Yes. Virtual organizing has been around and effective for much longer than this recent COVID-19 quarantine. However, our current degrees of isolation are making virtual organizing more attractive than ever before to both organizers and those looking for organizing help.
Surprised? You might be. Yes organizers can, and often do, physically redesign your office or room layouts, remove your clutter and set up your files and spaces. Yet, the more important and valuable benefit of what they do (what you are really paying for) is what you don’t see. It is the things you experience when working with a professional organizer and the resulting benefits of those experiences.
Whether in-person or virtually in-person, a professional organizer is a pot of gold when it comes to processes, goal setting, motivation and innovation. Partnering with clients from deciding where to start, to trouble-shooting client-specific challenges, to supporting continued maintenance – an organizing and productivity specialist is the way to go.
If you have already worked with a professional organizer, start there! Contact them and ask them if they are running virtual sessions or, if not, ask if they would consider trying one with you. I recommend sticking with someone with whom you already have a good rapport.
Otherwise, the National Association of Productivity and Organizing professionals (NAPO) and it’s local chapters (here in the Philly area it is NAPO-GPC) are the places to start. NAPO professionals invest in their businesses, training and professional development to make sure they are bringing the best services to their clients. What’s even more exciting is that, since they will serve you virtually, you could choose an organizer from literally anywhere!
During this time of COVID-19, many of us are experiencing some degree of isolation and limitation in our lives. Some of us are eager to get back to an unrestricted lifestyle and others are cautiously waiting it out until stronger assurances are announced. Either way, the support of a professional organizer will help unravel difficult decisions, set up successful solutions and motivate you to stay on track. It is a service that you may decide works best for you even after the quarantines are lifted!
While we’ve been sheltering-in-place and social-distancing, I’ve been thinking about all the traveling I’ve done. Whether it’s a quick overnight or weekend trip or something longer, like 2 – 3 weeks, I’ve been remembering my wallet and how it gets filled with all sorts of paper not related to anything I needed to carry with me.
My wallet has been filled with receipts, ticket stubs, candy wrappers, etc. Were all these extraneous things necessary to stuff into my wallet? For me, this was the best place to keep all these items temporarily until I got home, when I could empty my wallet, file what I needed to keep in their respective “homes”, and discard the rest (I sure didn’t need to keep a candy wrapper). Do many of you have things like this in your wallet all the time?
How much you can fit in your wallet is really a metaphor for how much you can fit in your surroundings. Are you ready to “Empty Your Wallet” (and I don’t mean emptying it of money)? I’m talking about your wallet representing how light you would feel if you emptied your life of all the extraneous things that don’t need to be kept in it. What is actually important to you? What do you really need, not want, to keep in your life to make it seem less weighty? The 4 benefits of having an “empty wallet” are:
“Do not wait: the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work whatever tools you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along.” Napoleon Hill
Now is Your Time to “Empty Your Wallet”
First, we want to acknowledge that walking up to a perfect stranger and selling the idea of your business isn’t easy. Not everyone will be happy to see you and you need to be willing to expect and accept some rejection. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will feel, and when it starts to pay off and your calendar starts filling up, you’ll be plenty glad that you went for it!
Networking is a marathon, not a sprint.
People need to get to know and trust you before they will use your business or refer you to others. Show up consistently and you will be rewarded!
“Networking is an investment in your business. It takes time and when done correctly can yield great results for years to come.” – Diane Hilbig
THE FOLLOWING NETWORKING TIPS WILL COME IN HANDY:
Always set goals. Goals can be small; schedule 3 one-on-one meetings or get 10 email addresses, but always start your day with a purpose. This helps you hold yourself accountable and helps you track your improved networking skills!
Show genuine interest in other businesses. Be prepared with a list of questions to find out what their problem points are so you can craft the best message to address their needs. When you ask questions of other businesses, it shows you are interested in them and want to learn from them as well.
Give a little, get a little. Build allies and refer business to other members and they will be much more likely to return the favor.
Take notes. Promptly after a meeting, make note of who you spoke with, their position, any other names that were mentioned, personal information, and any interesting anecdotes they may have mentioned. These notes will be invaluable when you draft a follow up email and for future meetings.
Follow up! Never leave an office after a first meeting without setting up a one on one meeting for the near future.
Always wear branded clothing. This is free advertising that invites the question, “What is ___”?” You may be surprised by how much business can come from just walking around and showing off your company name.
No matter who you are meeting with, always be sure to travel with the following items:
• Business cards – always keep in your wallet and car.
• Brochures – keep some extra marketing folders and brochures specific to target industries available for that unexpected encounter with a potential referral partner.
• Giveaways – whether it’s sunglasses, pens, or magnets, branded items make a lasting impression; more so than business cards, and are visual reminders to use our service.
• A good attitude and a smile! – You are the face of your business. Impress everyone you meet with your cheery demeanor and your passion for the business, the environment, and your community.
While sheltering-in-place we’ve been spending a lot more time baking. And wouldn’t you know: Stressed Spelled Backwards is: Desserts!
I saw that catchy phrase after delivering my 5th batch of muffins in April. To avoid gaining the dreaded Covid-15 (think Freshman-15) I delivered Tupperwares to my neighbor, who appreciates my zero-sugar recipes.
With my last delivery of cranberry-sweetened pumpkin millet muffins, I wrote “sorry for dumping my stress-baked goodies on your doorstep.” She texted back “TY” with a link to “Stress-baking is a real thing!”
My 3 favorite therapeutic benefits to baking:
This “proof of progress” is where I want to focus.
