Non-Traditional Ways to Offer Organizing Services

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book group

Today I’m delighted to welcome back Ellen Delap, who’s going to share some great ideas for helping clients who aren’t ready to have a professional organizer come into their home or office, but need more assistance than you can provide through a formal workshop or presentation.


My professional organizing and productivity business is about making a difference for those struggling with clutter and disorganization. I have found that there are many ways to assist my clients, not only the traditional one-on-one consultation in homes or offices or speaking engagements.  Those struggling may not be ready for you to work in their space with them. They may need a way to learn to trust you in a neutral, non-emotion charged setting.  They may need more of a baby step to bridge the gap in getting started.  They may work better in a group setting and need the support of those also struggling with the same problems.  Two strategies I suggest are a clutter support group and a book group.

Clutter support groups focus on helping clients get started on decluttering their home.  In establishing my group, I wanted to facilitate their work at a distance.  In doing this, the structure included 6 weekly sessions, one and a half hours weekly, with a weekly “success story” time.  Members chose small projects that they worked on in their home or office and shared their stories each week.  During our meeting time we discussed, strengths, challenges, and strategies to help them in their work. They brought in before and after pictures of their work to share with each other.  During meetings they were each other’s advocates and supporters.  For additional information on establishing a clutter support group, the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) offers a booklet on managing and maintaining a clutter support group on their website.

Book groups focus on creating awareness for change.  The first step for change is creating an awareness of what might be holding you back and your struggle with organizing.  Book group members might just be at the very beginning of the organizing journey, not even ready to start organizing. In establishing the book group, I chose Linda Samuels’ The Other Side of Organized as our reading material.  Each week for 4 weeks we read a section, discussed what was holding you back, what was propelling you forward and what was possible for you.  Group members shared openly and honestly with each other about their successes and struggles.

The logistics of running each group is a little different.  The clutter support group was hosted in a community room (behind closed doors, for confidentiality) and the book group was at a Starbucks.  There was a minimal fee for clutter support, and only the cost of the book for the book group.  Members learned about the groups through their therapists, community articles, my website, and word of mouth.  Participants’ backgrounds varied in both groups, including hoarders, those slightly challenged by clutter, people with health issues, and those with situational disorganization issues.  Both groups were limited to 8 people to insure interaction and signed a commitment contract to be sure to attend all meetings.

I want to share what one group member said for you to truly appreciate the work that happens in these groups.

“I’ve never been much to work toward goals, mostly “putting out fires” as they arise.   So really visualizing what I wanted to do in my home has been incredibly motivating.  Finishing my project and working towards two more have been very uplifting.  I appreciated the concept of “balance” and realizing that perfection is not the goal.  One of the moments that I have enjoyed the most in my classes was when my creativity kicked in!”

I hope this blog inspires you to make a difference in a new way in your community!

Illustration by / DepositPhotos

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Ellen works with professionals, work at home businesses, small business entrepreneurs and especially with clients with ADHD.

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  1. Avatar Joan Ogner on June 15, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I was so inspired by this article! Many people are not ready to commit the time or money to an organizer in their space. They know that clutter is getting the better of them but need to tackle it themselves, at least for now. The book group and clutter support group are innovative ways to bring organizing methods to clutterers! THANK YOU!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on June 15, 2012 at 4:38 pm

      That Ellen is one smart cookie, isn’t she?

    • Avatar Ellen Delap on June 20, 2012 at 9:46 am

      So glad this article gave you more ideas and perspectives to help other and how people can look for innovative ways to make change. Thanks for posting!

  2. Avatar Julie Stobbe on June 20, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Thanks for offering your experiences and challenging us to find ways to help people gain control over their environment.

    • Avatar Ellen Delap on June 20, 2012 at 9:47 am

      I love helping people and there are so many ways to make change happen. It starts with awareness and that is what these options offer. Thanks for posting!

  3. Avatar Linda Palmer on November 10, 2012 at 12:13 am

    This is very timely for me, as I have just been thinking about doing this exact same thing! Thanks for this very useful information.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on November 12, 2012 at 7:14 am

      Awesome! I’d love to hear how you make out.

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