Beth Mickelson, owner of Fit for a Queen, spoke at TREK on May 2. The following is excerpted from the presentation transcript.
A professional organizer goes into people’s homes or offices and helps them get organized.
A little background about myself, then I’ll explain what I do when I’m organizing, and I’ll talk about entrepreneurship.
I have lived in Thief River Falls about eight years with my husband. Before that I lived in Fargo for about 20 years. Over my lifetime I’ve had the opportunity to work for an employer and for myself. Some of the employer experiences I’ve had were teaching, training, tech support, and working in a warehouse. Some of the entrepreneurial experiences I’ve had were raising sheep and cattle on a cattle ranch in Australia, building boutique amplifiers for guitar players, and I flipped some houses when we first moved to Thief River Falls.
Organized Means Functional
Now, I’m working as a professional organizer. So what is a professional organizer? “Organized” means functional, so when a system is functioning then it’s organized. Every situation is unique and what works for that individual.
As a professional organizer, I go into people’s homes or offices, work with them one-on-one, working through the principles of project management, because that’s what it is. Project management is basically going to include three steps—analyze, strategize, and implement/maintain. So, in home organizing I use the first two for sure. The analyze and strategize steps are less fun because you have to think about it, what’s working and what’s not working. Then you decide how you’re going to approach it and what needs to be changed to make the space function better.
When we have analyzed and strategized, the fun part is attacking the problem. To do that, you just break it down like any project management. First you take stuff out of the space and put it into categories. As an example, you realize that you have seven tape dispensers and five black turtlenecks. Once you’ve broken it down into categories you can see what you have. Now, we’re going to pair it down to what we actually need for this space to function well. So, we paired it down into keep, donate to someone else, and toss.
Once you know what you are going to keep, you assign a home to every object. Then comes the fun part—you can containerize it. One of the issues some people run into is that they want to containerize things first. They want to go buy all these fun containers, baskets, bins, totes, furniture even, but you don’t know what containers you need if you don’t know what you’re containing. You have to have your stuff paired down first.
Once pared down, you can assign it a home and then put it in containers, and all looks great. It’s functioning great and we’re basically done, except a really critical step—to evaluate how it’s working and maintain the system. That’s what organizing is. That’s what I do.
How We Got Started
I’ve always been interested in organizing and about four years ago, I started researching professional organizing. There’s even a national association of professional organizers, so I joined the national association, started taking classes, webinars, listening to speakers, attended a national conference, and did background research so that I could be a professional organizer.
In the beginning it was a two-pronged business, doing home organizing and home cleaning. About a year and a half ago I started focusing just on organizing.
What I like best about entrepreneurship is I get to set my own schedule and that is really awesome. You get to decide on the values of the company, the identity, the atmosphere and that type of thing. Those are my favorite things about entrepreneurship.
One of the other great things about what I would do is the impact on people—you can tell that they feel lighter. I don’t want to be dramatic, but they’re transformed. When you get rid of the clutter and have these spaces that are functioning, you can focus, you have peace, and actually feel lighter.
Visit the Fit For a Queen website for more information.