I’ve posted about this before, but it’s so critical to a successful organizing project that I wanted to post it again. How do you know when you or a loved one will be successful working with a professional organizer? Over the years, I have found that a lot of it has to depend on where the client is in the Steps of Change model. I pasted in a picture of this model above, but in case that’s hard to read, here are the steps (quotes and image are courtesy of Virginia Tech University):
Step 1: Pre-Contemplation. “People are not thinking seriously about changing and are not interested in any kind of help. People in this stage tend to defend their current bad habit(s) and do not feel it is a problem. They may be defensive in the face of other people’s efforts to pressure them to change.” With regard to getting organized, people do not see their disorganization as a problem in this stage.
Step 2: Contemplation. People are open to considering the negative consequences of their bad habit, but are ambivalent about their ability to change. They may agree that they are disorganized and the disorganization is causing problems in their life, but they do not believe in their ability to change and improve their situation.
Step 3: Preparation. “People have made a commitment to make a change. Their motivation for changing is reflected by statements such as: ‘I’ve got to do something about this — this is serious. Something has to change. What can I do?’ This is sort of a research phase: people are now taking small steps toward cessation. They are trying to gather information about what they will need to do.” They may research professional organizers or read books/blogs about getting organized.
Step 4: Action. People believe they can change their behavior and are actively taking steps to eliminate their bad habits. In organization, people are scheduling sessions with their professional organizer or are following the methods in a book/blog/video to get organized. They are actively letting go of things and putting organizational systems/behaviors into place.
Step 5: Maintenance. “People in maintenance constantly reformulate the rules of their lives and are acquiring new skills to deal with life and avoid relapse. They are able to anticipate the situations in which a relapse could occur and prepare coping strategies in advance. They remain aware that what they are striving for is personally worthwhile and meaningful.” They are making time to work their organizational systems. They are being mindful of what they bring into their home. They are taking steps to regularly remove what they don’t use anymore.
Optional Step 6: Termination or Relapse, depending on which model you look at. Some researchers say Termination is the last stage. It is where the person is not tempted by their old bad habits anymore. They have no temptation to relapse. Other researchers believe Relapse is only natural, and it gives the person the opportunity to really assess and confront things that might continue to trigger them in the future.
When is it best to work with a professional organizer? The biggest bang for your time, energy and money comes when the client is in Stage 3 or 4, Preparation or Action. In years past, I have tried to work with clients in Stage 2: Precontemplation or even Stage 1: Contemplation (usually at the behest of a desperate parent or spouse), and I can tell you it doesn’t work! The client has to want to make changes, be accepting that the change comes from within them (versus being the responsibility or fault of someone else), and believe in their ability to make change long-term, even if it means they will need continual support in order to maintain those changes.
So once you are in Step 3 or Step 4, please give us a call here at reSPACEd. Our professional organizers have years of experience and many “tools” in their “toolkit” to help you reach your organizational goals. We approach each client with kindness, compassion and patience as we support you on your journey to change.
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