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    Your Organizing Business

    Where professional organizers learn and connect

An Interview with Professional Organizer Geralin Thomas

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Through my business, Organized Assistant, I have the privilege of supporting a number of successful professional organizers with various Internet marketing activities and other projects. One of my clients is Geralin Thomas of Metropolitan Organizing, a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization. Geralin has stopped by today to talk about the training she offers to newcomers to the field of professional organizing, and to experienced organizers who want to optimize their business practices.

Metropolitan Organizing - Geralin Thomas

Geralin, how long have you been a professional organizer?

I joined NAPO, North Carolina in August of 2003 and consider that my “official” start date.  Before that, I was on the ‘friends and family plan’, meaning I helped friends and relatives who knew I loved organizing people’s time, space and stuff.  I unofficially started calling myself an organizer a year before that.

How did you get started?

In elementary school, when we started diagramming sentences using the Reed-Kellogg system, I was in organizing geek heaven. I knew then and there that if organizing words could bring me such joy, organizing tangible stuff would be nirvana.

Once I had children of my own, the organizational skills had to grow exponentially. My two boys, born only 14 months apart, provided all sorts of organizational challenges – not just their stuff, but their time, their activities, and how everything fit into our family’s lives and our space. As every parent knows, children bring a new world of social networking, and the moms and dads I met all had their organizing challenges, too. I had fun helping solve some of their organizing puzzles, to the point where I realized this was a business opportunity; parents asked for my advice and hands-on solutions and were willing to pay for it.

What kinds of changes have you seen in the organizing industry since you started your business?

Thanks to TV shows, magazines, books and on-line programs devoted to organizing, storage, and time management, the number of professional organizers keeps growing. Technology does save time but generally we’re all  busier than ever. Phones and computers make us accessible 24/7, which means we don’t allow ourselves to have much free time. More people are working from home, and their home offices are usually much smaller than a commercial space. So, our lives, our stuff, our time, and our spaces need to be streamlined and efficient so that we can free ourselves for some relaxation.  Most Americans need a vacation from information; everyone needs to unplug for a while and recharge.

Another change in the organizing industry is a global approach.  Now, it’s easier to study how other cultures solve their space, time, and possessions issues. For example, a few years ago, I started reading about the (Japanese) Kaizen method of making continuous, small changes. The more I learn about how other cultures do things, the better I get at running my business and applying those fresh ideas to client challenges.

Please tell us about the training you offer for new organizers.

My Boost Your Biz Training is a high-octane question and answer session for new organizers who have been in the organizing business less than four years. It’s is a one-on-one program where they ask me anything they want related to organizing. It’s not scripted, so time isn’t wasted with dreadful introductions and sales pitches. It’s part hand-holding and part education. I’m not exploring the “why.”  I help new organizers cut to the chase; we explore the “what,” “when,” and “how” of offering professional organizing services.

Despite all the emailing, texting and online gadgets and gizmos, it’s more important than ever to feel connected with someone who can get to the point and be direct. That’s what I love doing.

Is your training accessible to professional organizers who aren’t located near you in North Carolina?

Yes. In fact, most of my professionals-in-training aren’t nearby. Metropolitan Organizing’s Boost Your Biz has clients in Europe, Canada and as far away as the Philippines. Some clients live in rural areas or remote locals where there aren’t any other organizing professionals; they’re isolated.

In addition, both NAPO and NSGCD offer teleclasses taught by well-respected, credentialed, experienced professionals.

Are there any resources you would recommend to new or experienced professional organizers?

Yes, I would advise them to explore a lot of websites and blogs outside the field of organizing. It’s beneficial to investigate business ideas and models from somewhat related areas, such as record management companies, interior designers, therapists, handyman services, personal chefs, fitness trainers, etc.

For parents reading this, your children’s teachers are probably among the best organized people you will ever meet – volunteer in the classroom and watch a master of time management, space management, and stuff management at work! When you’re at a friend’s house, see how they organize their kitchen drawers, or their child’s artwork and school supplies. You may be able to transpose an idea you saw for a kitchen drawer to a brilliant idea for sorting something totally different, like jewelry or office supplies. You never know what will jump out at you and trigger an idea for another application.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known back in 2002?

I wish I had known how much having a support system helps.

My advice is to get a daily dose of ‘vitamins’ like,  A, B and C.

Administrative

Before hiring you I put off tasks that exceeded my administrative capabilities. It’s a relief to hand over the tasks I dread doing to a trusted professional and focus on the parts of my work I enjoy most. I like it when I’m being productive and earning.

Books

For years I struggled doing my own books and making sense of the data I was tracking.  I was miserable.  This is not my strength.  Hiring a bookkeeper was one of the smartest things I did.  In a fraction of the time it took me, she dazzles me with colorful charts and graphs creating crystal-clear, useful information about my time and money.  I look forward to her monthly reports.  It energizes me to see this information.

Colleagues

Being an extrovert, I crave chit-chat. I enjoy hearing from other organizers and am inspired by what they are doing in their personal and professional lives. For years, every time I’ve reached out for advice, my colleagues have been there for me. It’s the very best feeling to pick up the phone or receive an email with sincere, genuine advice from a colleague who has been there, done that and willing to share their story.

I’m humbled by the generosity of colleagues near and far.

Janet, I’d like to conclude by telling readers how much I enjoy working with you and Scott. The quality of the work you do is top-notch, and your support means a lot to me.  I’m thankful for your brilliance; you make me look good!

Geralin, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to share this valuable information with my blog readers, and for your unsolicited testimonial!

Readers, if there’s something else you’d like to know, feel free to post your question either in the Comment section below or using the Ask a Question form, and I’m sure Geralin will be happy to answer it!

Gravatar mystery man

A former professional organizer, I'm now a Website Design and Care Specialist. I love helping others succeed by sharing the knowledge and insight I’ve gained through marketing my own business for over 15 years! When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

Gravatar mystery man

A former professional organizer, I'm now a Website Design and Care Specialist. I love helping others succeed by sharing the knowledge and insight I’ve gained through marketing my own business for over 15 years! When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

3 Comments

  1. Avatar Ellen Delap on March 9, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Love this interview!

  2. Avatar Janet Barclay on March 10, 2011 at 6:33 am

    Geralin is such an interesting person!

  3. Avatar Maria on February 17, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    This is really interesting. This will help people to be organized in all the things. Keep posting!

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