Many times when we as professional organizer are working with clients we hear and see competing versions of the same story. Sometimes the clients have underlying issues, sometimes they have a hard time setting boundaries, and other times they may be covering for someone in their family. I find it interesting to to take a look at what I see vs. what they say. In case you missed it, this is Part 2 of my post, “My Organizing Clients: What They Say vs What I See, Part 1.” Here are some real life examples from some of my past clients.
My Organizing Clients: What They Say vs. What I See
1.) What they say: My kids (adult children who don’t live there) didn’t like the new way we organized this space at all. They really want to go back to the old way I had it.
What I see: I see a woman who really likes the new space. It calms her down and makes her feel happy. I see a woman who has a hard time setting boundaries or saying no to her adult children. I tell her to give it some time, they will get used to it.
2.) What they say: I moved in a few months ago and have mostly unpacked. I just don’t know what to do with these last few boxes of stuff.
What I see: I see boxes of junk that should have been sorted and thrown out before the move (would save money on the cost of the move). Most of the boxes only have three or four items to keep the rest is literally trash. Sometimes clients just needs someone there to tell them it’s okay to throw stuff away.
3.) What they say: My husband collects tools. I need your help organizing this garage so we can get a car in here.
What I see: I see a beautiful home, a nice garage and a husband who is a tool collector/possible shopping addict. I see three or four sets of the same tools over and over. Brand new and never opened tools, drills, lightbulbs, engine oil, etc. I do my best to help organize all of the tools and unblock the garage. The wife says her husband loves his tools. I tell her I can see that. I say maybe now that they are organized he will know what he has (and not have to buy more). He’s not my client so there is only so much I felt I could say.
What I see: I see mouse poop everywhere. On surfaces, in crates, and I find a nest in a pair of work boots, a nest in a bag of rags and a nest in a $600 Pottery Barn Jute Rug they want to sell. I have to have a mask, gloves, and move everything out to have them clean and pressure wash before containerizing every single thing going back into the garage. What I see is a mouse problem. (Not to mention a broken down car in the driveway due to a mouse chewing through the wires).
What I see: I see a few interesting odds and ends that one would pick up as a tourist from different countries. Not museum quality just tourist shop knick-knacks. I called an appraiser just to make sure. Some of the larger items would be nice as displays in homes but most of it is simply years of souvenirs.
6.) After digging in the bottom of a box that has been buried for awhile nearly every client I’ve had will say, “I’ve been looking for that!” or “I can’t throw that away it’s valuable.”
What I see: It’s hard to make them understand that if things are so important and valuable then why have they let them get buried in a box under a pile? If it really is valuable let’s treat it like it is and find a safe a special place for it. Man clients have a hard time figuring out what is valuable (monetarily and emotionally). That saying, “If everything is precious, then nothing is” comes to mind.
7.) What they say: I need to shred these 20 or so boxes of paperwork from all of our properties dated back to the 1950’s. I’m just having a hard time letting them go.
What I see: (This is a sad one) I was fascinated and wanted to know why she held onto all of this paperwork. The simple answer was handwriting. She’s 85 and her husband passed away suddenly ten years before. She wanted to keep the paperwork because his handwriting was all over it. I convinced her to keep a few things with his handwriting and let everything else go. I still hold her close to my heart.
If you would like to read more about de-cluttering check out the first post in a series about clutter, 5 Reasons People Can’t Stay Clutter Free: Too Much Stuff