Virtual Organizing: Bringing Different Organizing Needs To Different People
In this new COVID-19 climate, we have all had to adapt. One way that I have adapted, along with many of my fellow professional organizers, is to shift my sessions from hands-on, in-person organizing to virtual organizing. And anytime we do something different, we learn something new.
Virtual organizing is organizing from a remote location. I am in my home while you, the client, are in your home. The biggest challenge with virtual organizing is that I am not able to physically help. My body is ready to spring into action, by moving, sorting, and organizing. Yet because we are virtual I am forced to slow down, listen more, and use words to encourage you and direct you through the organizing process.
The Four Organizing Needs
The slower pace of virtual organizing has allowed me to identify 4 different needs people have that must be addressed (by themselves or by their organizer) in order to reach their goals: Organizing Techniques, Strategy & Planning, Coaching, and Accountability. Most people have a blend of these needs and don't fit into any one category.
I. Organizing Techniques: Sort, Divide, and Conquer
The Need: An organizer that will provide you with techniques and tips while guiding you through the organizing process.
You need organizing techniques if you:
Aren’t sure how to get started
Have tried to declutter or organize before but keep getting stuck
Would like someone to walk you through each step of organizing so you can understand the process
The Example: My experience with Stephanie Frumkin from Silver Spring, MD is a great illustration of the need for organizing techniques. Stephanie wanted to get her kitchen in order and wasn’t sure where or how to begin. After a brief discussion, we decided to start with her utensils. I then guided Stephanie through the process of removing all her utensils, sorting and categorizing them. When Stephanie seemed confused, I would give her a tip or ask her a question. Stephanie explained how this process felt to her: “When I got stuck, [Jill] calmly guided me and never made me feel embarrassed or pressured in any aspect of the process.” About 15 minutes into the session, Stephanie declared, “Oh, I get it now!” The next day, Stephanie sent me a quick note about our session: “It is inspiring me to create more of a system in terms of what I do.”
II. Strategy & Planning: Who, What, When, & Why
The Need: An organizer that can provide you with a framework. With this framework you might even be able to organize on your own.
You need strategy if you:
Don’t have systems in place for many routines such as mail, laundry, donations
Try to clean up a room but don’t have “homes” for many of the items
Need a roadmap to transform the function of a particular space
The Example: Amy Stolls of Washington, DC was frustrated by her clutter. We had been working on various rooms in her house since the spring of 2019 and making steady progress. But with current events, I couldn’t be present with her in her home. This had happened once before when Amy was busy with work. She couldn’t find 4 consecutive hours to schedule an in-person session so we filled in the 2-month gap by scheduling virtual 1-hour sessions. During those sessions, Amy discussed what was bothering her and I organized her thoughts and created a list of items for her to work on until our next virtual session along with tips where appropriate. When we met again, Amy would update me on any developments and I would create a new “to do” list. This month, Amy is stoked because she needs some organizing in her vacation cabin. It doesn't matter that the cabin is far away since we will be continuing to organize virtually.
III. Coaching: Bringing Out the Best In You
The Need: An organizer that can support you in making your own decisions and give you the confidence to know you can achieve success.
You need coaching if you:
Feel overwhelmed or anxious at the thought of organizing
Recently experienced a life change or transition (divorce, new baby, pandemic)
Are comforted by the idea of having someone alongside you while organizing
The Example: Wanda Seays from King George, VA needed help with her home office. She told me that every time she walked into her home office she was overwhelmed with anxiety. This anxiety was so strong that she couldn’t even begin to make a dent in her paper clutter. We spent an hour clearing Wanda’s desk with the help of her sister. Because I wasn’t in Wanda’s home, she was in control of her space. I only saw the papers that Wanda wanted me to see. Wanda described this process: “The biggest difference for me between virtual organizing and in-person organizing was that I felt less anxious being video coached.” When Wanda needed to make a decision, I would support her with clarifying questions and assure her that there was no wrong answer and that she was doing great. Wanda told me: “I can still hear your voice when the clutter tries to ease back into my office space. Thanks for your patience and compassion.” In this case, the coaching support during our virtual organizing session helped her conquer her clutter even after our Zoom session concluded.
IV. Accountability: Sustaining Momentum
"The only way we succeed as a group is not simply following directions, but in keeping each other accountable for our actions."
― A.J. Darkholme
The Need: An organizer that can track your progress from week to week so you don’t backslide.
You need Accountability if you:
Want someone to track your progress
Work well with deadlines and a clear goal
Know that having someone present during organizing will ensure that you actually organize
The Example: Every single person needs accountability in order to progress on their organizing journey― it is the most important need. When I work alongside you, my presence ensures that you will sort through those annoying papers. You are not able to say that you will sort through that box and then go take a nap. I can see you! And after that hour of organizing, you have a few homework assignments to complete. On your own, they might get done - who knows? However, if you know that you are meeting with me in a week or two, then you are far more likely to tackle that homework list.
Virtual Organizing & The Four Needs
So, there you have it― the 4 organizing needs. And you don't need an organizer to be physically present in order to address those needs. Virtual organizing through Zoom can be even more effective for clients that have anxiety, need a more affordable solution, have small blocks of time, or would like to work at a slower pace.
What is your organizing need? Let me know…