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5 myths about working with a home organizer

by respaced on December 11, 2017

Working with a home organizer can be a positive, life-changing experience! But some people are reluctant to reach out for help because of misinformation about what professional organizers do. Here are 5 myths — and 5 truths! — about working with a home organizer.

MYTH: Home organizers will make you throw things away.

TRUTH: We at reSPACEd are horrified and appalled when we hear about other organizers doing this, particularly on organizing-related tv shows! Throwing things away without the client’s consent is rude, traumatizing to the client and ultimately ineffective at teaching the client how to live a more organized lifestyle. So we put the client in charge of deciding what they want to keep and what they want to discard. No exceptions.


MYTH: We are rigid perfectionists.

TRUTH: The vast majority of home organizers are not perfectionists, because it’s actually hard to be a perfectionist in this industry. Organizers don’t have ultimate control over the finished project (only you, the client, have the ultimate control!) so that reality tends to scare off people with perfectionist tendencies from this field.


MYTH: We will judge you/make fun of you/gossip about you behind your back.

TRUTH: We know a lot of our clients feel a great deal of shame about their space. Often times, we organizers are the first ones to enter the client’s home in years. We feel deeply honored to be trusted by our clients to help them with a such an important, extremely personal project, and we don’t take that privilege lightly. We never forget that we are guests in your home. As such, we never judge, tease or gossip about you or your home.


MYTH: Organizers spend their days putting chalkboard labels on Mason jars and alphabetizing spices.

TRUTH: Most of our days are spent side-by-side with our clients, coaching them through the decision-making process, and project-managing their organization project. We are knee-deep in stuff, wearing comfortable, closed-toe shoes, on our feet for hours, moving heavy boxes around and running items up and down stairs. It’s physically and cognitively demanding work with nary a glue gun nor chalk pen in sight. I’m not sure who is putting chalkboard labels on every inanimate object on Pinterest, but it sure isn’t professional organizers.


MYTH: Home organizers will be exhausting to work with.

TRUTH: We at reSPACEd consider it extremely important to work at the client’s pace. We want to make sure organizing sessions are not too overwhelming or exhausting. So we set a timer to go off every hour to remind the client to take a short break and drink water. We check in with our clients throughout the session to see how the pacing feels. We have multiple strategies for either speeding up or slowing down the organizing sessions, depending on what the client wants. Clients tell us they don’t feel rushed when they work with us. We are glad to hear it!

Like this post? Then like our Facebook page. In need of home organizing or unpacking services in the Portland, Beaverton or Lake Oswego area for your home or office? Contact us for a low-cost assessment and get a bid on your project here.

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30 Christmas gifts to give kids that are not toys!

by respaced on December 4, 2017

I first wrote this list 5 years ago when my son was 7. He’s turning 12 soon (yikes! Where does the time go?) and I still find myself returning to this list each year, but now it’s to find something to give him other than Legos. Don’t get me wrong –we love Legos. It’s just that it’s nice for him to have something else to do after he has put the Legos together. (Legos seem to just sit on a shelf on our house, never to be touched again once they have been put together.)

And I still do not want to contribute to the toy clutter when giving gifts to his younger relatives and friends. I don’t ever want to give a present that burdens somebody. So here is an ever-growing list of 30 gifts to give kids that are not toys.

1. Flashlight

2. Booklight

3. Nightlight

4. Slippers

5. Bubble bath

6. Reusable lunch sack or lunch box with water bottle

7. Alarm clock (Nathan still loves his Darth Vader alarm clock!)

8. Notepads and fun pencils

9. Sketchpad and pens, markers or colored pencils

10. Temporary hair dye or hair chalk

11. Books!

12. Calendar

13. Fun toothbrush

14. Backpack

15. Cozy blanket

16. Chocolates

17. Gift certificates for ice cream or frozen yogurt (This is my go-to gift for summertime birthday parties.)

18. Crazy socks, sunglasses or fun hat

19. Hair accessories (yeah, only works for a girl)

20. Movie tickets (That’s a big winner in our family!)

21. Subscription to a children’s magazine like Highlights or Cricket

22. Gift cards to go somewhere like the zoo, Children’s Museum, a concert, a play, ice skating, roller skating, etc.

23. Bath soap crayons

24. Washable paints, brushes and smock

25.  Mani/pedi day

26. Walkie-talkies (this was one of Nathan’s FAVORITE gifts, and it’s a huge hit when his friends come over.)

27. New sheets/pillowcases for their beds with their favorite characters on them

28. Their own tape (Scotch, duct, electrical, etc.)

29. Activity, dot-to-dot, Sudoku, maze books

30. Glue gun, soldering kit for older kids

What other fun, useful NON-TOY gifts can you come up with for a little kid? Post them in the comments below!

