This week in our Summer Organizer Spotlight series we are back with Aby Garvey of Simplify 101. Aby has been a long time advertiser on this site and I’m so excited to have her participate in this latest series of mine so you can get to know her better. She offers amazing online workshops and other resources on her site to help people simplify and get organized. Let’s see what Aby has to say about organizing here today :)
Name: Aby Garvey
Business Name: simplify 101, inc.
Location: Edwardsville, Illinois (outside of St. Louis)
Blog: Simplify 101 Blog
Number of Years in Business: 8
While having a book published and being quoted in major magazines are certainly career highlights, what keeps me going are emails from clients and comments from students in my online forum thanking me and telling me how I have had a positive impact on their life. That’s the highlight for me. That’s why I do this.
In a few sentences, can you tell us what your approach is for taking clients from overwhelmed to organized?
My approach to working with clients often involves my online workshops http://www.simplify101.com/online-workshops.php, which offer a terrific way for someone to access the expertise of a professional organizer at a lower price point than one-on-one projects. The way we move from overwhelmed to organized is by bite-sizing the organizing process, and focusing on moving forward a little bit at a time—such as fifteen minutes a day. It is amazing what you can get done in just fifteen minutes and how that progress melts away overwhelm and makes you want to keep going!
What is your favorite space to organize? Why?
I love organizing kitchens because they really are the heart of the home. When the kitchen runs smoothly, so much of the our daily life is easier — getting out the door, getting dinner on the table, dealing with the mail and other paperwork, and so on. Plus, I love to cook. So organizing a kitchen is like being a kid in a candy store—it’s so much fun to see the kitchen goodies and find them happy homes.
What is one of your favorite organizing products? Why?
My favorite organizing product at the moment is the ITSO bin (from Target). When it comes time to select containers for an organizing project, I either like to reuse items my client already has on hand in new ways (such as using a collection of small bowls to corral office supplies) or I like to purchase versatile items that can be used in a variety of ways around the house. ITSO bins work great in so many spaces. They’re just as at home the pantry or refrigerator storing food as they are in the office storing greeting cards or 12 x 12 scrapbook paper. I like to know when my client invests in a container that they will be able to use it for years to come, even when their organizing needs change and evolve.
What do you find is the toughest part about being an organizer?
I think the toughest part is finishing. When you work closely with a client and then the project is done, saying goodbye is always bittersweet. I’m always super happy for my client and their success, but I miss my clients when the project is over.
Do you think you were born with the organizing gene or have you developed the skills over time?
Both! I definitely have an in-born interest in all things organizing, but I have also learned a ton throughout the years that has made me an even better organizer and deepened my interest in organizing, too.
What area of your own home do you find the most difficult to keep on top of?
Right now…it’s keeping track of my shoes. It’s not that I have a ton of shoes it’s that I wear my shoes into my home office, and then kick them off while I’m working. Then, I go upstairs (without my shoes) and put on a new pair of shoes to go outside and get the mail or let the dog out. And then I wear my shoes back down to my office…and the cycle repeats itself until I have about five or six pairs of shoes under my desk! Or as my son said the other day “Mom, did you know you have a shoe store under your desk?”
What do you have a collection of? How do you display/organize it?
I really don’t collect anything…except for maybe scrapbook supplies. Here are some photos that show how I organize some of my favorite scrapbooking things:
These decoupaged drawers hold letter stamps and chipboard letters.
Small, ceramic votive holders have been re-purposed to store scrapbook embellishments.
How would your mom describe your room as a kid (in terms of organization)?
My Mom would have to admit that my room was quite organized when I was a child. I used to love to rearrange my furniture and reorganize my bedroom. I guess some things never change. ;)
Do you have an organizing mantra for yourself and your clients?
I have many, but my two of my favorites are “Action creates change” and “Focus on progress instead of perfection.”
What is one thing you want others to know about working with a Professional Organizer?
One thing I always tell prospective clients the first time we talk is that everyone who calls a professional organizer is in some way unhappy with their home. What you’re feeling when you pick up that phone and make the call is perfectly normal, and the person on the other end is there to help you get where you want to be. The process is confidential and non-judgemental and a whole lot more fun than you might imagine!