Last week we were joined LIVE on our Facebook Page by the amazing, and very knowledgeable, Tracy Ross of Blissfully Organised.
Tracy is a Professional Organiser and a member of The Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO). ⠀
Tracy started her company – Blissfully Organised in 2011, following an 18 year Marketing career working for brands such as ESPN and ITV.
We had a great chat with Tracy and wanted to have a look at the different people she works with and also the different aspects that she can work on and then answered lots of questions that were posted by those watching live.
Below we set out some of the questions and responses, but if you want to catch up with the video CLICK HERE!
Tracy’s contact details are below should you have any other questions, please do get in touch with her, she is very helpful and knowledgeable.
So for the questions and the all important answers (I have paraphrased some of this ;))…
A lot of the comments that we have received so far refer to Marie Kondo and her series on Netflix. Specifically about the way she folds clothes. Is this part of what you do?
If you could also give us a little brief outline of who she is and what she does.
Marie Kondo is a Professional Organiser and she has her own technique of organising with client and has a specific way of working through a space and this never changes per client. The thing that she is most well known for is her way of folding, clothes, towels and that is her big thing. Marie doesn’t work for everyone although most houses I go to, have her book but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can organise independently. Marie Kondo is FABULOUS for our industry, although she is not right for everybody as sometimes you need to be more adaptable for some clients.
The FOLDING is amazing and I do show some of my clients how to do this, if they think they can maintain it.
LIVE COMMENT: I loved reading her books but then couldn’t put them into practice until I met you!
Often, the thing I find is that some clients just need some time booked in with someone else to feel motivated and I can guide them through the session. If you are working on your own it is a different strategy and make sure you don’t get overwhelmed, especially when the space can look a lot worse than when you started.
Is it usual for people to feel ashamed or embarrassed about inviting someone into their home when they are in a position where they really need support organising and decluttering?
I completely understand that and in the telephone consultation, I will talk about that and understand that they have taken a big step. When I arrive, I know exactly how they’re feeling and have dealt with this for nine years so I know what to expect and know how they will be feeling about it.
Some people won’t sleep the night before I arrive because they are anxious or nervous but the relationship is all about building trust and eventually their guard will go down and they will let me in further into their space and how they are feeling.
I am completely confidential, I don’t arrive in a branded van. I am as good a listener as I can be and am not bossy at all. It has to be a completely personal service and trust is built very quickly. I get to understand all the things that the person is feeling, as they may not have invited anyone into that space for years.
It is not just getting rid of things and organising, it is also talking about feelings rather than just just packing things up and moving them into another room.
What do you find clients are looking for (other than the obvious) what are some of the other common benefits that you find come out of what you do?
People call me for a whole variety of reasons, sometimes I just go for one or two sessions because people are moving or downsizing whereas some clients I have worked with on and off for the whole nine years. Some people will just take longer because we go at their pace and work through the space.
The number one thing that I think people want from is being patient, a good listener – we chat about all sorts of things whilst I am with them for 4-5 hours. The client will feel relaxed, knowing that we will get there and that I believe in them and add that sense of belief in the person.
LIVE COMMENT: Decluttering my home with Tracy has changed the way I run my home, my buying habits, how I view the ‘stuff’ in my home and how much more relaxed I feel when it’s organised.
There are various things that I do, firstly, I will declutter and decide what stays and what goes, then we will organise so that things can be maintained and stop the clutter building up again. One of the biggest things that I do is speaking about purchasing behaviours so that the client is aware of what they are buying and bringing into the home because if that doesn’t change then there will also be stuff coming into the home and cluttering the home.
I have tips that I can give to the client and one of those is going through the wardrobe and making the client aware of what they have. I use the hanger technique where you hang everything in your wardrobe the wrong way and once it is worn you put it back into the wardrobe the right way and then you can quickly see, over a three-month period, which items you are wearing and which ones you never choose. You can then look at why you are not wearing them, maybe wear them for a day and decide whether to keep it or not.
What stage do people get to before coming to you and asking for help.
Is it always the individual that comes to you or is it sometimes the children that come to you about their elderly parents?
When I am dealing with those with Dementia, especially in the early stages, it is often their partner or their adult children that contact me because things have got a little bit out of control and their focuses have changed but they would like some support in helping their parent or partner live independently for longer. I will then go and meet with the person living with dementia and their partner or adult children and discuss with them what can be done.
In most circumstances though, it is the person that wants the help that will contact me. The person needs to be ready, it is a very personal service and so they need to be ready to buy into it. Usually, it is a very positive experience for my clients and they will see the value of what we do once it has been started.
