyle, House Beautiful, and many more publications, in addition to appearances on Good Morning America and The Today Show. As an organization lover, this is a career that I’ve always been curious about, so I’m super excited for this interview. Also – at the end of the post I’ll be sharing a fun new series that I’m starting here on the blog, so read on for details on that!
Please tell us about your career path and how you go to where you are today.
After working as an accountant and a consultant in corporate America for almost 10 years, I started Resourceful Consultants, LLC and gave birth to twins four months later. For the next few years, I chose clients based on flexibility and lifestyle, so I could be with my children while they were young. One day, a former colleague gave my number to a client looking for someone to organize his office. She did this without asking me first, and just said, “You should do this.” So I did, and I loved it! I had never really heard of a Professional Organizer, but that’s what I began to call myself. My business grew exclusively through word of mouth recommendations, and that referral turned into another referral (and so on). Today, I meet with two clients a day, four to five days a week. I am also the author of the book Secrets of an Organized Mom, winner of the Mom’s Choice Award.
What is the day-to-day reality of being a professional organizer? What do you do each day?
What I love about my job is that it’s different every day. In addition to organizing people’s physical spaces (rooms, closets, cabinets, drawers, and shelves), I also may work with architects and decorators designing the storage in a home, I work with children on organizing for academic success, I develop house manuals for families, help train household help, organize moves, consult with companies looking to develop organizational products, do special events (like the one I did for Madura recently), I’m a keynote speaker, I help with digital de-cluttering and paper management, and I work with clients on time management.
When working with clients, what are the biggest obstacles you see that keep people from being/staying organized?
When organizing a home or even a closet, there needs to be momentum until the project is complete. Any area that’s only half done won’t ever get done unless the time is spent finishing.
What is your approach with a client who is resistant to decluttering?
Once they see how much time they save (not looking for things), how much money they save (by not buying things they already have), and how less stressed they feel living in an uncluttered space, the resistance fades away. I try to start with an area that bothers the person so they can see results right away.
What are your top three, most useful tips for getting and staying organized?
-Group like things together (all batteries should be in one place, all light bulbs should be in one place, and all black sweaters should be in one place)
-Once things are organized, use a label maker to label where everything belongs. That makes everyone in your home accountable for putting things away.
-Eliminate anything that you don’t love, anything stained or beyond repair, and anything that you don’t use.
Barbara collaborates with Madura, so I asked her to share her favorite Madura products that she recommends for getting, and staying, organized:
Using home décor as a way to stay organized:
-Trays to corral clutter: One | Two
-Using magazine holders to organize your magazines and books.
-Using storage as seating: Madura Sitbox Stool
Since this is NYC, please share with us your top tips for staying clutter-free and organized in a tiny space.
Most people don’t know that you can use your home décor and accessories to actually corral your clutter. Curtains are a great way to divide a small space or to hide eyesores, like an ugly wall or plumbing. A sitbox, like the one from Madura, is a great way to store toys or games. Not only does it add extra seating, but it doubles as a step stool!
Do you find it better to tackle a home decluttering/organizing project all at once, top to bottom, or do you advocate for a more slow approach (for example, tackling one room per weekend)?
It depends on the specific space and the personality of the client. Most people can’t work for more than 3-4 hours at a time, and sometimes, even one room is too much. If an area is dense with clutter, the person may need to start with a closet or even a few drawers.
Thank you to Barbara for taking the time out to answer my questions! If you or someone you know is interested in professional organizing as a career, you can visit the website for the National Association of Professional Organizers for more information.
While we’re on the subject of organizing and decluttering, I wanted to introduce a new series that I’ll be sharing each week, called Organizing Tip of the Day. Each Friday I will share a great organizing, decluttering, or even styling tip, that hopefully you can use to help you make your home a space that you love. Some will be quick things you can accomplish in five minutes, while others may be longer projects that you could tackle over a weekend. Others will be styling tips that you can use to make your home look and feel better. Organizing and decluttering are two things that I’ve always been obsessed with since the time I was a little girl, so I’m psyched to start sharing my tips. Look out for the first post this Friday…and of course if you have any questions or specific things you’d like me to cover or post about in this series, feel free to let me know!