Happy 25th Anniversary, Professional Organizers in Canada!

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Professional Organizers in Canada (POC) was founded in 1999, the same year I completed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® qualifying program and became intrigued by the relationship between an individual’s organizing and time management style and their personality type.

I joined POC shortly after establishing my business in the summer of 2002, on the advice of Margaret Miller, who was President at that time and one of the association’s founders. Since then, I’ve watched the organization go through many changes.

When I joined, there were fewer than 100 members across Canada.

National Board

A few months later, Margaret asked me to step in as Director of Membership. This mainly involved preparing membership kits and sending them out to new members, but as the organization grew, so did my workload, to the point where I actually had to recruit a volunteer to look after the membership kits while I attended to other Board responsibilities.

By the time I stepped down from the National Board in October of 2005, there were over 500 members, representing all 10 provinces.

Janet Barclay with the Professional Organizers in Canada National Board, 2005

POC National Board of Directors, 2005.
Back row: Alex Fayle, Jane Veldhoven, Krista Clive-Smith, Janet Barclay.
Center row: Karen Shinn, Elaine Shannon.
Front row: Jane Woolsey, Laurene Livesey Park, Morva Bowman, Joel-Marc Golberg.

NOWeek

One of POC’s major initiatives at the time was National Organizing Week (NOWeek), held the first week of May until 2021. The main purpose of the event was to raise the profile of the association and the organizing profession by volunteering organizing services to other non-profit organizations.

In 2003, I volunteered alone to organize a file storage room for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hamilton Burlington, which was a huge project that brought me back to their location several times before it was finished. POC provided a press release template, so I customized it and sent it to my local media outlets. I didn’t hear back from anyone, so I was amazed when a reporter from the local TV station showed up to interview me for the news!

In later years, I had the opportunity to work with other local organizers at Ronald McDonald House and Habitat for Humanity.

NOWeek has since been replaced by World Organizing Day on May 20th.

Website Redevelopment Committee

The most exciting project I participated in as a POC member was the redevelopment of the website (perhaps that should have been a clue as to my future direction). With the growth of the organization, we needed a more user-friendly navigation system and a membership database that tied directly into the registration process. It’s challenging to work with a volunteer committee strictly by email, but thanks to a few core members, we were finally able to go live after more than a year of planning and working with a developer. That was in 2006, long before the current website was launched.

Chapter Meetings

When I joined, I was part of the Toronto Chapter. I’m actually not sure if there were any other chapters yet. Later I was part of the Southwestern Ontario Chapter and then the Halton-Peel Chapter, which was actually close enough for me to attend regularly.

There is nothing like being in a roomful of people who share your passion, but one of my favourite meetings was a mini organizing expo, where we had reps from a number of local businesses, including a shredding company and Mabel’s Labels, who were still fairly new at the time.

I’ve since had the honour of speaking at many chapter meetings, including the three mentioned above, North-GTA, Cyber, and the Niagara Networking Group.

Annual Conference

Of course, the Annual Conference was always a highlight! Being with like-minded people is amazing enough, but combine that with education, food and fun, and you can’t go wrong.

I had the pleasure of attending as a member every year from 2002 to 2006, and was there when they gave out the first Silver Leaf pins to professional organizers who were in business for at least five years and members in good standing with POC for at least two years.

A photo of the first members of Professional Organizers in Canada to receive the Silver Leaf designation.

First Silver Leaf recipients, 2005.
Laurene Livesey Park, Karen Sencich, Harold Taylor, Margaret Miller, Estelle Gee, Debra Milne, Donna Campbell, Elaine Jermy.

I returned as a speaker in 2010, 2011, and 2015, when I hosted the first in-person meet-up of the Blogging Organizers group. I’ve heard that there have been similar gatherings at other conferences, but this is the only one I’ve attended myself.

A photo from the Blogging Organizers Meet-up at the Professional Organizers of Canada Annual Conference in 2015

Blogging Organizers Meet-up, 2015.
Kim Tremblay, Kathy MacEwan, Jill Robson, Heather Burke, Sarah Buckwalter, Janet Barclay.

POC is currently planning for their first in-person conference since  before COVID, and I’m sure it will be amazing.

Relationships

A year or so after I joined POC, fellow Board member Hellen Buttigieg asked if I would be willing to look after her electronic newsletter, as this was something I did for my own business that she wasn’t interested in learning to do herself. That made me realize that I got more pleasure from working on my computer than from hands-on organizing, and I began to evolve from a professional organizer to a virtual assistant. I left POC in 2008 after deciding to stop organizing professionally.