I don’t know about you, but I am:
• losing a sense of what day it is
• not as productive as I was before Covid-19
• feeling less accomplished despite feeling almost as busy
So I reflected on the tools I used before Covid-19:
Here’s why I’m returning to these habits:
I can’t take credit for figuring out…stressed spelled backwards is desserts!
We are all adjusting to our present environment. I stopped at Wegman’s on Friday afternoon and saw over 70 customers with masks standing about six feet apart and circling around half the huge store. It was a strange feeling and I felt like I was in an old Twilight Zone episode from the 1960’s. I believe the title of the episode could be “Social Distancing” since we hear this term so frequently. I believe it more accurately should be called “Physical Distancing”. Physical Distancing is a more appropriate description as we are looking to have physical distance but not looking to limit our social interaction. I am using Physical Distancing in this blog.
I am in the auction business and have had the opportunity to work regularly with Professional Organizers. I have been impressed to recently learn a good number of Professional Organizers offer virtual organizing services. Even more impressive is how many have been virtually organizing with clients for years. Virtual Organizing maintains the physical distancing needed in our challenging environment while providing the social interaction and discipline to focus on tasks. I know this is not always easy when you try to organize alone…
What Can I Sell?
An auction specialist can efficiently help professional organizers and their clients as there is need to sell personal property by identifying valuable items through pictures. Pictures provided electronically (emails, texts, digital albums, etc.) are physical distancing appropriate and the timeliness and efficiency helps keep an organizing project moving forward.
The technology available to provide pictures including details like artist signatures and manufacturer or maker marks has been part of a dramatic change in the auction world over the past 25 years. Wait times to coordinate an initial visit and get started have largely been replaced with progress and information much more quickly through introductory phone conversations and pictures.
There are many people who have inherited or collected items through the years and these items fill their storage spaces and extra rooms of their homes over time. Many of these clients are what I call “Stuffocating”.
Those feeling like they are Stuffocating do not know how to get started dealing with it all and have little idea which of their old and vintage items have value in today’s market. Their items look like they could be valuable or have family stories indicating they are valuable. I often hear comments like “Aunt Flossie said these were worth money” or “I saw one that looked just like this on “Antiques Road Show”. They often can use some help from a professional organizer and/or auction house to have an effective plan and make noticeable progress.
Physical Distancing for Bidders at Auction
Technology introduced over the past 25 years has helped the selling side of auctions to continue with physical distancing intact. Internet bidding platforms make it easy for buyers to bid on their cell phone, iPad, computer or any device connected to the internet.
Bidding by phone with an auction associate or leaving bids in advance is often available as well. Many auction houses have also added live online bidding available through their own websites.
Auction previews on-site are extremely limited presently. However, good online catalogs provide auction bidders with descriptions and auction estimates as well as an array of pictures showing detail for each item being sold. Online catalogs are typically available on the auction house website as well as the internet bidding platforms.
The Twilight Zone
We are in a dimension of challenge and spacing. Through technology and creativity, we can function in the world of organizing and auctions while we may feel like we are ….In the Twilight Zone.
Author is Tim Zeigler, Kamelot Auction House, www.kamelotauctions.com. Direct contact at 215-815-4983 and .
A recent RieOrganize! poll on Facebook came up with the following: Stay at home. Boredom. Facebook. Zoom meetings. Gratitude for front line workers. Frustration about having to wear a mask. Death. Telecommuting. Homeschooling. Social isolation.
Until recently, I knew of only a handful of friends who were dealing with COVID-19. Most were friends who live out of town or who were dealing with their friends/family members who were dealing with the virus. Yesterday, I was told that a friend is in the ICU with novel coronavirus. While we were not close friends, we did keep in touch over the 30+ years that I’ve known him and his husband.
What I realized today, however, was how much I did not know about them. For instance, who is my friend’s next of kin? My immediate answer would be, of course, his husband. But his husband died last week of a non-coronavirus-related illness. I don’t know if he has a health care directive or, if he does, who is listed as the alternate proxy because his husband just died – or where this document is located. I know that his husband took care of most of their financial, legal and daily responsibilities. I don’t know who will be responsible for all of that now and, more importantly, nor does anyone else. Everyone is scrambling to try to figure out what to do!
While this is indeed stressful and sad, I have to ask myself and you…
· How many of us or our friends or family members could find themselves in a similar situation?
· Have we taken care of our own medical, legal and financial paperwork? If we have, does anyone know where it is located or have easy access to it?
· Will you or someone you know find themselves sick or dying alone with no one who knows what you would want to happen medically or, if you should die, with your belongings?
According to our informal Facebook poll, not everything in our world today is discouraging, heartbreaking, disheartening or grim. Looking at some of the memes on Facebook or Instagram can make you smile or laugh out loud.
There is little wrong with cooking or baking too much, using Zoom or Facetime to be connected to friends, relatives and colleagues, binge watching Netflix or taking naps. There is much kindness, laughter and sharing. Neighbors are helping neighbors.
This can be a time of transformation – interpersonally, socially, economically and globally. It can be a time to focus on the people and things that are important in our lives.
And this is where we all come in to transform our world into a better place in which to live. Thinking about medical and financial preparedness is not high on most people’s lists of things they want to do, but, especially during this time, it is essential.
First, we should examine our own paperwork. How prepared are we? Then, we should take a look at our contact lists. Who do we know who may need help?
Few people want to talk about the possibility of being sick or dying. In this age of COVID-19, it is imperative that we do so and that we talk with those whom we love and help them to prepare as well.
This is something that cannot wait. Please take steps to ensure that someone will know what you want to happen if you are unable to speak for yourself.
Stay well, stay safe and stay home… and if you are one of the many who must go to work to keep us safe, healthy, fed, informed or otherwise (relatively) sane, thank you.