Over 60 (or almost) but not ready to retire from your organizing business?

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Organizing is a rewarding career, but it can be quite physically demanding, especially once you’re over 60. Many of my clients are in or approaching this age bracket but love their work too much to pack it in, and I’m pleased that Hazel Thornton is here to share some alternate services you can offer. Hazel has appeared here many times as a guest blogger, commenter, Productivity & Organizing Blog Carnival sponsor,  and Productivity & Organizing Blog Carnival Megastar Blogger. 


I recently attended the NAPO2021 conference (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals). It was my privilege to co-present a breakout session, along with three colleagues, called “Yikes! I’m 60(ish). What Are My Options? Diversify and Continue Doing Work You Love”.

This session was a couple of years in the making, having been inspired by a POINT (NAPO Member forum) discussion about “Organizers Over 60”. It seems that we all, at some point in our sometimes-physically-demanding organizing careers, consider changes in our businesses triggered by changes in our health, physical condition, and evolving interests. We seek activities that are easier on our backs and knees. We want to keep working, but we’re not sure for how long. And sometimes we realize there are other aspects of organizing that now (or always did) interest us.

We were originally scheduled to present this topic at NAPO2020, but that conference was cancelled, as were most other events in the world that were scheduled for April 2020. This year’s conference was completely virtual, and our presentation was pre-recorded. That freed us up to answer questions in a virtual chat before, during and after the presentation. The session was well-attended, and the chat was lively. I was glad to have three co-presenters to help answer questions!

Our short YouTube promo video appears above.

In the presentation, we each described services that we actually provide, and offered resources for others getting started. This list might give you some ideas to consider for yourself:

Hazel Thornton, Organized for Life

  • Virtual Organizing
  • Photo Organizing
  • Genealogy Organizing & Research
  • Products, Books & Blogging

Janet Schiesl, Basic Organization

  • Running an Organizing Business with a Team
  • (Don’t miss Janet Schiesl’s blog post about her new subscription service, recently featured right here on Your Organizing Business: How I Expanded My Residential Organizing Services. This service wasn’t included in our session, but it certainly could have been!)

Susan Kousek, Balanced Spaces

  • Creating Home (and Small Business) Inventories
  • Organizing Digital Files
  • Organizing Financial Documents
  • Organizing Life Documents
  • Speaking for Fees

Ellen Faye, Productivity Leadership Coach

  • Coaching
  • Productivity Consulting

The session is available at NAPO.net > Education > NAPO University > Conference Recordings > CR1-717 Yikes!. The cost is $0 for NAPO2021 attendees; $15 for NAPO members; and $30 for Non-Members. It includes a 78-minute video and printable slides. The slides include a link to Resources, Speaker Info, and Mastermind Guidelines.

How might YOU consider diversifying your business?

What other easy-on-the-knees services can you think of that are not on the list?

I recommend...

Hazel Thornton, creator of The Clutter Flow Chart Collection, is a virtual organizer and family historian based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She combines her genealogy research and organizing skills to help clients tell the stories of their families and their most treasured belongings. Her forthcoming book is called What’s a Photo Without the Story? A Guide to Leaving Your Family Legacy. Visit her online at www.org4life.com.

Join the Conversation


  1. Avatar Seana Turner on May 12, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    What a powerhouse of presenters! Such a terrific presentation, and I love the diversity of ways that you all have expanded your businesses to fit your current needs while still providing excellent value to clients. I think this information is valuable to so many, even beyond the organizing world. It is important to always be thinking about how to stay nimble and adapt your business model. Love that two of you are part of Blogging Organizers, who were well represented at the NAPO Conference!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 13, 2021 at 12:50 pm

      I agree, this information is valuable to professionals in many different industries.

  2. Julie Bestry Julie Bestry on May 13, 2021 at 1:27 am

    It was SUCH an excellent presentation, and it’s given me a list of actionable items to work on in the next six years until I’m sixtyish! 😉 I’m particularly intrigued by expanding my efforts in written documents and investigating home inventories!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 13, 2021 at 12:52 pm

      Writing more should definitely be in your future plans. You’re so good at it!

      • Avatar Ronni Eisenberg on May 17, 2021 at 9:14 am

        Welcome to the wonderful world of where has the time gone!? I gladly join this group and can definitely relate to the difficulties of some of the organizing services that take a toll on our backs and our knees.
        I started online teaching programs and virtual workshops a year ago as the pandemic hovered over us. I love it, have enjoyed each presentation and didn’t mind not having to fight traffic and Metro North ( trains!).
        I don’t know if I will ever retire as it doesn’t seem to be in my spirit to do so. As long as there are opportunities, I’ll be there. Congrats to all the wonderful women who have been able to guide others through their knowledge, skills and experience!

      • Julie Bestry Julie Bestry on May 18, 2021 at 12:12 am

        Also, I didn’t even know non-members could watch. I bet lots of novices would be fascinated to know all the different low-impact specialties available.

        • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 18, 2021 at 12:33 pm

          Yes! Possibly people who have retired and are considering a second career and may have thought it was too late for them to get into this field.

  3. Avatar Janet Schiesl on May 13, 2021 at 7:44 am

    I was honored to present my take on continuing the work I love with my colleagues at the NAPO 2021 Virtual Conference. The seminar is filled with great information by all four of the presenters that gives organizers many options for moving your business forward to work for you as you age. Thanks for the shout out Hazel.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 13, 2021 at 12:53 pm

      It’s such an important topic! I’m glad to see it being covered, especially by a couple of my long-term clients!

  4. Avatar Sara Skillen on May 17, 2021 at 7:35 am

    This was such a great session – I’m still 50ish (ok, 54ish), but so many of the options presented caught my attention and made me do some thinking about all of the possibilities available to us as organizers. What an amazing profession I’m lucky to find myself in, especially with inspiring colleagues like the presenters.

  5. Avatar LISA GESSERT on May 17, 2021 at 8:14 am

    very timely piece as I contemplate retirement…I am 63!

  6. Linda Samuels Linda Samuels on May 17, 2021 at 9:09 am

    What a great video! I love seeing all of your faces and excitement for what organizing at 60ish can be like. You all are inspiring! Redesigning my business is something that has been on my radar for many years. I’ve tested things out to see what felt viable and exciting. And there were times when I couldn’t imagine NOT doing hands-on organizing work. Several things happened over the last years (including a pandemic,) and that brought me the clarity I needed to morph my business into offering virtual organizing only. I absolutely love it, and so do my clients. After doing hands-on organizing for close to 30 years, this 61-year-old body is delighted to do less physically demanding work and more cognitively stimulating work. I’m so happy to be in the time I’m in.

  7. Avatar Jonda Beattie on May 17, 2021 at 10:03 am

    Loved this presentation! A lot of great ideas. At 77 I continue to adapt my business and keep it fresh and enjoyable.

  8. Avatar Janet Barclay on May 17, 2021 at 1:25 pm

    I love that you’re all declaring your ages, and that you’re all still in love with your work. Especially you, Jonda – you are an inspiration!

  9. Hazel Thornton Hazel Thornton on May 23, 2021 at 9:53 am

    Since we haven’t gotten official feedback from conference evaluations yet, it’s nice to hear that people appreciated the presentation!

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