Margaret Miller and Hellen Buttigieg

I’d like to mention that not only did Hellen have a key role in changing my business, but she’s still my client over 20 years later! I also met Julie Stobbe of Mind over Clutter and Mind over Clutter Courses, another long-time client, through my involvement with POC.

I made some wonderful contacts as a POC member, and it was because of them that I created Your Organizing Business. Many have since retired or moved on to other ventures, but through this blog and the Blogging Organizers Facebook group, I’ve been able to maintain strong ties with many while growing my network to include organizers from the US and overseas.

Although I didn’t stay in the field, Professional Organizers in Canada was instrumental to getting my business established. I am truly thankful for the professional development and leadership experience and even more thankful for the opportunities to form and grow lasting relationships.

Happy Anniversary, POC!

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A former professional organizer, I now eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

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16 Comments

  1. Avatar Julie Stobbe on February 8, 2024 at 8:54 am

    Thanks for sharing all you memories and experiences. It brought back memories for me too.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on February 8, 2024 at 10:43 am

      Thanks for letting me know about the anniversary! I didn’t realize how new POC was when I joined.

  2. Avatar Elinor Warkentin on February 8, 2024 at 9:09 am

    Lovely to read your POC history. You were my first roommate at my first conference and a great connection since.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on February 8, 2024 at 10:42 am

      I remember that – we had a lot of fun, didn’t we?

  3. Avatar Evelyn Ward on February 8, 2024 at 12:51 pm

    So fun to remember my days with POC. Thanks for this.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on February 8, 2024 at 3:42 pm

      It was truly my pleasure! I’m so glad you found your way here and said hello. It sounds like you’re up to something very rewarding these days.

  4. Avatar Seana Turner on February 8, 2024 at 4:28 pm

    It’s fun to look back and see how an organization has impacted your life, right? Relationships are one of the richest aspects of life, and it is such a blessing to have them. Fun reading about how professional relationships ended up greatly impacting your career choices. Sometimes that happens – inspiration and lightbulb moments coming from places we might not have thought to have looked.

    Also great to see how you were involved in the early days. That must feel really good!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on February 9, 2024 at 8:31 am

      It does feel good, and I’m especially grateful for the relationships I formed which have continued to this day.

  5. Avatar Colette Robicheau on February 9, 2024 at 5:41 am

    What a wonderful journey. Thanks for sharing.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on February 9, 2024 at 8:33 am

      And you were part of that journey! We didn’t know each other well, but I remember chatting with you between sessions at one of the conferences, and it was really fun to cross paths again in a different association a couple of years ago.

  6. Linda Samuels Linda Samuels on February 12, 2024 at 10:18 am

    What a wonderful history of POC and your involvement with the association! I loved reading about your journey. Even though I knew some of the story, there were parts I didn’t. I love how you organically found the path that led you to what you’re doing today. I’m also happy that we met along the way.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on February 12, 2024 at 11:49 am

      I’ve probably missed a few parts too – it’s amazing all the things that came back to me while I was writing this!

      I’m glad we’ve met too. 🙂

  7. Avatar Sabrina Quairoli on February 12, 2024 at 10:55 am

    It’s great to learn about other Professional Organizing associations in different countries. Thank you for sharing the recap of what has been going on over the last 25 years.

  8. Julie Bestry Julie Bestry on February 12, 2024 at 6:14 pm

    Honestly, I would say that you DID stay in the field of professional organizing, just in an associate or adjunct capacity. You help organize the digital/marketing world of so many professional organizers and productivity specialists, ensuring they can serve their clients. And you do SO FREAKIN’ MUCH to support our industry that I don’t know how you’re not an official part of POC, NAPO, or IFPOA!

    I’m delighted that you shared this history of our sister organization to the north. I recognize all of the names, and all but two of the faces in this post, and you and I started our businesses around the same time, palling around on Ryze.com and then on the other social media platforms, us following one another day-by-day, figuring out how to be “social” professionally online.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on February 13, 2024 at 11:58 am

      That is so sweet of you to say! And we really have been friends all that time, haven’t we? I’m grateful for your support when I was planning this blog, and for everything you’ve done since. I’m glad I got to check “Meet Julie Bestry” off my bucket list when I went to NAPO 2014!

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