Being a Helping Hand
By Jennifer Snyder
In my business, my biggest competition is cousins and friends of the disorganized. We allow our "people" to help us get organized but what is organized for one person isn't necessarily organized for anyone else. In fact, such valiant more often than not make matters worse. So be careful who you let rearrange your stuff and if you are that benevolent helper, here are some tips to make sure you are doing what is best for your loved one.
First a word of caution
: This is precarious territory. How you handle this situation can make or break a relationship. Come into this project armed with patience, understanding, and sense of adventure and humor. The cluttered person is afraid of judgment. The smells of our home do not register with us, if smells are present and unpleasant, take out a bag of trash to get fresh air but do not, I repeat do not, make faces or comments that are anything less than loving and supportive. Now let's get to it.
Confirm they actually want your help.
It is only ethical to organize someone's things if they agree and are present – that includes spouses, parents, and children. Organizing while someone is away as a gift is no exception. Our belongings are our personal effects…personal. That is important!
Tread lightly with the trash bags.
The owner of the stuff – even if it is junk is the one who decides where it ultimately belongs. Discarding someone's belongings without permission is a deal-breaker. Period. It is our job as a helper to be supportive and help them talk through their feelings. You can make recommendations but they make the decisions.
Focus on the positive.
Cluttered people struggle varying aspects of the organizing process and deserve a lot of positive reinforcement and encouragement. This needs to be legitimate and authentic rather than a canned "good job" or "great". If you are unable to do this, then do not agree to help, please! Your most important role is cheerleader, not sorter.
Don't make fun, have fun.
These are belongings belonging to someone else. You may think it silly to still have a pair of acid washed pants from the 80s but that isn't your call to make. We all have silly things hidden away where only we can see, how would you feel if someone uncovered your old Dr. Martens or parachute pants?
It should go without saying that if you are organizing papers, that any financial information is none of your business. Unless you are a signor on the bank account, leave the financial documents for your partner to sort.
Happy Helping & Have a Neat Day!
Jennifer Snyder, Certified Professional Organizer
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