January was National Get Organized Month, but for those who did not quite get their items or lives in order, there are professionals in Humboldt County who can help.
”Our culture is so centered around stuff,” said Laura Patterson, a professional organizer and life coach whose company is Someday Services. “Especially when there's a major life change, such as a birth, death or divorce, when people cope maybe they shop to fill a void or let their environment become disheveled.”
Patterson, one of the few professional organizers working in the county, said she thinks the area needs more people in her profession because there are a lot of local people who could benefit from the service.
Professional organizers may specialize in different areas, even data organization. Their relationships with clients have a lot to do with personalities, so the more professional organizers, the better the chances are for clients to find one with whom they click.
Barbara Browning, who has been a professional organizer for 10 years, is also the California Center for Rural Policy's chief operations officer at Humboldt State University. Browning said it's really important that professional organizers understand not everyone thinks alike.
”There's so much listening involved in professional organizing,” said Browning, owner of OrderWithin Training & Consulting. “It's important to understand sources of pain with client's chaos and disorder, though we aren't therapists.”
Claire Josefine, who was the first professional organizer in the county when she moved here in 1998, said though professional organizers are not therapists, they do practice confidentiality with their customers.
Professional organizers are also not housekeepers said Josefine, who worked in the industry for 16 years before she had to retire in 2013 due to fibromyalgia. Ideally, professional organizers create tailored systems of organization for each client, so they can use the method for the rest of their lives.
”Professional organizers can set up systems where clients say, 'Oh, I get it,' and run off and use them,” Josefine said. “We work with them to make their lives easier.”
Patterson said she thinks everyone has at least one room in their house they don't want other people to see, and it can be really challenging to tackle organizing alone.
”There are memories entwined with objects,” Patterson said, “and it can be hard to confront items that remind us of other times. Organizing is so much easier to do together, even if another person is just there for moral support.”
Browning said people tend to be ashamed of their chaos and disorder, and are often too embarrassed for other people to see it.
”We're professionals,” Browning said. “We don't judge. Everyone always thinks they're going to be the messiest and least organized client, but I've never seen anything nearly as bad as those hoarder shows.”
Josefine said professional organizers work differently here than other parts of the country.
”Some professional organizers have teams come in and do a clean sweep approach,” Josefine said. “Some come in high heels, makeup and business suits. We're much more down to earth and just ourselves here. I just approached my clients as Claire.”
Patterson said if a client really commits themselves, big shifts can happen after just one session.
”I can't even really describe how much of a difference it makes,” Patterson said. “Getting organized isn't just about items. It's spiritual and emotional. There are many facets to it. People are able to heal memories.
”We all have stuff,” she said. “Some of it is good stuff, but we don't necessarily need it all.”
To learn more about Laura Patterson's services, visit www.somedayservices.com/
To learn more about Barbara Browning's services, visit www.orderwithin.com/
To learn more about Claire Josefine, visit www.clairejosefine.com/
Jillian Singh is a reporter for the Times-Standard. She can be reached at 441-0509 or Jsingh@times-standard.com