Continuing the series of interviews with professionals related to getting organised, I am really lucky and grateful to have Ingrid Jansen answering a few questions for us today.
Ingrid runs her own organising business (Organise Your House), and is also currently the President and Conference Organiser of apdo-uk, the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers here in the UK – so was the perfect person to ask a variety of the questions that my lovely facebook readers gave me when I recently asked them “What question would you ask a professional organiser if you had the chance?”
I hope the answers help you to understand a little more about the role of a professional organiser, and give you an insight into all the different ways that they can help in your life.
There are some great tips and information you may not already be aware of in this interview, and I want to thank Ingrid for taking the time to answer so many questions for us! I hope you enjoy the fresh perspective today, and without further ado, let’s get going!
What are the main reasons people hire you? What are the main problems that you see?
“Over the years I’ve helped people declutter every possible room or area in the house – from lofts to garages, under stairs cupboard, linen cupboards, toy rooms, utility rooms, bedrooms, kitchens etc.
Although every home and every client is different there are two main problems that I see in nearly every house: paperwork and clothes.
Once you get those two under control the whole house flows better and feels more organised.
It’s important to create systems how to deal with paperwork and clothes, do a big purge/declutter and organise what needs to be kept.
For paperwork that means setting up a good filing system and for clothes it means to have the washing cycle under control”
Where do you usually start when the whole house needs organising?
“It really depends on how cluttered the house is.
If the house is very cluttered I start with the entrance hall, hallway and stairs as these areas need to be free of any obstructions so it’s safe for me and the client to move around.
If these areas are already decluttered and organised I almost always start in the bedroom because I believe that once my clients have less clutter in their bedroom they can sleep better and then get more energy to tackle other rooms.
Another favourite area is the kitchen. It’s the heart of the home and it’s a heavy use area which should work well and be very organised. Life immediately improves with a streamlined kitchen.”
Is it always necessary to have the client with you when organising or decluttering? How do you deal with people who want you to sort their clutter for them as opposed to you helping them decide how to sort it?
“I always declutter and organise with my client. I never work alone.
It’s important that my clients learn how to organise and declutter by themselves instead of me doing it for them.
I show them how to set up when they want to start decluttering (one bag for recycling, one for the rubbish and one for the charity shop) and which questions they should ask themselves if they find it difficult to let go of items (do you use it, do you love it, if no to both questions => why keep it?).
They need to build up their confidence and then they can learn to do it by themselves.”
Who would you recommend hires an organiser? (i.e. is it just for hoarders?)
“I would recommend everyone who feels overwhelmed with clutter to hire an organiser – it’s definitely not just for hoarders, it’s for anyone wanting a more stress free life.
The earlier you get help the less time it takes to get you back on track. The benefits of being organised are so much greater than living in chaos.
There are loads of different reasons why people call me:
- They have been ill and want to get back on top of things
- They are expecting a baby and they want the second bedroom to be cleared
- They have decided to work from home and the home office needs sorting out
- They are moving home and need help downsizing
- There has been a bereavement and the family needs help sorting out the house
- They have moved house and still haven’t unpacked fully and they are tired to look at boxes of stuff.
So I would encourage people to never be afraid to call in for help. I’m happy to talk to anyone who feels they need an extra pair of hands to sort themselves out.”
Mine is the worst home you will have ever seen – what if I’m too embarrassed to have you come and help me?
“After working in this job for 4 years no house will be the worst I’ve ever seen, so please don’t be embarrassed to let me in and don’t try and tidy up before I come over!
You have already taken a very important step and that is to call for help. The most difficult part is to realise you are overwhelmed and actually take action to do something about it. That’s half of the battle won already!”
If someone asks you to get them more organised, what happens if the rest of the family aren’t on board yet?
“Then you start with an area they have responsibility for.
It can be their own room, the linen cupboard, the kitchen, craft room, etc.
Once family members see the benefits of being more organised it has a positive influence on their way of thinking and they might become more enthusiastic and want to be involved.
You can’t get anyone to get more organised unless they want to”
What happens if someone needs you to declutter a friend or family members home but they are not ready?
“If a family member or friend contacts me about someone else the first question is if the person themselves are ready to declutter.
If not there is no point in me going over for a consultation to assess the current status of the house. The motivation must come from the client, otherwise my help will be a waste of time and resources for everyone concerned.”
Do you have any top tips for people wanting to get more organised?
“What I would like to share is that organising takes time.
Nobody has a magic wand to let clutter disappear, especially if it has been there for a long time.
Furthermore it’s important to start with a small area and not try to tackle a whole room in one go – Set a timer for 30 minutes and just do one cupboard, one drawer, etc.
Finally it’s important to decide where an item has to live.
Clothes, shoes, jewellery, underwear all go in the bedroom. Books, CD’s, DVD’s, computer stuff belong in the living room. Cleaning materials, hoover and ironing board all live in the under stairs cupboard.
Once used, return the item to where it should go instead of putting it somewhere to be put back later”
Organise Your House was founded in 2010 by Ingrid Jansen – a 40-year old Dutch woman living in London since 2008. She started Organise Your House to help other people be and live more organised, so they can enjoy their lives and be less stressed. Ingrid prides herself in re-using and recycling as much as possible. Her favourite items to declutter are clothes and paperwork. She also enjoys getting kitchens back in shape, sorting out toy rooms and living rooms and unpacking after a house move. Ingrid is currently the President & Conference Organiser of apdo-uk, the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers here in the UK. If you need any help decluttering or organising your house call her for a free consultation. She works in South-East & Central London, Kent and Essex. Her motto is “Let’s clear the clutter”