Like this post? Then like our Facebook page. In need of home organizing or unpacking services in the Portland, Beaverton or Lake Oswego area for your home or office? Contact us for a low-cost assessment and get a bid on your project here.


How our home organizers work with clients with ADHD

by respaced on November 29, 2017

Portland Professional Organizer

Many of our organizing clients (about 65%) have told us they have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), so our organizers have developed strategies over the years to make organizing sessions easier on these clients. Here are just a few of the tools that we use:

1. We schedule shorter organizing sessions instead of long sessions (e.g. 2 hours instead of 4 hours).

2. At the beginning of the session, we explain the structured 4-step organizing process we will be using, so clients can know exactly what to expect.

3. We check in with the client throughout the session to make sure the pacing and the strategies we are using are working with the client’s energy level and mood.

4. If clients feel overwhelmed by the amount of clutter, we can use a sheet to cover up the areas we won’t be tackling that day.

5. Along the same lines, we can pack up a box with things to sort and take into a safer room or out on the patio to sort, if the room we are working in brings up feelings of overwhelm.

6. We make a concerted effort to keep the sessions light and fun by chatting with clients throughout. This can make a task feel like it’s zipping along!

7. Every hour, we take a 5-minute break and remind clients to drink water and eat a snack, if necessary.

8. We stop 30 minutes before the end of the session to put things away, dump trash and recycling, and clean up.

9. We never assign homework in between sessions unless the client specifically asks us to.

We love working with our clients with ADHD, and I especially love this population’s sense of humor, creativity and desire to make things fun! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have ADHD and have been struggling with disorganization at home. We would love to lend a hand.

Like this post? Then like our Facebook page. In need of home organizing or unpacking services in the Portland, Beaverton or Lake Oswego area for your home or office? Contact us for a low-cost assessment and get a bid on your project here.

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Home organizers organize tiny house in San Francisco homeless program

November 22, 2017

I was searching for a good Thanksgiving-related story to share with you on this blog when I came across this incredible act of kindness two organizers showed a houseless woman living in a tiny house down in San Francisco. These are fellow organizers in the same professional association I belong to. Here’s the story: Several […]

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5 ways reSPACEd organizers make home organizing fun (or at least more tolerable!)

November 15, 2017

Let’s face it: a dusty, musty room heaped high with long-forgotten clutter is usually a bit of a kill-joy. It’s so much easier to just close the door and tell ourselves that we will “get to it later.” But if you find that “later” never seems to come, then it’s time to find ways to […]

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This home organizer’s secret to getting her son to let go of his old toys

November 13, 2017

Many of you who have known me over the years know that one of my toughest organizing clients has been my own son. For a while there, the speed at which he was getting new toys, books, clothes and games far outpaced the speed at which old, neglected toys were leaving the house. That is […]

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Self-Test: Is your clutter out of control?

November 3, 2017

Boy, I love a good a self-test! This particular test is not one you will find in Cosmo magazine anytime soon. Instead, this test from ADDitude magazine helps you figure out if your clutter has become a Significant Problem (this is definitely not a test to determine a medical diagnosis, such as Hoarding Disorder. Instead […]

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Should you let a friend or home organizer help you get organized?

October 31, 2017

Some of my clients have told me that their family has balked at their decision to hire a home organizer and have wondered why they couldn’t just have a friend help them get organized instead. The Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) came up with this great list of questions to help you figure out when […]

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Easy Bedroom Closet organizing tip

October 27, 2017

In most closets, I notice that people tend to store shoes on the closet floor, usually in one of those shoe racks that impales the shoe on a wire rack. That’s why I like what this gal did with her closet. She installed inexpensive shoe shelves from Fred Meyer on the topmost shelf of her […]

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8 Q & A’s about reSPACEd’s home organizing services

October 25, 2017
Thumbnail image for 8 Q & A’s about reSPACEd’s home organizing services

We recently joined Thumbtack, and I really liked the questions they had us answer as part of our profile. I’m including them here, because I think they are useful to think about when hiring a home organizer. How does your service stand out? Since 2008, we at reSPACEd have been working with busy families, professionals […]

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