on my profession

January, 2016

I love answering the ‘what do you do?’ question – wherever I am, whomever I’m with, it provokes interest and discussion.

People are captivated to hear I’m a member of the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO). Mostly people don’t know APDO exists but are glad it does and I’m asked all sorts of questions: Do I tell people to throw stuff away? (No) Is it like those hoarder programmes on the telly? (No) Do I know about Marie Kondo? (Yup - and I’ve seen her demonstrate how to fold clothes!).

Towards the end of last year a blogger, Judy Heminsley, called me up to ask if she could quiz me in her research for an article about decluttering sentimental items. Hopefully I gave her some useful tips and ideas. I also waxed lyrical about my profession. Judy thanked me for my time. 

It’s delightful to be thanked, but, to tell the truth, I was thankful too - not just because it’s intensely flattering to be ‘found’ on the internet and asked for my professional thoughts, but also because I love talking about my work. The more I talk, the more I learn, and the more I reflect on my profession. So much so, I want to share – here goes:

  1. Professional Organising is the fitness training of the future. Twenty years ago, if I heard someone waxing lyrical about their fitness trainer, a bit of me thought it was rather an indulgence. Today I think ‘of course you have a fitness trainer, they’re all over the place and it works – go you’.
  2. Being overwhelmed with stuff is a common, universal problem.
  3. People who employ professional organisers are completely normal. They’re not exclusively celebrities or high net worth individuals. They’re people who want someone with (to quote a client) ‘no shared DNA’ nor shared history. They want an experienced professional who will (like a fitness trainer) work alongside them and help them achieve their goal, whatever that is.
  4. Professional organisers are also completely normal. We vary in personality, approach and working styles. I don’t know any member of APDO who wouldn’t advise a potential client check out other local organisers before deciding who to employ. Some fitness trainers are enabling, some more directive and prescriptive, most have some kind of speciality. Organisers are the same. It’s about finding the right one for you.
  5. This is a growing profession and it’s nationwide. Membership of APDO increases exponentially year by year. I reckon that in the next decade the response to hearing a reference to ‘my professional organiser’ will be “good for you, I need one of those” and it’ll be widely known that APDO is the place to start.

Image taken at APDO Conference 2015 by Alessandra Gerardi.

"Dear Caroline, I just wanted to write to say a massive and heartfelt "thank you" for all your hard work in helping me sort out my flat. As you know, I had such a sense of complete overwhelm regarding all the junk I had accumulated, especially since the death of my mother, I didn't know where to start, and felt deeply ashamed of letting things, literally "get on top of me". I couldn't move for the piles of clothes, paper and general "stuff" that covered the floor entirely. It was deeply depressing and getting me down, yet I felt stuck and unable to tackle any of it on my own. "

- K, London N5

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