If I go into a home and there are several people living there, I will only work on those things that belong to the person that has contacted me. Anything else is left to be dealt with by the person that it belongs to.
Do you have a typical client, that takes a specific length of time?
I can tell people, when I start, how long it will take to work through a space but what I cannot tell is how long that person will need to let go of things and work through things. It will depend on the pace of the person and how long it takes them to go through the process and understand the reasons why they may be feeling guilty or anxious about letting things go.
Often cleaning and decluttering causes tension and arguments, do you find this when you are working with individuals or families?
I can often come in as a mediator and take the friction away.
Although it is often the case that each person thinks that their possessions are necessary but their partner’s may not be as much. Sometime, I will begin working with one client and have been engaged without them discussing this with their partner and their partner will begin to see the changes and may even get on board and I will start working with both of them.
LIVE COMMENT: What are your favourite types of clients?
I just love working with the variety, every client I see is different and every house is different.
I love seeing when clients ‘just get it’. It can vary in time but sometimes I will go back to houses and there is new furniture, it has been redecorated and I know how it was before and how it has transformed and feel that I have really helped and seen the change that has been made.
It is the feeling that I get from helping and learning from each client rather than a specific type of client because each of them are so different.
Some of the times and milestones that people will decide to get you involved must be common and one of those that was common question was preparing for a baby and having all those new and very necessary things coming into the home. Are you able to help and give guidance on this?
Yes, I work with a variety of people at this stage, sometimes this can be a couple expecting their first baby because even just bringing in the core essentials can be overwhelming and so look at their routine and where things can be kept that is most useful.
I have also supported people at the other end, where they are having their third or fourth child, that are overwhelmed with the amount of things already in the home to adding even more things for babies. We know that little babies come with an awful lot of stuff!
This is similar to preparing for a family that may be having an elderly family member come to stay with them and having a whole new amount of possessions coming into the home and organising this in to the most useful space.
Another aspect that we wanted to take a look at is working from home…it can be difficult to have that separation between a work space and your home space, and finding that balance.
This can be a real challenge. I have a few clients that have young families and have the flexibility to work from home but with that comes with different challenges and when they are working and are looking around and appear to be surrounded by chaos and so find it difficult to work.
I help a lot of these clients with time management and space management. Perhaps creating a space that is screened off from home life or having systems in place to help stop the distractions.
I would also say that most of these clients need help with paperwork management. This could be going through historic paperwork and getting back to point zero or just getting systems in place to deal with ongoing paperwork and setting up a filing system and having daily habits in place to stop it getting out of control.
We are often involved where there is a death of an individual, or where an individual moves into a Care Home, there is a whole family home full of possessions but they are either no longer around or no longer have the physical or mental capacity to deal with everything. This can therefore bring grief as well as all the other challenges that this type of work can bring. How can you deal with this?
This is quite a challenging situation and one thing that I work with is talking openly and speaking with people before this becomes and issue and downsizing as well as talking about the legacy that they are leaving to their children.
Where this is not possible then I usually work with the adult children and I will do a lot of the sorting work and sort things that I think are valuable and this can take a lot of time as I cannot possibly know what is important but I can try my very best to pick out those things that I feel will have sentimental value to the client. A lot of this work is to do with assumptions but I do work closely with the family and can send photos through and work through everything.
What do you feel is the most rewarding part of your job?
The support, physically, but often the informal counselling that my clients really value as I am not judgemental and genuinely care. I really like that my clients are able to share so much with me.
LIVE COMMENT: In your great article you wrote for us, you touch on increased anxiety and well being. How do your clients feel after you start them on the process? We can see Eileen raves about you and feels great about using your techniques you’ve given her
I see the clients often start by feeling quite scattered, anxious and overwhelmed but as we start to work together and clear the spaces, their decision making improves, their desire to be more sociable improves and they will often invite someone round for coffee when perhaps they haven’t done this for many years.
I can come in and work with them and get a lot off of their to-do list and clear a space and often there is a great sense of relief. Most people are really happy to maintain but just need some coaching with how to organise and get things in order and systems in place. It is lovely when you go back and see the systems that you have suggested, really work.
I like to speak to people about what their pressure points are and what is causing them stress during their day and then work through that. I look at how they move around their space and what they use so that things can be in correct places. This can then enable other people in the home know where everything is and where things are kept, to help the household as a whole have things organised in a logical manner.
Thank you so much Tracy!
Tracy also prepared a great article for us on:
Decluttering to Create an Organised Home for Independent Living