, an initiate of the Iota Chapter at University of Texasshares her story.
“You want to do what?!? Is that a ‘real job’ or just something you saw on Oprah?” This is a direct quote from my husband when I told him that I wanted to drastically change my career path and follow my passion to helping people get organized. Not exactly the support I was looking for at the time, but his reaction was understandable given the risk (and he’s come around)!
Funny enough, the first time I heard of a “professional organizer” was on an Oprah show episode, which I saw during a study break in the Chi Omega house at the University of Texas. At the time I thought, “Wow! That is so ME! I would love to help people organize their lives, but since I’ve spent the last four years learning the ins and outs of the advertising world, I guess I should give that a shot first.”
My gift for organizing, including motivating and training others to become organized, became evident to me in college. It wasn’t until college that I realized that not everyone is organized! I grew up in an organized home with two organized parents and I naively thought this was the way everyone lived. When I was personnel chairman, my advisors were wowed by my organized filing system (back then, there were no online forms – everything was hard copy!). When I found myself without anything to do during my advertising internship at a boutique agency, I organized the supply closet (How could these people live like this?!? How did they find pens or post-its?). And I organized the Exec office, supply closet and cabinets at the Chi Omega house a number of times.
Through my experience as personnel chair, I also became comfortable with public speaking. As an alumna, I’ve continued to hone my presentation skills through my involvement with the Nancy Walton Laurie Leadership Institute of Chi Omega presentation team. These leadership and facilitation skills are vital to my job as an organizer, as one of my responsibilities is to educate the public on organizing strategies and techniques. In addition, as personnel chair I learned how to have conversations about personal topics (money, behavior, roommate struggles, eating disorders), through which I gleaned sensitive information from others and gained knowledge of how to build a strong level of trust and rapport. This trust and rapport is imperative to build with my organizing clients, many of whom have strong personal and psychological reasons for their clutter.
Chi Omegas were also crucial to helping me get my business started. My strong Chi Omega network assisted me in building a client base and getting speaking gigs when I had none. Thank you, Sisters!
My Chi Omega experiences and Chi Omega connections helped build a strong foundation for my success as a professional organizer and continue to foster my achievements today. Take advantage of the opportunities provided through Chi Omega, both as a collegiate and an alumna. Chi Omega is truly for a lifetime!
I just can’t let this opportunity go by without passing on a few organizing tips. I’ll close with a few of my favorites:
What to do with all of those Chi Omega t-shirts you can’t bear to live without? Turn them into a t-shirt quilt. Here are a couple of online resources. You can also Google quilters in your area to find a t-shirt quilter in your area.
Have a hard time deciding which clothes should stay and what should go when organizing your closet? Take 10 minutes and turn all of the hangers in your closet around backwards. The tip of the hanger point should face out at you. Then, after wearing an item of clothing, hang it back up the normal way. After six months and definitely after a year, you will have a very clear visual picture of what you wear and what you don’t. It’s been said that we wear 20% of the clothes in our closet 80% of the time. Does this hold true in your wardrobe?
According to the “You Can’t be too Organized Survey” recently compiled by IKEA, people who were surveyed said, on average, they spend 6 minutes looking for their KEYS in the morning. Women with shoe racks were seven more times likely to be on TIME for work than women without shoe racks. Hang a hook by the door in which you enter your home and get in the habit of ALWAYS putting your keys there. And it sounds like getting a shoe rack is a good idea! Wonder if IKEA has any……
Julie Morgenstern, one of the pioneers of the professional organizing industry and a time management expert, authored a great book entitled Never Check Email in the Morning. Morgenstern states that technological advances such as e-mail have pushed us into what she dubs the “instant response culture.” As we work in “staccato” mode, we don’t ever slow down to “legato” and set aside time blocks to tackle complex projects. We might seem busy as we answer email on our iPhone or respond right away to text messages, but are we busy doing things that are of highest priority that will help us achieve success at school or work? Block out chunks of time throughout the day (know when your high-energy time of day is and capitalize on that) to tackle the one or two things that must be done that day.